On the surface, the name “Good Friday” seems like a misnomer. To Jesus’ friends and followers, there was nothing good about that Friday. The week had started off well. On Sunday, Jesus had entered Jerusalem with a celebration and He spent the week proclaiming the message of His Kingdom to all who would listen. They had even enjoyed the Passover meal together the night before. But during the early morning hours of that fateful Friday, everything changed.
Before the sun even rose, as Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was betrayed by one of His friends. Jesus was arrested and His friends and followers scattered. All except for one. Peter followed at a distance as Jesus was led away to the religious council who proceeded to falsely accuse Him of blasphemy and then slap Him and spit on Him. Before Peter realized what was happening, he had three times denied even knowing Jesus just as Jesus said he would. Peter broke down in shame as he watched his Lord being taken to the governor to be sentenced.
The religious leaders were determined to get rid of Jesus, so they sent Him to Pilate to have Him sentenced to death. The crowds of people that five days earlier had welcomed Jesus with cheers were now shouting “crucify him!” They chose to free a murderous insurrectionist and to have Jesus executed instead.
The Roman soldiers enjoyed the flogging of Jesus more than they should have as they beat Him just short of death. They took off all His clothes and forced a sharp crown of thorns on His head. They beat Him, they spit on Him, they mocked Him, then they led Him away to be crucified.
Before “Good Friday” was even half over, Jesus’ hands and feet were violently nailed into rough wooden beams and He was hoisted up naked before onlookers that continued to mock Him. He had broken no laws, yet He was being executed as a common criminal. And the worst part of all was the unbearable weight of the sins of the world upon Him as His Father, God, looked away from the horrible sight.
About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46 NIV
Then as Jesus breathed His last breath, He proclaimed, “It is finished!” and the earth shook, the rocks split, and the curtain of the temple tore in two. Jesus’ lifeless body was taken down from the cross and buried in a heavily guarded tomb and that was it. Jesus was dead. His followers were lost without Him. Where would they go from here?
There was nothing good about that Friday, but that wasn’t the end of the story! Three days later the tomb was empty! Jesus is alive! The awful events of Good Friday happened to Jesus so that they don’t have to happen to you and me. He was beaten and executed because of our sin. He took the entire weight of my sin and yours upon His body and died in our place. Good Friday is good because without it we’d have no hope for salvation. Good Friday was God’s plan all along.
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds, we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5 NIV