“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left.” Luke 23:33
Does it seem strange to you that the day which is named in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is called, “Good Friday” in the English speaking world? Why not “Black Friday?” or “The Friday of Mourning?” Actually the latter term comes closer than the term Good Friday to what the day is known as in German. The German word, so I am told, is Karfreitage. The prefix Kar is obsolete, but the balance of the word means “mourning” or “woe.” Hence, the word refers to a day of mourning and suffering.
In Latin America it is known as “Holy Friday.” Slavs and Hungarians call it “Great Friday.” In Norway, it is called “Long Friday.” Some believe that in the early days of the church the day was called God’s Friday, a term which evolved into Good Friday. What happened on that day, or at least the event we remember on that day, is far more important than what it is called. So what did happen?
If you saw Mel Gibson’s very graphic film entitled, “The Passion of the Christ,” you were confronted with the physical realities of what took place. As He prayed Jesus was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guard, who brought Him before the Sanhedrin, a counsel of Jewish leaders who did not have the authority to execute anyone, but who, in turn, sent Him to Pilate, then to Herod, then back to Pilate, who reluctantly gave the order that Jesus be crucified.
How He was crucified, and even by whom He was crucified, is also unimportant in light of what it represented for the very son of God to be lifted up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The cross represented death for one who should never have died. It represented sacrifice performed by one to whom we should bow in worship and adoration. Well it has been said while there was no room for him at the inn when Jesus was born, there was room for him along with all humanity at Golgotha’s hill.
Sam Jones, an evangelist of the past century, said that the cross was a symbol, a symbol of God’s heartbreak over a world that has gone astray. It was the culmination of a very costly love which God had for humankind and for you as an individual; and it is here that we can come and find forgiveness; and the blazing fire of love kindled there can set you on fire when its sparks fall on the dryness of your heart and life.
The cross also represents what should happen to our lives when we are brought into confrontation with the message of Good Friday. Paul put it like this: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The cross represents both death and life—death to sin, life to righteousness; death to self, life to the spirit; death to my carnal desires, life to the indwelling presence of His Spirit changing me into His image.
Time allows just one more thought. The cross also means blood was spilt, and the shedding of blood at that tree bought redemption, forgiveness, and cleansing. Paul put it like this: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Was it really Good Friday? What happened there is the best news ever proclaimed! As we used to sing, “There is power, power, power in the blood, in the precious blood of the Lamb!” Yes, it is Good Friday. There the victory of the ages was won for all eternity.
Resource reading: Luke 23
This devotional © by Harold J. Sala. All rights reserved. Used by permission from Guidelines International Ministries. Not for sale or profit.