Seems odd that we would call the day that Jesus was tortured and executed “good.” Watching events unfold as depicted by “The Passion of the Christ” was anything but “good;” it was difficult to watch! How is it that Christians have come to refer to this day as “Good Friday”?
Part of it has to do with the meaning of the word “good.” In its origins, the word “good” could simply mean pious or holy as in “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” So in that sense today is indeed a “holy” or “good” day.
[The German for Good Friday — Karfreitag — seems to make more sense to me. Kar from the Old German kara meaning “mourn” makes this “Mourning Friday,” appropriate for a day we commemorate Jesus’ death.” (See the Wiki article “Good Friday” for more on the above.)]
However, on a deeper level, the “good” in “Good Friday” is more closely related to what God accomplished through Jesus’ death — our atonement: how God addresses our sin and reconciles us to himself through the cross. God’s sovereign plan from the beginning is that we should be made right with God, and Jesus’ death is an integral part* of that plan.
Throughout Christian history theologians have disagreed and debated the details of Christ’s death on the cross — its specific design, intent, and how it accomplishes what it does. Some see in the crucifixion the satisfaction of divine justice made by the sufferings and death of Christ; others focus on the “in our place” aspects of Jesus’ death. Still others emphasize the redemptive elements of God’s election to save us.
Indeed, these are important topics of discussion; however, such conversations should not obscure the essential goodness of a common assertion of them all — God has taken the initiative to take care of our fundamental flaw (i.e. sin) by making us right with himself through Jesus Christ. Good Friday is about God’s good work of atonement. Through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross God offers us the free gift of salvation. And that is good!
May we all love and praise the sovereign God of heaven and earth for the salvation accomplished in the atonement of Jesus Christ the Lord.
*Though a focused look at each aspect of the Christ-event is rewarding, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are to be taken as an integrated, interdependent whole.
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