Today, I want to talk about a question that some of you might have: why do Christians call the day Jesus died Good Friday? What was good about it?
First of all, let me clarify that Good Friday is not a celebration of Jesus' death, but a commemoration of his sacrifice. Christians know that Jesus was the Son of God who came to earth as a human being, lived sinlessly, and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. By doing so, he opened the way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with God. The Bible says, "You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death. … But God raised him from the dead" (Acts 2:23-24).
So why is it called Good Friday? There are different opinions on the origin of the term, but one possible explanation is that it comes from the old meaning of "good" as "holy". In other words, Good Friday is a holy day because it is a day of religious observance. The Oxford English Dictionary states that "good" in this context refers to "a day or season observed as holy by the church". This is similar to how we use the word "good" in phrases like "good tidings" or "good will".
Another possible explanation is that it comes from the German word "Gute", which means "pious" or "godly". This would imply that Good Friday is a day that honors God and his plan of salvation. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that some sources see its origins in the term "God's Friday" or Gottes Freitag.
Whatever the origin of the term, Christians call it Good Friday because they believe that Jesus' death was not a tragedy but a triumph. It was the day that he fulfilled his mission and showed his love for us. It was the day that he defeated sin and death and made possible our eternal life. The Bible says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Today I would like to encourage you to take some time to stop and listen to the week we call Holy Week, with a beautiful album called "A Violent Grace" by Michael Card.
The songs of this collection have shaped my reflection on this day for many years, and I pray that they would also be a blessing to you.
More ways to make Good Friday more meaningful for you and your family...
- Visit your local church. Many churches have special services on Good Friday, where you can join other believers in prayer, worship, and reflection. Some churches also have Passion Plays, which are dramatic re-enactments of the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. You can also attend a Stations of the Cross service, where you can follow the steps of Jesus from his trial to his burial.
- Fast and abstain from meat. Fasting expresses our sorrow for our sins and our solidarity with Jesus in his suffering. Abstaining from meat is a way of honoring his sacrifice and remembering his flesh that was torn for us. You can fast and abstain from meat on Good Friday or throughout Holy Week to prepare your heart for Easter.
- Pray at 3:00 PM. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus died at the ninth hour, which is 3:00 PM in our time. You can pause whatever you are doing at that time and pray, either by yourself or with others. You can thank Jesus for his love, ask for his forgiveness, and offer him your life. You can also pray for the needs of the world, especially those who are suffering or persecuted.
- PONDER the death of Jesus. Good Friday is a good time to meditate on the meaning of Jesus' death and what it means for you personally. You can read the accounts of his passion in the Gospels (Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 18-19) or other passages that talk about his death (such as Isaiah 53, Romans 5:6-11, 1 Peter 2:21-25).
- Do a craft or activity with your kids. If you have children, you can help them understand Good Friday better by doing a craft or activity with them. For example, you can make Good Friday crosses out of popsicle sticks or paper and decorate them with symbols or words that remind you of Jesus' love. You can also do a Good Friday scavenger hunt, where you look for things related to Jesus' death and resurrection, such as nails, thorns, bread, wine, etc.
- Write a thank-you note to Jesus. One way to express your gratitude to Jesus for dying for you is to write him a thank-you note. You can write it on a piece of paper or in your journal, and tell him how much you love him and appreciate what he did for you. You can also write about how his death has changed your life and what you want to do for him in return.
I hope they inspire you to celebrate this day with reverence and joy. Remember that Good Friday is not the end of the story; it is the beginning of a new life in Christ!
<>< Pastor Craig