Every year, millions of people around the world go to church in observance of Good Friday. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the true meaning of Good Friday. They don’t understand what makes Good Friday truly good. In this post, we’re going to dive deep into Good Friday.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Good Friday is part of Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Easter. It falls on the Friday prior to Easter Sunday. Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday as a way of remembering the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We also call to mind the events that led up to Jesus’ death.
The four gospels provide us with a first-hand account of what happened prior to, during, and after Jesus’ crucifixion.
On the night before Good Friday, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He led an armed crowd to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was praying. When Judas saw Jesus, he kissed Him, which helped the crowd identify Jesus.
After being arrested, Jesus was taken to the house of Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. Annas interrogated Jesus but got nowhere, so he sent Jesus to stand trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. While on trial, witnesses were brought against Jesus, but their testimony often conflicted. Finally, Caiaphas demanded that Jesus tell him whether He was the Son of God. Jesus affirmed that He was, and Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin condemned Him to death for blasphemy.
Later that morning, Jesus was brought before the Roman governor Pilate. He was charged with claiming that He was a king, opposing taxes, and being an enemy of Rome. Pilate interrogated Jesus but couldn’t find any basis for the claims of the Jewish leaders.
Pilate sent Jesus to King Herod in hopes that Herod would have more success. But after questioning Jesus, Herod came to the same conclusion as Pilate and sent Jesus back.
Pilate told the Jewish leaders that neither he nor Herod found Jesus guilty. He decided to have Jesus whipped and then release Him. The chief priests convinced the assembled crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas was imprisoned for murder. When Pilate asked what he should do with Jesus, the crowd demanded that He be crucified.
Pilate had Jesus beaten and flogged and then brought Him out before the crowd, intending to release Him. It was then that the chief priests also charged that Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God. This put fear into Pilate and he brought Jesus back inside for further questioning. Further convinced of Jesus’ innocence, Pilate brought Jesus out again. He washed his hands in water, showing the chief priests and the crowd that he wanted nothing to do with the execution of Jesus. Nevertheless, he handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Jesus was forced to carry His cross to Golgotha, where He would be crucified. Because He had beaten so badly, He was unable to carry it the entire way and a man named Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross. When they finally reached Golgotha, Jesus was nailed to the cross and placed between two thieves who were also crucified.
For six hours, Jesus hung upon the cross. During this time, Jesus was mocked by the chief priests, the crowd, and even the two thieves. One of the thieves, however, realized that Jesus was indeed who He said He was. The thief asked Jesus to remember him, and Jesus promised the thief that he would be with Jesus in paradise that very day.
During the final three hours, deep darkness fell on the land. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” Just before dying, He said, “It is finished.” When He died, there was an earthquake, the curtain of the Temple was torn from top to bottom, and many saints of old emerged from their graves and appeared to people around Jerusalem. A Roman centurion who witnessed the crucifixion declared that Jesus was the Son of God.
A man named Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate granted the request, and Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in clean linen and placed it in a tomb. Another man named Nicodemus placed approximately 75 pounds of spices on the body. A stone was rolled across the entrance of the tomb and sealed in place. Guards were placed around the tomb to ensure no one stole Jesus’ body.
The death and resurrection of Jesus are central to Christianity. If we want to love God deeply, we must thoroughly understand the profound meaning of Easter, Good Friday, and Palm Sunday.
So why exactly is it called “Good Friday”? After all, the things that happened to Jesus weren’t good at all. They were absolutely terrible.
Good Friday is only good if you understand the bad news first.
The Bible declares that every person is sinful, both by nature and choice. Our sin is against God and separates us from God. Because God is holy and just, He must punish sin. The punishment for sin is the wrath of God in hell.
Romans 3:22-23 says,
“...for there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We all stand guilty before God and separated from Him. Our good deeds can’t get us to God. Our personal moral code can’t pay the penalty for our sins.
Pastor Adrian Rogers said:
"Sin is a moral affront against God; therefore, God is the one who must forgive sin. David said, “Against Thee, and Thee only, have I sinned.” We have a lot of psychological and theological garbage going around today where people say everyone is supposed to be affirmed: “I affirm you. You’re okay—I’m okay.”...We are sinners—by birth, by nature, by choice, by practice. We have morally struck and offended an infinitely holy God. He must punish sin, and we deserve punishment."
Apart from God’s intervention, there is no hope for us.
Thankfully, God did intervene.
The good news is that Jesus died on the cross in our place. He took our sins upon Himself and absorbed the wrath of God for those sins. As He hung on the cross, the punishment that we deserved was poured out on Jesus.
Pastor Adrian Rogers put it this way:
"How can He love and forgive the sinner and at the same time punish sin? The answer is: with a substitutionary sacrifice. Someone who takes that punishment on our behalf. A person who has known no sin Himself, righteous enough, holy enough, good enough, to become our substitute. Someone who can suffer in our stead. The only one who could do that was the Son of God. He is God’s substitutionary sacrifice—and our Savior."
Second Corinthians 5:21 says,
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus, the sinless One, took all of our sins upon Himself. God looked upon Jesus as if He had committed all of our sins. As if He had lied, stolen, cheated, and hated. The darkness that fell at Calvary was a visible symbol of the wrath of God that fell upon Jesus.
We get the perfect righteousness of Jesus. God treats us as if we had always perfectly obeyed Him. We are welcomed into His presence and treated as His children.
Do you see now why Good Friday is so good? What was bad for Jesus was absolutely wonderful for us. This is why the gospel is good news!
In light of all that happened, Good Friday should be both a somber and celebratory day for us. It is a keen reminder of our sinfulness and need for a savior. It shows the seriousness of our sin and highlights the holiness of God. These truths should humble us before God.
These truths should also cause us to rejoice! All of our sins have been paid for. We are no longer under God’s wrath and we have been clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. We don’t have to earn our way to God or worry that we’re not good enough to be in God’s presence. On our own, we aren’t good enough, but Jesus was more than good enough in our place!
All of our hope is in Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf. As the classic hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less ” says:
"My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name"
Trust in Jesus’ blood and righteousness. They are more than enough.