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Why is Good Friday Good?

This week, many churches will commemorate the death of Jesus with special services on Good Friday. Most pastors will remind their congregations of the suffering that Jesus endured for us as detailed in Matthew 27 and Luke 23. Some churches conclude their Tenebrae celebrations by serving the Lord’s Supper and leaving the service silently, in near darkness.

One question that is often asked is, “Why do we call it Good Friday knowing that Jesus suffered such a horrible death?” It does seem contradictory to use the word “good” when there was so much sorrow on that Crucifixion day.

The late evangelist Billy Graham gave an excellent response to that question by saying, “Why is it called ‘Good Friday’? Because by His death, Jesus became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. We cannot erase our guilt, nor can we overcome our sins by our good deeds. But Christ did what we could never do for ourselves, by dying for us on that first Good Friday. May this day truly become “Good Friday” for you, as you confess your sins and put your faith and trust in Christ.”

The etymology of the term “Good Friday” is uncertain. In most languages of the world, the Friday before Easter is called “Holy Friday.” But those who spoke German used the word “Goddes” which means either “God’s” or “Holy.” It’s possible that the English language altered this word “Goddes” into “Good.”

Looking back to the day of Christ’s Crucifixion, few things happened that could be considered “good.” On that day, the hatred and hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders was exposed for all to see (Matthew 27:25). It was not a good day for them.

For Judas, his dreams for fame and fortune dissolved in a moment (Matthew 27:5). No, the Friday before Easter was not a good day for Judas.

And poor Peter. He had made such bold statements of commitment to Christ, until confronted by a young maid. In his fear and confusion, Peter failed Jesus and himself (Luke 22:60). Friday was not a good day for Peter.

And then there were the Disciples. After all the miracles, signs, and wonders that Jesus had worked, they ran and hid in fear (Mark 49:50). It was a very bad day for them.

And for the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, the innocent blood on his hands would impeach him to the core (Matthew 27:24). No, it was not a good Friday for Pilate.

But one man, even in his excruciating pain, accepted Christ and cried, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” (Luke 23:43). Indeed, it was a Good Friday for the thief who found Jesus.

And you can make Good Friday good for you, if you will invite Christ into your heart as Savior and Lord.


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