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Why is it called Good Friday?



BY TARA-LEIGH COBBLE*

Friday has come, the day of Jesus’s arrest, trial, denial, torture and death. For all that, we incredibly declare that this day is good. It is so good in fact, that this is exactly what this fateful Friday will come to be known by: Good Friday.

 

But why? Those events seem like the exact opposite of ‘good’. In fact, they seem terrible. Let’s journey through this day along with Jesus, following in his steps as he endures event after terrible event, to see exactly how this pivotal day in history could ever be called good.

 

First, consider the arrest of Jesus and a betrayal by one of his closest friends, no less. “So, Judas came straight to Jesus. ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. “Jesus said, ‘My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.’ “Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him” (Matthew 26:49-50 NLT).

 

At this moment of crisis, all the other disciples deserted Jesus. Jesus would make his appearance before the religious court alone, a court convened to judge him as a heretic for claiming to be the Son of God.

 

“Then the high priest said to him, ‘I demand in the name of the living God – tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ “Jesus replied, ‘You have said it. And in the future, you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ “Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, ‘Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ ‘Guilty!’ they shouted. ‘He deserves to die!’” (Matthew 26:63-66 NLT).

 

“Still wondering how this day could ever be considered ‘good?’ Incredibly, worse is yet to come.”

This court was not looking for the truth. If they had been, they would have realised that Truth Himself stood before them as both Son and Saviour. Instead, they condemn the Son of God to death. To carry out their evil sentence, the Pharisees colluded with the Romans, pressuring Pilate to sentence him – the only truly innocent man in history – to a gruesome flogging followed by a tortuous journey to the cross. But before that physical pain was to be inflicted, another round of emotional pain was meted out by one of Jesus’s closest friends, Peter, who denied even knowing him.

 

“A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, ‘You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.’ “Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!’ And immediately the rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:73-74 NLT).

 

Imagine the pain of hearing this denial. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, Jesus was utterly alone on his journey to the cross.

 

Still wondering how this day could ever be considered ‘good?’ Incredibly, worse is yet to come.

 

“After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’s head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left” (Matthew 27:35-38).

 

Now we witness the great cost of Jesus giving himself up for us.

 

“At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matthew 27:45-46 NLT).

 

For the first time in all eternity, God the Father and God the Son were separated as Jesus “who knew no sin, became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In that moment, he is forsaken in our place. 

Then comes the cataclysmic event all history has been moving toward: the death of the Son of God.

 

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened ... The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, ‘This man truly was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:50-52, 54 NLT). 


And yet, we call this day good.

 

How can it be? How can any of this be good?

 

It is good because of the good Jesus accomplished.

 

“Through all the terrible awful events Jesus endured, the way was at long last opened for lost sinners to come into a relationship with God. No greater good could be accomplished on earth!”

Even before Jesus was raised from the dead Sunday morning (spoiler alert! but hopefully you saw that coming), his sacrifice was changing things here on earth. The separation between God and man was lifting – demonstrated by the rending of the Temple curtain that symbolically separated people from the presence of God. Through all the terrible awful events Jesus endured, the way was at long last opened for lost sinners to come into a relationship with God. No greater good could be accomplished on earth!

 

And still, Jesus himself is laid in a tomb. His followers are scared and grief-stricken. They do not yet know the good their friend has done. But Sunday is coming when all will be revealed!


Article courtesy of the Bible App – Walking with Jesus series by Tara-Leigh Cobble (speaker, author, teacher, podcaster from the US)

 

 

 

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