Why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it commemorates such a dark and bleak event – the
day of horrible suffering and ultimate death of our Lord?
For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to
be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was
raised to life again, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the
decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus
died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what
God had promised all along in the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3 states, “For I delivered unto
you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the
On Good Friday we remember the day that Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as
the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It is followed by Resurrection Sunday (Easter), the glorious
celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead claiming victory over sin and death.
Still, why do we call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or “Black Friday” or
something similar? The name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of
Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their
In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand
the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of
deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved.
In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for
us to receive the joy of the Resurrection. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on
Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out
for us. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not
be both “Just and the Justifier” of those who trust in Jesus. Romans 3:26 states “To declare, I
say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus”. The day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the
deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage.
The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings
of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” “Mercy and truth are met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where
God’s demands, His righteousness, coincided with His mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and
peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin.
Hebrews 12:2 states “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was
set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it was the painful pathway that would lead
to His resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.
Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark
and yet so Good.
(Primary Source: Justin Holcomb, Christianity.com)