Part of the wonderful story of Easter is Good Friday—and I wonder if you’ve ever asked yourself, Why is it called Good Friday? Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion clearly showed the terrible suffering and agony Jesus endured on a wooden cross at a place called ‘The Skull’. It is the darkest day in all of history. The brutality of the crucifixion is horrific. How could such torture be done to anyone, yet alone Jesus, the Son of God.
I was interested in reading a comment from famous singer/songwriter Billy Joel. On November 16, 2010, in a television interview, Billy Joel said that he does not believe in a god, and that he is an atheist:
I wasn’t raised a Catholic, but I used to go to Mass with my friends, and I viewed the whole business as a lot of very enthralling hocus-pocus. There’s a guy … nailed to a cross and dripping blood, and everybody’s blaming themselves for that man’s torment, but I said to myself, “Forget it. I had no hand in that evil. I have no original sin. There’s no blood of any sacred martyr on my hands. I pass on all of this.”
What an intriguing statement—he cannot handle the idea of Jesus’ death, and how that has any connection to him. I wonder how many other people think like this.
But the Bible tells me of God’s great act of sacrificial love—he allowed Jesus, his Son, to be a sacrifice for you and me; to take our sins on the cross. We cannot ignore what happened on that Good Friday—it has a direct connection with me and you. An act of intense cruelty equals the ultimate in love.
Another popular singer, Bono, was quoted as saying: “I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb, I love the idea that God says: ’Let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions’’. That is why Christians call the day we commemorate Jesus’ death as Good Friday.
The Lost Sailboat
A father and son worked for months to build a toy sailboat. Every night when the man came home from work, he and his boy would disappear into the garage for hours. It was a labour of love—love for each other and for the thing they were creating. The wooden hull was painted bright red and it was trimmed with gleaming white sails. When it was finished, they travelled to a nearby lake for the boat’s trial run. Before launching it the father tied a string to its stern to keep it from sailing too far.
The boat performed beautifully, but before long a motorboat crossing the lake cut the string, and the sailboat drifted out of sight on the large lake. Attempts to find it were fruitless, and both father and son wept over its loss. A few weeks later as the boy was walking home from school he passed his favourite toy store and was amazed to see a toy sailboat in the window—his sailboat! He ran inside to claim the boat, telling the storekeeper about his experience on the lake. The store owner explained that he had found the boat while on a fishing trip. “You may be its maker,” he said, “but as a finder I am its legal owner. You may have it back—for fifty dollars.” The boy was stunned at how much it would cost him to regain his boat, but since it was so precious to him he quickly set about earning the money to buy it back.
Months of hard work later he joyfully walked into the toy store and handed the owner fifty dollars in exchange for his sailboat. It was the happiest day of his life. As he left the store he held the boat up to the sunlight. Its colours gleamed as though newly painted. I made you, but I lost you, he said. Now at great sacrifice I have bought you back. That makes you twice mine, and twice mine is mine forever.
God Has Bought Us Back
On Good Friday, God says to man, I made you, but I lost you. Now at great sacrifice I have bought you back. That makes you twice mine, and twice mine is mine forever. God has made us and on the cross he has bought us back.
As you listen to the Good Friday story, do you hear what did not happen? It becomes clear from Scripture that Jesus did not go down in defeat. Yes, he died. But Scripture does not portray his death as the last failing breath of a beaten man. If ever there was a death with dignity, here we see it. Luke, the physician, describes Jesus as laying down his life. It was not taken from him. He went through the pangs and torments of hell, and was still alive.
We also see that Jesus did not abandon his trust in the heavenly Father. Having been left in the darkness of God’s judgment, he still could look up to heaven and say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Does that surprise you? When we go through our dark hours, are we not inclined to doubt the love and care of our heavenly Father? How could Jesus still want to place himself in the Father’s hands? Look what the Father had just put him through!
It is also clear from Scripture that the darkness did not win on that horrible Friday afternoon. It held sway for 3 hours, and then it went back to its place.
I heard that the Old English word for ‘good’ is ‘holy’—and so it could be described as the Holy Friday.