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What Makes Good Friday Good?


Good Friday sounds so far from good. A man in his early thirties was brutally murdered. Hung on a cross. This followed weeks of torture—he was under legal trial, mocked, aggressively beaten, spit on… forced to carry the cross he’d later die on. His closest friends denied their friendship with him. Only his mother and a few women stood nearby during his dying breaths. 

Even Jesus felt the badness of the day. He cried to God, saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If you’ve read the Gospels or seen The Passion of the Christ, you know the heaviness and torture Jesus went through.

So, what makes Good Friday good?

To see the goodness of Good Friday, we have to look past the day, or even the week, and consider the rest of history.

The Broader Story

For centuries, humans have been waiting for an answer to the problem of sin. In Genesis, Adam and Eve were tempted to disobey God, and God’s perfect creation turned sinful. This sin spread quickly—selfishness, pride, and shame bred more selfishness, pride, and shame. 

However, God remained committed to Adam and Eve and his creation even after they disobeyed. He made a commitment to “reverse the curse” of sin, to “crush the head of the serpent,” the devil. Yes, sin would continue to impact them and the world around them. But Adam and Eve were to wait for the crusher of the serpent. And they knew God. He had been faithful to them, to his word, and to his creation, so they lived in hope that eventually God would act against sin.

For thousands of years, it seemed that sin was winning. Throughout the Old Testament, we see sin running rampant, in people groups, in their leaders, and inside everyone’s own hearts. All the while, God remained committed to restoring humanity, to reversing the curse of sin. 

Enter Jesus

We read about Jesus knowing that he’s the answer to the problem of sin. He enters the world to crush the head of the serpent. To bring about the beginnings of restoration. To bring flourishing.

Just as promised, he’s born to a virgin, Mary. He lives a sinless life. He heals and restores people. He feeds people. He confronts false beliefs. He teaches. He loves people deeply, serving and dining with the broadest company. 

To fulfill what God has promised, Jesus also has to take on the penalty of sin—painfully—to reverse the curse of the serpent.

Isaiah 53:3-6 describes the pain required of the person who will reverse the curse of sin. Notice all the words emphasizing how badly he will be treated for the good and rescue of creation.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Good Friday is good because Jesus takes on the punishment that sin deserves. And that is personal. That’s the punishment we deserve.

Because we live with sin in our hearts, sin impacts our decisions. It impacts our motivations. And we constantly see signs of sin around us. 

But Isaiah repeats the concept that “by his wounds we are healed.” Our transgressions, our sins, were settled by Jesus going to the cross. He took on the judgment that we deserve, dying in our place. 

Good Friday, although horrific, is the only thing that can bring us peace. 

We get to live in the good news of Good Friday, that we’ve been given grace. A gift. Forgiveness. Rightness with God. And, out of that grace, we live in obedient response to Jesus’s direction for our lives.

Read about how Easter brings hope and new life to us because of Jesus's death on Good Friday.