On a Thursday evening about 2,000 years ago, Jesus reclined with his closest friends and celebrated his last Passover meal. Their meal was different this time, though. As Jesus explained that the bread and wine represented his own body and blood, his disciples had no idea what would happen the next day - but Jesus did. He knew exactly what was coming: the pain, the loneliness, the mockery, the hate, and ultimately, separation from his own Father.
As they moved into the garden, Jesus prayed more earnestly than anyone has ever prayed. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26.39) What was the cup? It was the reason that Jesus came. It was his destiny. And as it approached, the agony and stress caused hematidrosis, a rare mixing of sweat and blood. As his accuser finally came near and Jesus was arrested, it set in motion a chain of events that became (although it had always been) the most pivotal event in all eternity.
On Friday, the day before the Sabbath, the second person of the triune God - the Son - was beaten, mocked, and killed in the most excruciating and humiliating way. Crucifixion. And this is what we remember on Good Friday. The death of the Son of God.
So why call it “good"? Consider a few reasons. In the death of Christ:
- We see God’s love for us (Eph. 5.2)
- We have forgiveness for our sins (Matt. 26.28)
- He took the wrath we deserved (Gal. 3.13)
- He makes us holy and blameless before God (Heb. 10.14)
- He liberates us from sin and the fear of death (Heb. 2.14-15)
- We can be passionate about good works (Titus 2.14)
But all these are empty if he was not resurrected on the first day of the week. And that may be the best reason to call this Friday good - because it means Sunday is right around the corner. The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive! He certainly died on that Friday, but he is alive today. Death was not the end. It was a beginning, of sorts. And let’s pray that there is life and a new beginning this weekend for all who encounter the cross of Jesus.