The positive spin on the worst day EVER
On Good Friday, Christians remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? In Germany, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.”
Regardless of its origin, the name Good Friday is appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the culmination of God’s plan to save His people from their sins.
The name “Good Friday” does perplex me at times. (My German last name, Hagenbuch, might have something to do with this.) Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday,” makes more sense. “God’s Friday” is an option, too.
Then again, neither name completely works. Oh, yes, it is a sorrowful Friday, a day to think of God and what He did for us through His Son. Yet, in the end, after darkness passes over our lives just as it passed over Jesus’ cross from 12 to 3 PM (Matthew 27:45), it IS a GOOD Friday.
Here’s why. Christians are innately hopeful, not maudlin. Oh, we cry. Oh, we hurt. Oh, the pangs of pain reach us too, but we don’t stay there. We can’t. This life and its tragedies are not ours; we belong to the world beyond this one. Claimed by Christ since we claimed Christ, heaven is our home.
Bad or sad news does not stay with is, or, more specifically, bad or sad news does not stay on us. Here’s an example. Recently, a young Christian couple lost to death their five-month old baby while the tiny one was in the womb.
One of the baby’s great grandmothers, who had already started to buy her soon-to-be great granddaughter gifts, shared this story the other day as she asked for prayers for the baby’s parents. From nowhere, a single tear dropped to this faithful woman’s chest. Pain? Oh, you bet! Grief? Oh, like we don’t want to imagine.
But that’s not the last chapter in this little one’s life; it’s only a chapter. This baby’s parents know exactly where their daughter is. Why? Because they know what Christ did on that cross on that first Good Friday. His death took our eternal death away from us.
In order to grasp the good news of the gospel, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. Here’s another way of saying this: it is important to understand and distinguish between law and gospel in Scripture. We need the law first to show us how hopeless our condition is; then the gospel of Jesus’ grace comes and brings us relief and salvation.
This is what makes Good Friday a good Friday. Then again, when I pray for this young couple (and I now ask praying people reading this to do the same), I waffle again over the name “Good Friday.”
Knowing what Jesus did for those who seek Him, and in knowing this beautiful little baby is now home, maybe Good Friday should be called THE GREATEST FRIDAY IN THE WORLD EVER — AS IN TOTALLY, COMPLETELY THE BEST DAY E-V-E-R EVER.