When I was growing up, I remember the break through agreements in Northern Ireland hitting the news; the Good Friday agreement, new hope for the region. I could understand why that Friday was good. But what I didn’t understand is why Christians called the Friday before Easter – the Friday on which Jesus was tried before a corrupt court, condemned to death, beaten, forced to carry a rough Roman cross through the streets of Jerusalem and then crucified; literally nailed to that wooden cross and left hanging there until he died – good? Surely it should be called by another name. Terrible Friday or Sad Friday. We know that Easter is happy – the celebration of Jesus coming back to life, but why Good Friday? How can it possibly be good?
Simply, Good Friday is called Good Friday because the Bible tells us that in fact Jesus’ death was a good thing! It may seem sad; in Jesus’ followers and his family were distraught at the time, but Jesus dying is actually a great thing. You see, Jesus didn’t die by accident. He wasn’t a good guy that got on the wrong side of the leaders and died a tragic death. Jesus was God’s son – God himself in human form. His death was no accident but it was the crowning moment in God’s plan to save human beings from their biggest problem – sin.
All humans are marred and tainted by sin. It is our biggest problem because it separates us from God. Yet on Good Friday 2000 years ago, Jesus climbed a hill outside Jerusalem and died. That death, says the Bible, is the punishment we all deserve for our sin. Yet Jesus died in our place! Instead of facing punishment from God for our sin, Jesus dies in our place and we can be forgiven by God. Instead of fear, we can have hope.
Of course, if Jesus had stayed dead, Good Friday would still be a day to mourn. But, three days after he died, Jesus rose – he came alive again. Death could not hold him – Jesus was completely innocent, the only human being who never sinned. His resurrection proves that there is no more punishment left to face for those that trust he died in their place.
The Good Friday agreement was remarkable. Despite set backs, it has brought relative peace to a region previously torn by conflict. Yet the events of the first Good Friday truly are great. Jesus died the death we all deserve so that anyone, yes anyone, could ask God to forgive them for their sins and he would.
Why not come and find out more at Beechwood Chapel on Sundays. You’re always welcome no matter who you are, and we will explain a bit more of this good news to you.