Today is Good Friday. We call it “good” because we know how the story ends—it is the doorstep to the salvation encountered on Easter Sunday. But Good Friday was a bad day, a horrid day. Good Friday was the worst day in history.
As followers of Jesus we must not overlook His story, the full story. To skip to the end is to rob the story of its power and its main character of glory. Thinking of Friday only as good ignores the narrative, the true history. There was a road traveled by a real man—the God-man—and we must acknowledge and dwell on His full gory story.
Easter depicts the stunning brightness of miraculous life against the pitch-blackness of death, the death that happened on that Friday. So to think of Good Friday as a celebration is to dull the brightness of Easter. No, Good Friday is a commemoration, not a celebration. It serves as a precursor to the real celebration. It is a time of reflection and sorrow. We must not let our aversion to the reality of mortality and exposure to suffering lead us astray. On Good Friday we commemorate the sacrifice, the humility, the love, and the overcoming of evil, but we do so by reflecting on the pain of Jesus.
Pain is the theme of today, and sorrow. It is a day of torture, betrayal, denial, abandonment by both God and man, forsaking, and the ultimate injustice. Today we remember the murder of the innocent, the truly innocent. On this Good Friday we must let the words of Jesus confront us:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
What does it mean to be forsaken by God? What does it feel like to be turned on by the one with whom you share a perfect, eternal union? Jesus did this by taking our place, and if it had been us on the cross we could not have asked, “Why?” We would know we deserved it. But not Jesus. He deserved none of it. It was all of love.
The story of salvation is one of multiple acts, and the Good Friday act is the dark before the dawn. It is pure blackness with no hope in sight. The seeming Savior is dead, the only truly good man in history unfairly accused and brutally slain. There is no hope today, not in this act of the story.
The hope comes Sunday, with the miracle of resurrection. And yes, I just looked ahead. As believers we live in perpetual hope. But we must remember to soak in the horror of this terrible “good” day. For today, don’t skip ahead. You know what’s coming. You know of hope. But remember that Easter is sweet because Good Friday was bad.