Biblical time starts with the evening. We can see this in the creation account in Genesis (there was evening and there was morning), and it’s how Jews still keep time today with regard to biblical practices.
Therefore, Friday began at sun down on our Thursday. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Jesus is arrested and throughout the night endures six “trials”. None of the Roman leaders can find any fault with Him.
Yet, the religious leaders incite the crowd, and fearing a riot, Pilate washes his hands, and gives in to the crowd – ordering Jesus to be crucified. “Brutal” is a vast understatement for what Jesus endured this entire day.
So, why in the world would we call it Good Friday?
Good, in this sense, actually means “Holy”. You may recall that Jesus was referred to as “Good Teacher” and “Good Shepherd”.
Our English betrays us a little here. Yet, there is a goodness found within Jesus’ suffering. We are told that it is by Jesus’ wounds that we are healed (Isaiah 53). We know that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9). Cursed is the one who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3).
In all of these things, Jesus is taking upon Himself all that we deserved. Just as importantly, Jesus is giving to us all that He earned; we are now – perfect, righteous (in right standing with God), blameless, not guilty. None of this is based on our behavior nor merit – all of it credited (imputed) to us by Jesus.
For six hours, Jesus endured the crucifixion. He then declared “It is finished” and committed His Spirit into His Father’s hands.
It’s now around 3 pm Friday afternoon. The sky goes dark, the earth shakes, the veil separating the the Holy of Holies (the only place where man was allowed to meet with God’s Spirit, and then only in specific ways and at a specific times) from the rest of the Temple is torn from top to bottom, as if God Himself is revealing that He is no longer separating Himself from us, and we are no longer confined to meeting Him in a specific place. This also reveals that there is no more need for priests to offer sacrifices – the perfect and ultimate sacrifice has just been given by Jesus.
Even the Roman guard who has been part of killing Jesus is moved to admit, “Truly this was the Son of God! Certainly this man was innocent.”
Today’s Good News, is that none of this was a surprise to Jesus. Everything that was done to Him, He allowed. He did this for us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The cross was the only way to satisfy the just penalty of our sin. God’s desire is for us to be freed from the bondage of our own rebellion. Jesus knew this is the way it would be accomplished and He new the result would be unending joy – both for Him and for us. Today is both holy and good. That’s really Good News!
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