Why is Good Friday known as Good Friday when the first Good Friday wasn’t a good day for most people? Perhaps it would have been better labelled as Bad Friday? After all, the day didn’t go well for Jesus. This was the day He was flogged, forced to carry His cross until he could go no further, and then crucified. But one of the thieves crucified with Jesus recognised that Jesus was God’s Son, as did the Roman soldier in charge of the execution party. Not all bad then?
Good Friday wasn’t a good day for the disciples. Scared out of their wits in the Garden of Gethsemane where they could barely keep their eyes open, they then witnessed the arrest of their leader. Surely that couldn’t be right? How could Jesus allow Himself to be arrested, interrogated, beaten and sentenced to death? Hadn’t Jesus managed to walk away from trouble in the past? What would they do without Jesus? Not a Good Friday at all. Especially for Peter, still smarting from the knowledge that He had betrayed Jesus. And somehow none of them managed to piece the jigsaw together, or understand what was happening and why it was happening.
I am guessing that the day wasn’t too good for Pontius Pilate either. It was probably the case that Pilate would not have given two hoots whenever an innocent man went to the cross. They were only Jews after all: A conquered, but still troublesome people. But this Jew was different, and Pilate knew it, as did Mrs Pilate.
The Pharisees thought they were having a good day. The buzz of seeing their hated enemy crucified soon faded when the skies darkened and the curtain in the Temple was split in two from top (i.e. supernaturally) to bottom. I wonder what they thought about that? But there was worse to come when three days later a massive lump of rock was miraculously moved from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb, which was then found to be empty .
How about God? Do we believe that it was a Good Friday or a bad Friday from His perspective? I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for God. Separated from His beloved Son and having to watch Him suffer, without being able to do anything to help. A bad day in some respects, but a necessary day. The day when Satan was defeated forever. The day when Jesus did the unthinkable by giving Himself in complete surrender so that all humanity would have the chance of forgiveness and eternal life. That makes it a Good Friday for us, if we acknowledge Jesus and accept His gift of new life. But is that enough? If Jesus gave Himself in complete surrender for us, shouldn’t we give ourselves in complete surrender to Him? And shouldn’t we surrender to Him daily? Because if we don’t it sort of devalues what Jesus did, meaning that potentially Good Friday isn’t as good as it could be. Did you have a Good Friday today?
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)