by Matthew Lautz
Hint: It’s not the crucifixion.
Ever wonder why we call the day Jesus died “Good Friday”? What’s so good about the day a Jewish carpenter from first century Palestine was executed by Rome?
CRUCIFIXION IS ANYTHING BUT GOOD
The death of Jesus was certainly not “good”. It was terrible. Horrific. The Romans were professional killers and torturers, and they had good reason. In order to maintain control and power, the Romans wanted to come up with a punishment for criminals and rebels that would be the ultimate deterrent. The result of their brainstorming was crucifixion.
The guilty person would be beaten into critical condition and then nailed or tied up on a wooden cross or post. Over many, many hours and often days, the person’s body weight would slowly incapacitate their ability to breathe. With their arms often coming out of joint and their legs weakening, or sometimes broken, the person would loose all strength to support themselves. As gravity wore them down, they would eventually suffocate.
There was nothing “good” about the death of Jesus. He endured the most painful of deaths at the hands of a tyrant empire. He was betrayed and abandoned by his closet friends and followers. And worse than all of that, he was forsaken by God.
There is nothing “good” to see in this day. It was a dark day, ending in earthquakes and blackouts. There is no benefit in the death of Jesus.
WHAT ABOUT FORGIVENESS?
Now if you’re a Christian you might say, “But his death is about the forgiveness of sins. Isn’t that what’s good?”
Yes that’s a fair point. Jesus did say that he shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. But here’s the follow-up question: What good is forgiveness to the dead?
The dead don’t need forgiveness. Only the living can benefit from being forgiven. If Jesus died to forgive us our sins and stayed dead, then Good Friday doesn’t do anybody any good.
The only reason Good Friday is good, the only reason that forgiveness does us any good, is because of what came next in the story.
THE RESURRECTION MAKES IT GOOD
If Jesus stayed dead then there would be no Christianity. There would be no Easter. There would be no Christmas. Frankly, there would be no Western civilization, meaning no democracy, no human rights, no school system, and no United States (think about that!).
A lot of our lives as we know it hinge on one real historical event happening some two thousand years ago, and it’s what makes Good Friday “good”.
Jesus rising from the dead on the third day, what we call Easter Sunday, is the light that covers the darkness of his death, turning what was evil into something "good". Because he rose, because he actually, historically, physically came back to life, his death was not a loss but rather a victory. He conquered death! The resurrection makes his death a good thing.
The sacrifice for human sin was paid in death, but the promise of new life was fulfilled in resurrection. What this means is that we can actually have a life to be forgiven. Remember, forgiveness only matters to the living.
HIS NEW LIFE IS OUR NEW LIFE
The good news is that anyone, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, can be forgiven by God and receive new life with Him. The reason that’s true is because a Jewish carpenter named Jesus, who was God with skin on, gave his life on this day, this Good Friday, and then three days later came back to life.
Why is Good Friday “good”? Because death was not the end of Jesus and it doesn’t have to be our end either.
So give thanks today for the sacrifice of Jesus. Remember the torture and suffering of the cross. But don’t loose sight of the real reason we remember the cross…
…because three days later the tomb was empty.