What is Good Friday?
Why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it is such a dark and bleak event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus?
For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation.
On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
But why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.”
In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.
In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved.
In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin. “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.
Good Friday marks the day when anger and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and yet so Good.
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours have long been an Easter tradition. They are made with yeast, currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
The most common recipe has yeast, milk, flour, butter, eggs, sugar, raisins, and a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, but some older recipes used saffron and mace. While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone.
The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolises and reminds Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on.
The buns mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun also have a certain meaning, as well as the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, the spices inside are said to remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus.”
A Good Friday Prayer
Christ Jesus you hung upon a cross and died for us, So that we might live for you.
Your body was broken and your blood shed, So that we might be healed and made whole.
You were faithful unto death ,So that we might be faithful unto life.
Your last command was that we might love one another, One family together from every tribe and nation, A new creation united through your sacrifice.
Redeemed by your blood, Healed by your love, United by your covenant of peace.
In your death may we find life. Amen