Tomorrow is Good Friday. But why should such a day be called “good?” Maybe we need to ask about what happened on Good Friday many years ago. According to the gospel of Mark in the 15th chapter beginning with verse 21, we read
21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus’ cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place). 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it. 24 Then they crucified Him and divided His clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get. 25 Now it was nine in the morning when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge written against Him was: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 They crucified two criminals with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 [So the Scripture was fulfilled that says: And He was counted among outlaws.] 29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking Him to one another and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him were taunting Him.
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah!” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down!”
37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last.
Does this sound like a “Good Friday” to you? Admittedly, the gospel writers spare their contemporary readers the details of the crucifixion, but our modern minds tend to be somewhat detached for the physical horrors that Jesus endured. According to John Stott,
The prisoner would first be publicly humiliated by being stripped naked. Then he was laid on his back on the ground while his hands were either nailed or tied to a horizontal wooden beam and his feet to the vertical pole. The cross was then hoisted to an upright position and dropped into a hole in the ground. Usually a rudimentary seat was provided to take some of the weight of the victim’s body and prevent it from being torn loose. But there he would hang: daytime heat and nighttime cold. The torture would usually last several days.
And this was just the physical suffering! What we cannot even begin to imagine is the suffering that He endured as the wrath-bearing sacrifice of His Father! As Jesus would say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” The reformation theologian, Martin Luther, spoke of Jesus’ statement, saying, “Gott von Gott verlassen — die sie verstehen können,” which translated means, “God forsaken by God – who can understand it!” If the physical suffering is almost too great to imagine, the suffering of God’s wrath for sin is incomprehensibly great!
Why then do we call such a day “Good Friday?” We call it “Good Friday” because nearly 2000 years ago a very good man, in fact, the best man that ever lived – the very Son of God, died in the place of very bad people! For people that hated Him! For people who were His enemies! For people like you and people like me!
And here’s the reality: Good Friday any different from any other day in history until you understand the part you played in it. As John Stott writes, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance) Indeed, ‘Only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross, may claim his share in its grace.”
Through His death, Jesus has provide the way for your sins to be covered and your guilt removed. He beckons you to acknowledge your guilt, your need, and find forgiveness and freedom in Him!
I invited you to meditate on your role in the death of the Christ so that you might see the love of your Father and know the grace of your Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit!