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Why is it called Good Friday?

Recently someone asked, “Why is it called Good Friday?”

As we talk about this question, my desire isn’t to provide historical framework as to how the name Good Friday actually came about, but instead to explain what makes the day Jesus died a good day. The question is actually quite profound! With every other religious system in the world, the death of the leader would be considered a horrible tragedy. What makes Jesus different from other religious throughout history? How is his death good?

If you ask any person on the street to describe to you the perfect world, the vast majority will come to the same conclusion - a world without pain, sickness, and death; a world where everyone lives in perfect unity; a world where there is no need for fear or tears at all. This is the world we all want, but did you know that this is the way the world once was (and will be again)?

The beginning of the Bible describes a perfect world - a veritable utopia. Mankind lived in perfect harmony with one another, with the rest of creation, and most importantly with their Creator. There was a time when humanity walked with the Creator God.

This relationship, however, was severed because of rebellion. Rather than being content to enjoy God and trust in his goodness, doubt crept into the hearts of mankind. The first people chose insurrection and rebellion against their Creator rather than trust and love. The aftermath of this act has left the entire world cursed ever since. This solitary choice to rebel snowballed into a world littered with evil, deceit, sickness, pain, and death. The greatest loss, however, was not health, but communion with our Creator.

Since this day, mankind has never been able to walk freely with the one who made them. But on that day, although he was the one who was wounded, God made a promise to do everything in his power to restore his creation to the way that it once was even though it would cost an insurmountable price.

Throughout the scriptures, the cost of this separation is the price tag of blood. If people want to have access to God, they need to make sacrifices, killing perfectly innocent animals as a temporary peace treaty with the Creator. These sacrifices, however, are never permanent. How could they be? The blood of a bull could never undo the greatest act of rebellion the world has ever known! Someone needs to be punished for justice to reign.

Some 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus walked the earth. He lived an innocent life because he was not like other men. He was, as he claimed, God clothed in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was God and Man. As such, he was without sin. Although he was innocent before God and man, he was condemned as a criminal and executed for crimes he didn’t commit on the day we now refer to as Good Friday.

What made it a good day is that it was exactly what God had promised way back when mankind rebelled against him in the first place. God determined to undo OUR rebellion at HIS expense. He knew that someone had to be punished for the rebellion, but rather than punish us, he punished his own Son. It was the greatest crime that the world had ever experienced - to execute Jesus - but it produced our greatest good. God’s riches at Christ’s expense - the ultimate act of grace.

Of course, Good Friday is only good if you trust in its reality. If you hear the news of Jesus Christ and do not trust in it, do not submit to its claims, then it isn’t good news at all. In fact, there is no good news if Good Friday never happened because then we are still under rebellion against God, still required to pay the price for our own personal rebellion, and still under condemnation from our Creator. That isn’t good news at all. That’s bad news.

But Jesus has come, Jesus has died, and Jesus has been resurrected. Now, we share the good news about what happened on Good Friday so that all people can experience the riches of God - forgiveness, grace, a future hope. By trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross to satisfy in full the cost of our rebellion, we can partake in a relationship with God once again. We can enjoy him now and look forward to walking with him like the first men did in the beginning.

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who trusts in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be rescued through him. The one who trusts in him is not condemned. The one who does not trust has been condemned already, because he has not trusted in the name of the one and only Son of God - Jesus (John 3:16-18).