Is it morbid to refer to the day that Jesus was crucified as Good Friday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Good. What do we have in mind? If you asked for a good pizza, one with mouse droppings on it would quite likely not be what you have in mind. If you ask for a good movie, the one with the worst rating at Rotten Tomatoes would not be what you have in mind. If you asked for a good spouse, one who will abuse you and watch internet porn is not what you have in mind. If you ask for a good babysitter, you don’t want one who is a convicted and unrepentant pedophile. Yet here we talk about Good Friday and what do we say happened on it? Good Friday is the day that the righteous Son of God was crucified.
What was that?
You don’t even have to be a Christian at this point to see the problem. Even most non-Christians would hold Jesus up as a good figure worthy of emulation. Few would say that Jesus was the kind of man who deserved crucifixion. Yet that is exactly what happened. So why do we call this day “Good Friday”?
We do not call it good because something good happened. My stance with Jesus is that based on what we have from Him in the Gospels, either the crucifixion was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived, or it was the most wicked act of all that put to death the most righteous man who ever lived. When we say that this was a wicked act, we say it because we believe Jesus was a righteous man. It is important to note that we are not saying the crucifixion was good or was a good action. Yet if it was not a good action, how can we speak then of Good Friday?
Simple reflection on your own past should show this. How many of us have gone through times that seemed absolutely horrible at the time and we would not want to repeat them ever again, but in the end we look back on those times and say “Yes. That was a terrible time, but I am ultimately glad I went through it because that time enabled XYZ to happen.” Perhaps it led to a new development in your life like a career path or a spouse, or perhaps it led to you developing a certain kind of character that helped you. You would never say that what happened was good, but you would affirm that it was used for good.
In fact, this is what we get in Romans 8. All things work together for good to them that love the Lord. Paul never once says that all things are good. He’s spent much of Romans telling us that much is not good. He instead says all things work for good. Of course, he does not suggest a reckless attitude. He does not think that you should do evil so that good may result, something he explicitly states in Romans 3. He is just saying that whatever happens, if you love the Lord, it will work out for your good. If all Christians everywhere could grasp this message and truly believe it, we would all live radically different lives.
What changes everything is the resurrection. Were it not for the resurrection, as Frank Turek has said, Good Friday would just be called Friday. In fact, no one would really care about that day. We would never have heard anything about Jesus. He would not be talked about at all today and would have died as a no-name in history not worth mentioning. The only reason we talk about Him today is not because of what happened on Friday, but it is because of what happened on Sunday and we really need to grasp what that was. Jesus rose from the dead indeed, but so what? What does that mean?
It means God has vindicated the claims of Jesus. Had He stayed dead, it would have been God saying “Yes. Those claims He made are false.” By raising Him from the dead, God gives the stamp of approval on Jesus’s life. Now there is a new king of this world. There was a challenge to Caesar then and a challenge to all Caesars today. The message we have to give to the world is that Jesus is King and you’d best get in line. We most often want to say it would be “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Can anyone imagine a herald going around the Roman Empire saying “Caesar is Lord and he has a wonderful plan for your life.” The claim is not about what Caesar will do for you. The claim is about what you will do for the Caesar, or in this case, what you will do for Christ.
Now does Christ do a lot for you? Yes. He does. He forgives you of your sins, He grants you a place in the Kingdom, and He promises to raise you up on the last day. That’s good, but if you stop there, then it’s like getting married and then saying “Now what is my spouse going to do for me?” You should be asking the most what you are going to be doing for your spouse. Jesus is not there to serve you. You are there to serve Jesus.
Good Friday is only good because we know it was used for good and we know that because of the resurrection. No one wants to say what happened was good, but God took the greatest evil done and used it for the greatest good. This should remind us all today that God can take the evil and suffering in our own lives and use that for a greater good.