Good Friday, also known as “Holy Friday,” is the Friday immediately preceding Resurrection Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified.
Today is the day Jesus was delivered over to Pilate the governor of Judaea. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was King of the Jews, He responded that Pilate had said so. Still, Pilate believed Jesus had done nothing deserving of death and tried to free Him by asking the people which prisoner they wanted released (as was custom)—but the people shouted Barabbas.
Even at the urging of his wife not to harm this man because of a dream she had, Pilate continued on in the death proceedings. Jesus was beaten, mocked, and crucified—but there was something different about His death.
Mark 15:37-39 states,
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!
The Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares, “…do this in remembrance of me…for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, the Messiah died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners [missing God’s goal], the Messiah died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Why is Holy Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of the Messiah’s death are very good! Romans 5:8,
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, the Messiah died for us.
First Peter 3:18 tells us,
For the Messiah died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
Many churches celebrate Holy Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which the Messiah’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanksgiving, a message centered on the Messiah’s suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not followers of Jesus choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of the Messiah on the cross—along with His bodily resurrection—is the paramount event of our faith. We have atonement and reconciliation to God through Jesus. Now that is some Good News!
What is atonement? In dying for the sins of the world, Jesus fulfilled and replaced the OT sacrificial system, so that all who believe in him are restored to fellowship with God. The Messiah Jesus is the true high priest, who finally liberates his people from the guilt of sin, by offering himself as the supreme sacrifice.
What is reconciliation? On account of missing God’s goal (sin), people are alienated from God and cut off from fellowship with him. Through Jesus, God reconciles the world to himself, breaking down the barriers of hostility and estrangement.
The atoning purpose of Jesus death – Jesus the Messiah’s death on behalf of others.
- “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NASB)
- “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:14–18 (NASB)
- And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NASB)
- But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9 (NASB)
- We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16 (NASB)
A broken relationship through missing God’s goal (aka sin) brings alienation from God.
- But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 (NASB)
- Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:23–24 (NASB)
- Genesis 4:13–14 (NASB) — Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! “Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
- Isaiah 48:22 (NASB) — “There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.
- Isaiah 64:7 (NASB) — There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.
- Jeremiah 33:5 (NASB) — ‘While they are coming to fight with the Chaldeans and to fill them with the corpses of men whom I have slain in My anger and in My wrath, and I have hidden My face from this city because of all their wickedness:
- Luke 18:13 (NASB) — “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
- Romans 5:10 (NASB) — For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
- Romans 8:7 (NASB) — because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
- Ephesians 2:1–3 (NASB) — And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
- Ephesians 2:12 (NASB) — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
- Ephesians 4:18 (NASB) — being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
- Colossians 1:21 (NASB) — And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
- James 4:4 (NASB) — You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
God takes the initiative in bringing about reconciliation
- 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 (NASB) — Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
- Romans 5:6–8 (NASB) — For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- Galatians 4:4–5 (NASB) — But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
- Ephesians 2:4–5 (NASB) — But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
- 1 John 4:10 (NASB) — In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.