Good Friday is the Christian holiday that commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ at Calvary, which occurred on the Friday before Easter. Although the events of that day are dark and bleak, Christians call it “good” because it is believed to be the most momentous weekend in history. It marks the turning point for all creation, as Christians believe that through his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death, and opened the way to eternal life for all who believe in him.
The term “Good Friday” may have originated from the old English word “good” meaning “holy.” Alternatively, it may refer to the belief that the death of Jesus was a “good” or necessary sacrifice, which made it possible for humanity to be reconciled with God.
For Christians, Good Friday is a solemn day of reflection and repentance, as they contemplate the immense suffering and sacrifice that Jesus endured for their sake. It is also a day of hope, as they look forward to the joy of Easter Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead, triumphing over sin and death, and offering the promise of new life and resurrection to all who believe in him.
So, while the events of Good Friday are indeed dark and bleak, Christians see them as a necessary prelude to the glory of Easter, and a reminder of the depth of God’s love and sacrifice for humanity.
Why Is it called ‘Good’ Friday?
The day we commemorate Jesus’ death is known as Good Friday, despite the darkness and suffering that occurred on that day. While some Christian traditions refer to it as Sorrowful Friday, the term “Good” is fitting because it represents the culmination of God’s plan to save humanity from sin. The origin of the term “Good” is debated, with some suggesting it comes from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name is appropriate because Jesus’ suffering and death was necessary for us to receive the joy of Easter.
In the same way that we need to understand the bad news of our sinful condition before we can appreciate the good news of deliverance, we need to recognize the suffering and sacrifice of Good Friday before we can celebrate the resurrection on Easter. Jesus’ death was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and allowed forgiveness and salvation to be offered to all who believe in him. Without this sacrifice, God could not be both just and the justifier of those who trust in Jesus.
At the cross, we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. The righteousness and peace that were promised in Psalm 85:10 come together at the cross, where God’s demands for justice coincided with his mercy. Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin, so that we could receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace. This is why Good Friday, despite being a day of darkness and suffering, is so Good. It marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross, leading to our salvation and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.
When Is Good Friday This Year?
On April 7th, 2023, Good Friday will be observed. It is always celebrated on the Friday before Easter Sunday. If you’re interested in seeing a full list of Good Friday dates, you can visit “When is Good Friday?” Additionally, if you want to see a complete timeline of the Holy Week of Easter, you can visit “When Is Easter?” to learn more.
Good Friday in the Bible
The events of the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus are described in the Gospel of Matthew as follows:
As Jesus was being led to the place of crucifixion, the soldiers met a man named Simon from Cyrene and forced him to carry the cross. They arrived at Golgotha, which means “the place of the skull”. They offered Jesus wine mixed with gall, but he refused to drink it. After they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by casting lots. They sat down and kept watch over him there.
Above Jesus’ head, they placed a written charge against him, stating that he was the king of the Jews. Two rebels were also crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, saying that he should save himself if he is the Son of God.
The chief priests, teachers of the law, and elders also mocked him, saying that he could not save himself and that he claimed to be the Son of God. The rebels who were also crucified with him insulted him in the same way.
From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over the land. At about three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some who were standing there thought he was calling for Elijah. One of them ran and got a sponge filled with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” Then, Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and gave up his spirit.
At that moment, the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open. Many holy people who had died were raised to life and appeared to many people in the holy city after Jesus’ resurrection.
When the centurion and those guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and everything that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” Many women were also there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
Bible Verses about Good Friday
Romans 5:6-10 – “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a righteous person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life!”
1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By his wounds you were healed.”
Isaiah 53:3-5 – “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Mark 9:31 – “For he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.'”
Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest who teaches theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. He is the author of On the Grace of God, co-author of Rid of My Disgrace and Save Me from Violence with his wife, and editor of Christian Theologies of Scripture. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and JustinHolcomb.com.