Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death. It’s a day of sorrow and devastating loss as we ponder what He went through on our behalf and the all-consuming grief that swallowed His disciples and other followers.
Good Friday is a dark, dark day that makes us uncomfortable. But we can’t skip over it on our way from Palm Sunday to Easter.
It’s easy to get excited about Palm Sunday, with its pomp and circumstance, songs full of “hosanna” and stories of how excited the people were to see Jesus ride into Jerusalem (it was such an amazing event that all four Gospel writers tell the story; read Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, or John 12:12-19). It’s even easier to get excited about Easter, when we sing of Christ’s resurrection and God’s gift of eternal life for us. Those are great things to celebrate – after all, the things we celebrate at Easter are the reason why Christ came to earth in the first place.
But we shouldn’t jump from one party to the next without stopping to reflect on what’s in between. You can’t go from one end of the street to the other without passing all the houses, businesses or trees along the way. You can’t read the first and last chapters of a book and understand how the characters got from one place to the other.
In the same way, we can’t truly celebrate the joy of Easter if we ignore the events between Sundays. We need to spend some time walking in Christ’s shoes and imagining how He must have felt to know that His hours on earth were literally ticking away. Humble ourselves as He did on Thursday night when He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Feel the disciples’ shock at seeing Him do such a thing and begin to finally realize what Christ meant about serving others.
Follow Christ into the garden and learn from His gut-wrenching prayer for strength and help (Matthew 26:36-46 and John 17). See the compassion and resignation in His eyes when Judas betrayed Him and the soldiers led Him away (Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-14).
Stand silently in response to trumped-up accusations instead of using His power to overthrow everyone conspiring against Him (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, or John 19). Feel the unbearable pain of being beaten and flogged unmercifully. Sag under the weight of a cross too heavy to reasonably bear. Endure indescribable torture while being nailed to that same cross and left to die while people mock and jeer.
It’s hard to dig deep and try to really understand everything Christ went through that week. We don’t like to suffer and don’t usually like to watch other people suffer either; we’d much rather gloss things over and downplay the pain. It’s much more comfortable to focus on the happy days like Palm Sunday and Easter than the agony of Good Friday.
But the fact of the matter is, if Jesus hadn’t gone through the things of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we wouldn’t have an Easter to celebrate. They were horribly necessary steps to get from one Sunday to the next. Otherwise, God couldn’t resurrect Him and show His power over death!
So what’s good about Good Friday? And how can it be called that, considering it’s a day of darkness and torture and death?
There’s nothing good about it if all you see is the darkness, torture, and death. It’s a day of hopelessness and defeat, a day when Satan wins over God and His plan.
What makes Good Friday “good” for us as Christians is knowing that the hopelessness and defeat were only temporary. All hope was not gone and Satan didn’t really win.
As torturous as that day was for Christ, we celebrate because we know His suffering was for us. He was fulfilling God’s perfect plan for our salvation, and so we could someday live with Him in heaven. The blackness of Friday was for a reason — the best reason of all.
Thanks be to God for all He has done for us.