Why Is It Called Good Friday?

Updated: Jun 14

This treasured holiday dedicated to the eternal triumph of the cross will be bunkered by many in fear and isolation, protected from potential contamination from loving family and friends. But an ancient virus, infinitely more dangerous than anything Covid can conjure, has already infected the entire human race. Whether a family is at a gathering of a hundred or huddled home, sin poisons every pleasure and enslaves every soul.


Though our situation is perilous, hope is not lost; the punishment for our sin was paid on an accursed hill outside Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. The dust of the Earth was stained crimson as it testified to the completion of our salvation with the Saviour’s blood while a living way was opened for us by his broken body (Hebrews 10:19-25), but this story doesn’t end with death.


Creation

The heavens and constellations watched and waited with anticipation as God composed the jewel of His creation and fashioned man in His image (Genesis 1:27). As a privileged consequence, we can know the Trinity with an intimacy that nothing else has (Job 32:8). Our eternal purpose, declared by the Sovereign Supreme, is to serve and love Him as cherished family of the Divine (Deuteronomy 11:13). The scourge of depression and the admission of vanity that torments all who seek fulfillment in riches, wisdom, and intellect proves the emptiness of all things without God (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Only the person of Jesus Christ and everlasting life dependent on Him will satisfy our souls (John 14:4)


Sin

The hydra of sin that now defiles all of us with evil was a foreign and unknown terror during our life of tranquility in the Earth’s capital of Eden. Our perfection was the beam of creation as we interacted with our Heavenly Father and friend (Genesis 3:8).


The Almighty God determined that a creature coerced to love is not a creature made in His image (Genesis 1:16). Thus Adam, acting as a proxy for all subsequent generations of mankind, wielded freedom (as did with Eve) to love God or reject Him. Their decision revealed the content of their spirit and the righteousness of their soul (Genesis 3:3).


But being tempted by a disgraced and diabolical being, captivated by exaggerations of riches that lie beyond the gates of the garden, their hearts swelling with pride, Adam and Eve disobeyed God; they sinned (Genesis 3:6-11)! Because death comes through a man (1 Corinthians 15:21, Romans 5:17), in an instant we were destined to die (Genesis 2:17). Our spiritual jugular’s been severed, we’re slaves to sin, and everlasting death is our just punishment (Luke 13:28).


Atonement

Surely, the wrath of God was justified to administer righteous retribution immediately (Nahum 1:2-6). The whole enterprise of creation depended on God’s response. The wage of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and it must be paid.


But while our bodies became corrupted by wickedness and subject to a fast decay, this merciful and loving God looked on us with pity, ensured the continuation of our species, and promised a redeemer that would restore the perfection of man (Genesis 3:15, Ephesians 2:1-6).


However, this abounding mercy does not permit sin to go unpunished (Revelation 20:12). If the consequences of transgressing the Law are never enforced, it’s no law at all, and God’s holiness is violated. There would come a day when God’s prophesied gospel (Genesis 3:15)—a perfect, sinless man—would atlas the sins of the world, miraculously transfer every transgression of all who have ever lived onto Himself, and pay the price for our iniquity thus satisfying divine justice and reconciling us to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). But until that Son of Man became incarnate, a shadow of condemnation covered the ruin of Eden (2 Corinthians 3:6).


As the nations and everyone living in them fell further into the abyss of evil, God’s patience endured, and He implemented the institution of atonement with His beloved Israel. The High Priest would present an animal without defect or imperfection and put it to death instead of the sinner (Leviticus 16:15). Though the convicted deserved to be on the alter, the animal acted as a substitute, died in the sinner’s place, and was a picture of the salvation that was coming (Hebrews 9:13). For a little while, the faithful were shielded from the consuming fire of God (Hebrews 12:29).


Christ

After generations longing for the fulfillment of the covenant first promised to Eve (Genesis 3:15), then to the prophets of antiquity, the Saviour arrived. In the maternity ward of a manger fit for a slave, not a king, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of a virgin and revealed from Heaven (Luke 2:11). He grew up in silence and obscurity until, at age 30, He began His ministry (Luke 3:23). The magnanimity of his life and the message that he taught revealed His eternal kingdom was not one of Roman subjugation or Babylonian brutality, but of righteousness, joy, and peace (Romans 14:17).


Yet the sinless life Jesus lived and the miracles and teaching He performed offended and angered us who are conceded in darkness. His insistence that we’re sinners in need of a saviour was too outrageous for our arrogance to accept, so we sentenced Him to die (Matthew 27:22-23). Everlasting in His submission to the will of His Father in Heaven (Philippians 2:8), the innocent Christ faced the terror of the cross to atone for the sins of the world, alone (1 John 2:1-2).


On Golgotha, the sins of everyone of every age were transferred on to the beaten body of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:25). Once the Son’s dreaded transformation into sin was complete (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Father unleashed the full measure of His wrath reserved for us as sinners onto Christ (Matthew 27:46). The sky of the Earth mounted in darkness as Christ endured the condemnation of sin, released His spirit, died, and paid the punishment for our iniquity once for all time (Romans 5:8-9). The substitution is perfect, our debt is cleared, and the eternal sacrifice is complete (Hebrews 10:14)


But we who are dead in sin are still and forever dead if death conquered life. If Jesus is incarcerated in the grave, if his body is still buried under the thousands of years of erosion, then Good Friday and Easter Sunday are foolish holidays.


But in fact, fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture, Christ was raised in splendor and power from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4); it’s why we celebrate Easter. The Father vindicated Christ and validated all of His claims by raising Him to life (Romans 6:9-10), but it’s not as though this radical claim of resurrection is without proof:

  1. Despite intimidating and vigilant Roman guard, the grave was empty (John 20:1-18).

  2. Christ was seen by Peter, the disciples, James, the apostles, and more than 500 other witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

  3. Christ physically interacted with those witnesses (John 21:12).

  4. The Christian faith exponentially grew (Acts 4:4), and it persevered and outlasted the empire that persecuted them so severely.

  5. The compatibility and corroboration of every gospel despite each author’s separation.

  6. The present testimony of countless others.

  7. The fulfillment of Scripture in Christ (Hebrews 10:7).

Thus, enveloped in glory, after being buried for three days, the Son was finally resurrected, and Babylon’s doom was sealed (1 Corinthians 15:4, Revelation 1:18, 5:5).


Salvation

The salvation of man, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the dead, and the prize of eternal life in perfection with Jesus is by the grace of God through faith alone (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 1:16-17, Habakuk 2:4). You are saved when you commit your entire hope and trust in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, to reconcile you to God by His perfect atoning sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). The confession with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) communicates the truth that a new and living Spirit cleanses our souls from sin (Isaiah 1:18), changes our lives, and measures us righteous on the cosmic balance of God (Romans 8:1-4). The Christian becomes the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27) and is restored to a status of sonship in the Heavenly courts of the Triune God forever (Ephesians 2:6-7).


But this beautiful truth is escorted with a solemn warning for those who reject it. There’s a place reserved for Satan and his angels that’s increased its capacity to accommodate unrepentant sinners (Matthew 25:41). It’s appointed for every person once to die, and then the judgement (Hebrews 9:27). Those who stand before the throne without Christ are sentenced to an eternity where their immortal and indomitable hate consumes them forever. A horrible destiny of lonely destruction, yet never annihilation, is the unbeliever’s fate as the doors of Hell are permanently shut with the adamantine locks of the sinner’s irreconcilable pride (2 Thessalonians 1:9).


That’s the message of Good Friday and Easter. A disease far deadlier than Covid was cured at the cross and is presented to us as the only antidote for sin. If the Mighty Physician administers the serum, life will quickly follow. But deny the sinner this medicine, and death will forever swallow.




To read the full story of Easter, see Matthew 26:57-28:10


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