Good Friday is known as “good” Friday due to the long history and quirky nature of the English language. Frosted Flakes are “good.” Eskimos Pies are “good”. Crucifixion is blindingly horrific.
“Good” as in Good Friday is used in the now-obsolete sense of being “Holy” – which is in the near-obsolete sense of being “Great” — which ends up in the confusing sense of memorializing the agonizing death of the Savior of the world as being a “good” Friday.
So it wasn’t really “good” but it qualifies as unquestionably the greatest event of all time.
It was the time that the Creator of the Universe stepped out of space and time to demonstrate how to live the perfect life demanded by the Law and then paid the penalty due for our shortcomings – a penalty administered by His own creation.
Is there a greater event than that? Can there be?
Jesus said that “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
What could be greater than that?
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die,” notes the Apostle Paul. (Romans 5:7)
Think about that – let it sink into your mind and your heart on this Great Friday. There is no greater love a man can express than to die for a friend.
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)
God’s love for us is such that His sacrifice was on behalf of His enemies!
Jesus was paraded naked before His enemies on this existence – and before His enemies in the next – all of them jeering the Creator like He was no better than they.
Indeed, He was made subject to them on every level – sinners condemning Him, torturing Him, mocking Him – while the demons of hell roared their mocking approval.
He was beaten, whipped, spat upon, clubbed, cut, abused and tortured beyond what the mind can comprehend, before being nailed to a Cross and hung until He was finally, mercifully dead.
Not ‘good’. Not ‘holy’ in any sense of the word that I can make fit the circumstances. And ‘great’ only in the sense that Japan’s recent 9.0 earthquake was a ‘Great Quake’.
But from the perspective of the Lord of Glory, as He hung there gasping out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and that of those in the crowd receiving that absolution, there was only great agony and great sadness and great misery and great earthquakes and great events.
And great darkness. Great darkness.
For three hours, as the sins of the world were heaped upon the Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ was alone, separated from the Father, in unimaginable agony, before crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
So it wasn’t good. And it wasn’t holy. But it was certainly great.
Now, was it on Friday?
The idea that the Lord was crucified on a Friday has some seemingly significant problems, not the least of which is that Friday afternoon to Sunday morning doesn’t sound like three days and three nights.
One can run through the texts and find some seeming anomalies because there are two Sabbaths involved in the Crucifixion story. Passover was a High (annual) Sabbath, whereas Friday evening at sundown marked the weekly Sabbath Day.
Most authorities agree that based on the Gospel accounts the day of the Crucifixion was most probably a Friday based on the testimony of John 19:42.
“There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
But there is also a strong argument that the day of Crucifixion was actually Wednesday – and not Friday. This theory is based on the two Sabbaths – the high Sabbath (Passover) and the weekly Sabbath.
John 19:42 argues against it. The “Jew’s preparation day” is called the Day of Preparation and is in accordance with the Law of Moses that says no food is to be prepared on the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:23, 35:3)
This is in reference to the weekly Sabbath which begins at sundown Friday. So the “Jew’s preparation day” is Friday until sundown.
But that week there were two Sabbaths – the high Sabbath of Passover on Thursday and the weekly Sabbath at Friday sundown. The annual, or High Sabbath does not require a ‘day of preparation’ because food preparation is part of the Passover celebration and allowed according to Exodus 12:16.
So it would seem a certainty that the correct day is Friday. Yes? Well, maybe.
John 19:31 says that He was already on the Cross and it was Preparation Day and that the next day was a High Sabbath, which seemingly would have been Passover.
That was on Thursday, which seems to suggest that He must have been crucified on Wednesday.
Confused yet? Let me help. That week there were actually three Sabbaths. (There. Doesn’t that help?)
Jesus died in the first month of the Jewish year, just prior to the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Leviticus 23:6)
This feast started on the fifteenth day and for seven days Israel could eat no leavened bread.
To prevent accidentally eating leaven, all leaven and leavening products were completely purged from the house.
“For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel . . .” (Exodus 12:19)
The leaven was purged from the houses on the day before the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread. It took place on the 14th day, which was Friday. That made both Thursday and Saturday that week High Sabbath Days.
John 19:14 says that it was the ‘Preparation Day for the Passover’ but the Feast of the Passover is also a seven-day period that starts on the 14th day and ends on the 20th. But Friday was the Day of Preparation for both the weekly Sabbath and the High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread.
So is it Wednesday or Friday? It seems as clear as mud. But there is a way to sort it out.
Astronomy confirms the eyewitness accounts of the three hours of darkness while Jesus endured the sins of the world.
On Friday, April 3, AD 33 there was a total lunar eclipse that began at 3:40 PM and reached its maximum at 5:15 PM with 60% of the moon eclipsed. As the moon rose over Jerusalem it was in total eclipse and stayed in eclipse for some thirty minutes, ending at 6:50 PM.
The effect of a lunar eclipse is what we sometimes call a Blood Moon. We just had one last December 10th. The next lunar eclipse will be June 15th.
The secular Greek historian Phegon wrote of earthquakes and a blood moon occurring during the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (32/33 AD). Eusebius linked the blood moon and the earthquakes with the 18th year of Tiberius reign, which would have been Spring of AD 33.
The description given by the Gospel of a lunar eclipse lasting about three hours is entirely consistent with the calculations that say a lunar eclipse that lasted about three hours was visible from Golgotha in Jerusalem on Friday, April 3 AD 33.
What does it mean? It means that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon, buried before dark, spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the grave, rising at the start of the third day — Sunday, the first day of the week.
Today is the day that we recall with awesome wonder that our God is so great that He humbled Himself to take the form of a mere man and submit Himself to His own creation so that He could redeem . . . you.
He endured the mocking, the scourging, the humiliation, the pain, and the incomprehensibly agonizing weight of the sins of the world separating Him from the Father . . . . and He did it all for you. That’s how much He loved you.
The next time you wonder whether or not you can undo what He did by your sin, think about what it was that He actually did to ransom you for salvation.
“Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9-10)
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Spend some time today meditating on the price paid for your eternity. Now ask yourself, if you paid THAT MUCH for something, would you trust it to somebody like you for safekeeping?
Neither does He.