Good Friday – What is it?
Good Friday is observed on the Friday that proceeds Easter Sunday (also called Resurrection Sunday). It is a day when people remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Many people, mostly Christians, celebrate this day by attending a Good Friday service where they read the biblical accounts of Jesus’ death on the cross. (Read Luke 19.)
Good Friday – What Happened on Good Friday?
Although the term “Good Friday” is not mentioned in the Bible, we can study the events that took place on the day Jesus was crucified. After Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was taken through several trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54–23:25). Three of the trials were by Jewish leaders and three by the Romans (John 18:12-14, Mark 14:53-65, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:6-12, Mark 15:6-15). These events led up to Good Friday.
Pilate tried to compromise with the religious leaders by having Jesus beaten, but this act didn’t satisfy them, so Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified (Mark 15:6-15). Jesus was mocked by the soldiers as they dressed Him in a purple robe and a crown of thorns (John 19:1-3). The sentence was written “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Jesus, assisted by Simon of Cyrene, was then forced to carry His cross to the place of His death. It was at Golgotha that Jesus was crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22).
Later in the day, the Bible tells us that Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and was granted permission. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb. He then rolled a big stone in front of the entrance.
Good Friday – Was it Friday?
The Bible does not tell us exactly the day of the week Jesus was crucified. Most scholars believe it was either Friday or Wednesday. There are others who compromise and say it was a Thursday.1 In Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
- Friday – We know that Jesus was in the grave for three days. If Jesus was crucified on a Friday, how can there be three days before Sunday? Proponents of a Friday crucifixion say that in a Jewish mindset, a part of a day was still considered to be a full day. So, if Jesus was in the grave for part of Friday, all day Saturday, and then part of Sunday, that would be considered three days. Mark 15:42-43 says that Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath. If the Sabbath mentioned was the weekly Sabbath, then that lends toward a Friday crucifixion.
- Thursday – Proponents of a Thursday crucifixion think there are too many events occurring for a Friday crucifixion to be possible. By adding an extra day, this alleviates the problem.
- Wednesday – This view is based on there being two Sabbaths that week. The first is the one at the end of the crucifixion (Mark 15:42), which would have been the Passover. Then the second Sabbath was the weekly Sabbath. The women would have waited until after the Thursday Sabbath to purchase their spices on Friday, then rested on Saturday (Sabbath), and brought their spices to the tomb on Sunday morning. This takes a literal interpretation of the three days and three nights mentioned in Matthew 12:40.
No matter what day Jesus was crucified, we know that He died and rose from the grave! Since the day is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, we can assume that it is not all that important.
Good Friday – Why is it “Good”?
Is good Friday really “good”? It may seem odd that people celebrate the day Jesus’ was crucified as “good.” Obviously, the suffering Jesus went through on Good Friday was not good. He was whipped, beaten, mocked, and killed in a very violent way. How can that be good?
The results of Jesus’ death are very good! This is explained in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Then in 1 Peter 3:18, it is reiterated again: “For Christ 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.”
Do you see Good Friday as a “good” day? Has Jesus washed away your sins and forgiven you? Will you spend eternity with Him?