Tag Archives: What happened on Good Friday?

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

Have you ever wondered why we call today “Good Friday”? From what I can tell, only English speaking countries call it “Good.” The Germans call it Karfreitag, which means, basically, “Mourning Friday.” Other languages call it “Holy Friday.” Perhaps we chose “good” because “holy” was already taken by Saturday.

But let’s take a closer look at Friday of holy week by reviewing what happened on Maundy Thursday (the subject of discussion for another time):

  • Jesus shared his last supper with his disciples
  • Judas betrayed Jesus to the ruling authorities
  • Jesus cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking to bypass the cross, but then relented to the will of his father in heaven. The disciples slept.
  • Jesus was arrested like a criminal and appeared before the High Priest
  • He was mocked and beaten
  • Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, denied him three times
  • Jesus was delivered to Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate, who found Jesus innocent—but then handed him over to be crucified
  • The people who a week earlier were clamoring to crown him king were now shouting “Crucify Him!”
  • Jesus was beaten and mocked.

Doesn’t sound like a good day. But then it gets worse for Jesus. On “Good” Friday:

  • Jesus was forced to carry his cross to Golgotha, walking through crowds that mocked him, spit on him, and hurled stones at him
  • He was then nailed to a cross between two criminals
  • Hanging on the cross, Jesus was mocked by the people he sought to save
  • He experienced abandonment by his father in heaven
  • Jesus carried the sins of the world on his shoulders
  • Then around 3pm, Jesus died

Doesn’t sound like much of a good Friday to me. In fact, if all of the above-mentioned actions were committed against me, I would pretty much consider it a Bad Friday. Or even Sad Friday. Mourning Friday makes more sense. So it doesn’t make sense calling it good.

Depending on how you define “good.”

Oh yes, one other thing occurred on Good Friday:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Matthew 27:50–51 (NIV)

The curtain in the temple is a reference to the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. The Holy Place was the room that priests entered regularly to replenish the oil in the Golden Lampstand, supply fresh bread for the Table of Showbread, and  furnish hot coals for the Altar of Incense.

The Holy of Holies contained one item: the Ark of the Covenant. The lid on the ark was called the Mercy Seat, which the Jews considered to be the throne of almighty God. Only one day a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. Usually, a rope was tied around one foot so if he was struck dead, the other priests could pull him outside without endangering themselves by enter God’s presence.

So a veil separated the two rooms. The curtain in Herod’s temple was 30 feet wide, 60 feet high, and 4 inches thick. It was so heavy that three hundred priests were reaquired to hang it from the ceiling.

For over a thousand years, a veil hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, separating a holy God from his sinful people.

When Jesus died, that veil was torn in two. The divide separating God from humanity was torn. Anyone can approach God in prayer without the assistance of a pastor or priest. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have been forgiven and granted access into God’s life-giving presence. And we need no longer live in fear of being struck dead when we encounter God!

Is that good news? No, that’s great news!

The reason for calling today “Good” Friday is a mystery. But Jesus’ death on Good Friday is great news for all of us.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. If you don’t have plans for Easter and you live in the Denver area, please join us at The Neighborhood Church.

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The Garden

by Michael J. Klassen

They were his last moments of freedom, of eternity clothed in flesh. He had already eaten his final supper with his 12 disciples and washed their feet. How would Jesus spend his remaining moments?

“Let’s go pray,” he said to his closest friends. So, Jesus returned to the Garden.

Returned? you ask.

Two weeks ago, I submitted some thoughts about Adam and Eve in the garden. In the beginning, history’s first couple lived in the garden of Eden—and in the cool of the day, they enjoyed going on relaxing walks with God. Communion for them consisted not of bread and wine, but of unhindered communication with their God.

Then we read in Genesis 3:8 that Adam and Eve hid themselves from their Creator while he was looking for them to set out on another walk. Their sin created a wall of separation between them and God. And one of the consequences of their sin was expulsion from the intimacy of the garden.

The Old Testament prophets spoke directly to this separation from God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

Fast forward to Good Friday (which, according to the Hebrew calendar, begins at sundown on the previous night). In his final remaining hours, Jesus returned to the garden. He returned because as a member of the Trinity, Jesus walked with Adam and Eve via his inclusion with the Father and Spirit.

Although none of the accounts in the Gospels record it, I can’t resist speculating that somewhere in his conversation with his heavenly Father, Jesus said something like this:

Daddy, do you remember the walks we used to take with Adam and Eve? As the sun began setting in Eden in the cool of the day, we bared our hearts with them, and they bared their hearts with us. Do you remember?

And then it all changed. After eating from the tree in the garden, they suddenly grew ashamed of their nakedness. Their sins created a wall between us and them. How I miss those conversations.

So here I stand in the garden again—prepared to undo what has been done.

After he finished praying, the soldiers appeared and escorted him first to a Jewish trial, then a Roman trial, and finally, down the crowded but lonely Via Dolorosa to the cross.

Lastly, on that first Good Friday, we read:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matthew 27:50–51 (NIV)

The curtain was torn.

Once again, the curtain that separated humanity from communion with God was irreparably torn in two. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, our sins were once-and-for-all forgiven, and we were given access to enjoy unhindered communion with God.

Just like Adam and Eve enjoyed with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Garden.

Today’s readings: Matthew 26:36-56; John 18:13-19:16; Luke 23:26-49; Mark 15:42-47.

If you don’t have plans for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning–and you live in the Denver area–we invite you to worship with us at The Neighborhood Church. We meet every Sunday morning at 10:00am at Dakota Ridge High School.

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