Why Good Friday is indeed a good Friday

Good Friday is definitely not a bad day. Actually, only hopeful Christians can understand this turn of phrase. For Good Friday, after all, is the day of the Lord’s death, but with His death Christ also made new life possible. Perspectives of a special kind.

Being nailed to a cross is a terrible ordeal and one of the most severe forms of torture. Not only does the process of dying take several hours and gradually affects one inner organ after the other, but it is also the humiliation, the mockery, and the public display that make this form of punishment even more sinister. True, everyone has to die sometime—but does it have to be this way?

“Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away. And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the centre.”

Why did it have to come to this? And what does this have to do with Christians today?

The question of who is to blame

There are several motives for Jesus’ death, and many who were responsible for it. If a modern detective were to investigate the case further, he would quickly find the guilty party. The situation at the time was tense: no one trusted anyone else. There were a lot of orthodox Jews at the time, people with influence and following a zero tolerance policy. For them this Jesus was nothing but a blasphemer. Had He not loudly proclaimed that He was the Son of God! How could He dare call Himself the Son of the almighty God? This was punishable by death.

“Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.”

The occupying power played its part too, as always when people are to be oppressed. Jerusalem and Galilee was a boiling cauldron of unresolved conflicts: fundamentally different nations, foreign cultures, totally different customs and laws, xenophobia, and delusions of grandeur—all spread over just a few square kilometres. The mixture spelled disaster. And when two quarrel, a third has to pay the consequences.

“Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews, but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’”

A done deal

Ultimately, the Scriptures had to be fulfilled, the old predictions that prophesied that this man who was being crucified, was the Messiah. Jesus’ death was a done deal. Already the venerated prophets had referred to Him and His ignominious end. The servants in the synagogue loved to read these passages, and now they were being fulfilled before their very eyes. Only they did not see it.

“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.’ Therefore the soldiers did these things.”

All’s well that ends well

And what does all of this have to do with the people of today? Are they guilty too? Maybe, because it is a fact that we human beings are sinners, imperfect, and dependent on grace. Jesus Christ, the Son of God helps us out of this mess. He is our advocate before God, who defends us. He laid down His life for His sheep. He died so that we may live.

“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

From the tomb to heaven

And that is why Good Friday is such a good Friday. According to Christian belief it is certainly the day on which Christ was killed and died, but it is also the day before the morning of the resurrection. No resurrection without the cross; no life without death; no freedom without the tomb.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.”

This is the mission that Christians have today: go and proclaim the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the whole world!

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

(All biblical passage are taken from John 19 and 20)

Photo: Tomasz Zajda - stock.adobe.com

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Peter Johanning
Good Friday, Easter