Good Friday is a day set aside by Christians to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, which is considered the most important event in human history.
This observance often includes re-enacting what happened to Jesus during his last day on Earth, called his ” passion .” On this occasion, Christians also remember that God truly entered into human misery when his Son was crucified–and yet through it all he remained victorious over evil and sin because he rose again after three days.
How Is Good Friday Observed?
The events surrounding Good Friday are dramatized by many churches during special services held on this day. These services are often held outdoors under a large cross or crucifix. Sometimes they include live or re-enacted scenes of Jesus’ persecution, arrest, trial, and death. Churches also hold special services on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday , although these days aren’t as solemn as Good Friday because Christ was already victorious over the power of death by rising from the dead on Easter morning .
Why Is It Called “Good Friday?”
The name for this observance comes from an older English term — “the good friday”–which refers to one thing that happened during Jesus’ horrible ordeal: he was crucified at nine in the morning but died around three in the afternoon (John 19:14). Those who believed at that time that Jesus was “the Messiah , the anointed one of God” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) believed that it was good for him to die because he would then be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven.
Therefore, while the events surrounding Good Friday were horrible and tragic (and caused many to lose faith in Jesus; 1 Corinthians 13:11), they were considered a prelude to triumph over death and evil because of what Christ accomplished through his resurrection .
What Else Happened on Good Friday?
The other thing Christians remember about Good Friday is that after Jesus died, soldiers put his body in a tomb where it would stay until he rose again three days later. The Jews working under Pontius Pilate who assigned the soldiers to take care of Jesus’ body believed he was so good and kind that they didn’t want to break the rules by letting his followers have their leader’s dead body back. This meant that it took some time for Christians to claim Christ’s remains, which gave them further proof of his resurrection .
What Is Remembered on Good Friday?
Christians remember several things about Good Friday. First, they commemorate the crucifixion. Second, they also remember that God truly entered into human misery when his Son was crucified –and yet through it all he remained victorious over evil because he rose again after three days . Third, they remember Jesus’ friends caring for him up until he died. Fourth, they in hope for a better world–even if they’re not yet able to live in it–because Christ is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Did You Know?
The Bible doesn’t mention on which day Jesus was crucified, so most Christians agree that he died on Good Friday . But even among different Christian denominations , there are differing beliefs about when on Good Friday Jesus actually died. Some believe it happened at noon, while others hold it happened at three. This reflects a scripture in John’s Gospel (John 19:14) where it says that the sky grew dark from the sixth hour to about three o’clock in the afternoon .
Christians also differ slightly in what they practice and observe during this observance. For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Good Friday is a holy day of fasting and penance , so they do not celebrate any Masses on this day. The Anglican Church, however, does say it’s a day for celebration of Communion.
In addition to different beliefs about how exactly Christ died during Good Friday, Christians also disagree slightly on whether or not the cross should be taken down from its place of honor at their churches from midnight on Holy Thursday until noon on Easter Sunday . Some denominations believe this draws attention away from the true reason for celebrating–that Christ was victorious over death when he rose again three days after his crucifixion; others think that taking down the cross allows them to focus instead on Jesus’ sufferings and death during Good Friday.
More About the Seven Last Words of Christ…
On his last night on earth, Jesus spoke seven times before his death–to God, to Mary Magdalene , to the chief priests, to Pontius Pilate, to two robbers crucified at his side, and finally one more time to God . Each speech revealed something specific about what he was experiencing. For example, when he asked for forgiveness for those who were putting him through every kind of suffering (Luke 23:34), it showed that even though they were doing something horrible, he didn’t want them punished. His last words in John’s Gospel (John 19:30) show how powerful he felt even as he was dying: “It is finished.”
The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross:
Here are some of Jesus’ last words as recorded in the four Gospels:
Prayers for those crucifying him. In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 23:34), Jesus says to God , “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” In John’s Gospel (John 17:15-16), he prays to God, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one . They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to it.”
Close with a promise. When he was dying on the cross , Jesus told his disciples : “I am thirsty .” They brought him sour wine on a sponge , but he refused it. Then he said, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). When Jesus died, the temple curtain that covered the entrance to the most holy place in God’s house was torn in two from top to bottom . This showed everyone–both those with him and those against him–that they could now go directly to God through Jesus .
A plea for mercy. Three times Jesus cried out , “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), as if he were experiencing pain beyond what anyone else ever had–and yet still saying at the same time that this was not God’s will.
A cry of triumph. When he was near death, Jesus cried out, “I am thirsty.” Then one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear , and blood and water flowed out (John 19:28-30). This shows that Jesus’ final struggle was over–and God had once again given him something to drink! It also meant that he really did die on the cross.
Jesus forgives one of his tormentors. One of the two robbers who were crucified at Jesus’ side kept insulting him, but the other man told him to stop because he believed in Jesus . The bad robber kept it up until Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Jesus’ prayer for those who mistreat him. Jesus prayed three times to God that those who were putting him through such horrible suffering would be forgiven (Luke 23:34), even though they didn’t realize what they were doing and it wasn’t their fault .
What About Good Friday?
Good Friday , which is the day of the week on which Christians celebrate Christ’s crucifixion , got its name in medieval England, where people said it was good because God had punished sin that day . It also makes sense that the word “good” later got put into another holiday, Easter Sunday , which is all about how Jesus rose from the dead !