Why this Friday is Good

I am not sad on Good Friday. I don’t experience morose feelings or morbid thoughts or find myself in a miserable mood. I can’t even work these things up. Maybe it is because I have been conditioned by the English language. After all, it is Good Friday – not Bad Friday. Maybe, if for the seven-plus decades of my life, this day was called Bad Friday, my thoughts, feelings, and mood would have had ample time to absorb that message and appropriately respond. But it is Good Friday, not Bad Friday. I feel pretty good about Good Friday.

The phrase ‘Good Friday’ first appeared in 1290 AD in a Christian book in Southern England. The original is ‘goude friday.’ Some say it is called ‘good’ because back then ‘good’ meant ‘holy.’ Some say it is derived from German and means ‘God’s Friday.’ The Baltimore Catholic Catechism says that it is called Good Friday because on the cross God showed His great love for mankind. Whatever its history, all these meanings point to something Good, not something Bad.

Don’t get me wrong. I was moved to tears as I watched the brutal treatment of our Lord in the movie The Passion of the Christ. The word ‘passion’ means ‘suffering.’ Yet even those were tears of shock and sympathy, not of despair and hopelessness. No matter how far I drill down into the sufferings of Christ, I cannot bracket out the resurrection. Neither could Jesus. Hebrews tells us that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame. There is this huge deposit of joy at God’s ultimate victory sewn into the fabric of my soul and diffused as light throughout my whole being. Try as I might, I do not become sad on Good Friday.

It’s Good Friday because on the cross He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. That’s good!

On the cross, He redeemed us – He paid the price for our salvation. That’s good!

On the cross, He was pierced for our transgression and crushed for our iniquity. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him and by His scourgings we are healed. That’s good!

On the cross, He rendered Himself as a guilt offering and poured Himself out to death. That’s good!

On the cross, He cried out, “It is finished.” That’s good!

As a result of the anguish of His soul, God will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, God’s Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. That’s good!

There was nothing redemptive in His ill-treatment and torture and brutal suffering. Had they torn out His beard, and laid bare His back, and crowned Him with those cruel thorns, and forced Him to carry the cross – and then notice came that He was pardoned and was now a free man – we would still be in our sins in that redemption had not been accomplished because Christ had not died for us, in our place. That would make it Bad Friday.

The Goodness of Friday is in His death, not in His suffering. His unjust trial was not Good. His beating and torture were not Good. His hard journey to Golgotha was not Good. The nails and the pain of the cross were not Good. His death on the cross was Good.

Today is Good Friday. But it gets even gooder – Sunday’s coming!

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