Happy Good Friday just doesn’t work. I want to start an ad campaign to change the name, like Coon cheese is now Cheer Cheese. I would like to start my own Ad campaign to change the name from Good Friday. Christianity is the only faith that celebrates the death of its founder—That is weird! It's like saying it was a good execution!
It's been called Good Friday since the 13th century, that day when Jesus life was cut short at only 33 yrs. Mohammed the father of Islam lived to 63 years, Confucius lived to 72 years, Budda lived to 80 years and Moses lived to 120 years. These are good innings but Jesus barely made his mid-thirties, he was cut short in the prime of his life. When others were paying the mortgage and having kids Jesus is snuffed out as a 30 something.
So who is going to back me? Let's change the name of Good Friday, there seems nothing good about Good Friday. Jesus had already said that no one is good except God alone. This first good Friday proves the point why we humans are not so good. Humans first inclination when he met God face to face was to kill him.
There are 3 explicit motives for why people wanted to kill Jesus and none were good. Judas out of greed handed Jesus over to the Priests for loose change (Matt 26:14-16). The Priests out of envy handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman Governor (Matt 27:18). Pilate out of fear handed Jesus over to the soldiers who then crucified him (Matt 27:26). Greed, Fear and Envy. Not a great moment in humanity.
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self interest (envy) that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. ~Mark 15:9-10 (NIV)
When given a choice between setting a terrorist or Jesus free they choose the Terrorist Barabbas, out of Envy, that pain is caused by the success of others. From the beginning the religious leaders try to kill Jesus. They couldn’t stand Jesus success. As one person put it, “Whenever a friend of mine succeeds a little part of me dies inside”
Even when Jesus was hung on a cross they couldn’t help themselves but put the boot in:
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! ~Mark 15:31 (NIV)
If Jesus success caused them pain, now Jesus crucifixion will cause them much pleasure. The German word for envy is Schadenfreude, malicious joy. You see it at funniest home videos or when Soldiers are shaming new recruits. Nothing compared to what the soldiers did to Jesus
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. ~Mark 15:16-20 (NIV)
The greater the shame the greater the pain the greater the joy.
If the internet was around it would have been an instant YouTube hit, add to that pain the way one of 12 betrayed him, one of 12 denied him and the rest abandoned him. And all Jesus did was go around doing good.
Friends there is a good case for calling it Black Friday, the thorns and nails, the spitting and scorn, the beltings and the bashing, the whips with leather straps tipped with pieces of bone which would claw into the back of Jesus and then rip of his flesh. Then the spear that GUTS Jesus like a fish.
U2 wrote a song, 'Sunday bloody Sunday', about the violence in the Irish war of independence so why not call it at least 'Friday Bloody Friday'?
So why has the church so stubbornly called it Good Day? For 3 good reason
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon ~Mark 15:33 (NIV)
The average eclipse lasts for 7.5 minutes, here for 3 long hours, from noon to 3pm, as Jesus hung on that cross, total darkness covered the land, just as God said it would happen.
The Prophet Amos predicted it 750 years before.
“In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight…I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. ~Amos 8:9,10b (NIV)
This darkness was just one of the 300 prophecies being fulfilled in Jesus life, death and resurrection. As someone put it, God switched the light off because he could not bear to see what we
humans did to his one and only Son whom he loved. God was mourning his only son and yet Darkness is also code for God's judgment.
Jesus often described Hell as the place of utter darkness, not a party in sight. I remember visiting the Kelly Caves in Kangaroo
Island and when the guide switched the light off in the cave it was so dark that I could not see my hands let alone anybody else. Even though my family were right next to me, they could have been billion miles away. So alone…
This is what Jesus said Hell is like, lost in total darkness, Christ at the cross tasting the horror of hell for us. It was Good Friday because, get this, judgment for our sins is now falling on Jesus instead. Like a lightning rod Gods anger was deflected away
from us and onto him. So maybe good Friday isn't such a bad name after all.
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). ~Mark 15:34 (NIV)
Are these doubts? Did Jesus have 2nd thoughts? No! Jesus is quoting a prophecy by King David in Psalm 22 - written1000 years before. A prophecy predicting crucifixion before crucifixion was invented. The opening of that psalm is, My God, My God why have you forsaken me. So we ask: did he?
Why did God the Father abandon God the Son. Jesus was not imaging it. The only relationship that never had a beginning now comes to an abrupt halt.
God the Father who said at Jesus baptism “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” Is now saying nothing, now doing nothing. So why doesn’t God step in? Why doesn’t Jesus leap off the cross? He could have at any time, the answer is found earlier in Mark
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Mark 10:45 (NIV)
Jesus gave his life to pay a price to set us free. Many of us are carrying a debt, some mortgages, some credit cards and some mobile phones. Human sin incurs a debt to God, we owed a debt that we would take eternity to pay off, in that place that Jesus calls utter darkness. Here, Jesus is paying our debt in full. My sentence in hell, your sentence of hell is paid in full by
Jesus as he hangs in my place. That is why its good Friday and if we were going to change the name, it should be Great Friday.
In fact some Church traditions call it great Friday. If the question is ‘My God My God why have you abandoned me’
The answer is for you…God abandoned his Son so that he wont have to abandon you. Jesus choose to be forsaken so that you don’t have to be. This is as personal as it gets…
Vicky Hutchinson was a single parent with 2 young boys and a member of our church. She developed a tumor in her uterus about the size of a tennis ball. For two years she had a barrage of operations and endured a lot of pain, she once said to my wife Sandy ‘Of all the prayers I've prayed during the last 2 years I'm so glad there is one prayer I will never have to pray
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ She knew that someone had to pay for her sin and that someone was Jesus.
Vicky trusted that Jesus had tasted hell at the cross in her place, she knew, she had confidence, as she faced her death.
That is why when we buried her it was a sad day but a good funeral. She trusted in Jesus who died on Good Friday.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ~Mark 15:37-38 (NIV)
The curtain in the temple that had separated God from his people, this curtain that reminded God's people that we all were unfit to stand in His presence. Notice it was torn from top to bottom, God did it. At the exact time that Jesus dies and sins are paid for God says now and only now can you come to me. Now and only now are your sins paid for. Now and only now through my Son is your debt paid. Heavens gates are open wide to receive any who would come. Come one and come all but you must come through Jesus alone.
I go on to Facebook about 2 times a year, I discover I have a list who wanted to be my friends and I realise that you can reject someone in two ways, you can say NO, get lost or you can just ignore the invite.
Jesus is God's son who died in your place and he is calling for you, to let him serve you, to let him die for you, to let him rule over you, to let him set you free. That is faith, trust him that he tasted hell for you so that you need never have to say ‘God why have you forsaken me’ Rather you will hear ‘Welcome home’.