Updated: Apr 15
At first thought, "good" doesn't seem to be the way to describe this day. As we read and understand the events of Good Friday, we grasp the reason it can be labeled this way. So what happened on Good Friday for us to call it good?
The Events of Good Friday
Jesus is Questioned
Jesus was then brought to Caiaphas for more questioning. All of this was happening secretly in the middle of the night, which was illegal. The religious leaders had made up their minds to kill Jesus and took all measures to do so, even breaking their own laws.
Jesus does not respond to the first question asked, for His words had been twisted to use against Him. He was not speaking of the physical temple as they said, but rather His own body would be destroyed and raised in three days. To their second question, Jesus tells them He will return at the right hand of God and will judge all those who were accusing Him; the tables will turn.
Peter Denies Jesus
Peter had followed at a distance to the courtyard. He was confronted three times by various people saying he was a Galilean and a follower of Jesus. He denied each time knowing Jesus, the third time even cursing. Immediately the rooster crows, and Peter remembers Jesus's words, "before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." Mark 14:72. Luke even tells us in 22:61 that Jesus turns and looks at Peter after his third denial. Imagine Peter looking into Jesus's beaten face and black eyes and remembering what Jesus had told him at the last supper. Peter walks outside and breaks down, and weeps in agony.
Jesus is Taken to Pontius Pilate
Jesus is then led away to Pilate, the governor. Jews did not have the right to inflict capital punishment. For Jesus to be condemned to death, He would have to be sentenced by a Roman leader.
Pilate finds no wrongdoing by Jesus and sends Him to be tried by Herod. Herod was the ruler of Galilee and Perea and was part Jewish. He was in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover. Jesus was from Galilee, which would put Him under Herod's district. He had heard of Jesus's miracles and wanted to see one for himself, but Jesus remained silent. Herod alike finds Jesus not guilty and sends Him back to Pilate.
Pilate again finds no guilt in Jesus and asks Him the interesting question of "what is truth." The Jews were so intent on crucifying Jesus they chose to take a criminal and a murderer to be freed instead of Jesus.
Remember, just a few days prior, these same people shouted praises and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, yet now their praises have turned to condemnation. "Crucify him" they shouted. When Jesus didn't come through in the way they wanted, they traded palm branches for a crown of thorns.
Pilate had Jesus flogged, which meant being whipped with a three-pronged whip ripping flesh from His body. The soldiers mocked Jesus and brought Him out in a purple robe with the crown of thorns. Pilate again says he has no basis to put Jesus to death, but the pressure of an uprising mounted.
"When Pilate saw he was getting nowhere, but that instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" Mathew 27:24
Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. The soldiers continue to beat and mock Jesus. They spit on Him and take Him away to be crucified and make Him carry His own cross on His beaten and battered back.
Jesus is Crucified
Jesus was crucified along with two criminals, one on each of His sides. "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
When he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:32-43
Though the criminal lived a life of sin, he acknowledged his wrongdoings. He was able to have more faith than Jesus's followers did. Even in the midst of death, this criminal was able to look beyond his present suffering and knew Jesus could deliver him in His kingdom.
Jesus Breathes His Last
"It is finished," Jesus said as He took His last breath (John 19:30 NIV). He paid in full the price we all should have. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament ended so we can approach God in a personal relationship. The ground shook, and the temple split. Those who mocked Him began to realize who He really was.
Roman soldiers came around to speed up the death process, but Jesus had already passed. They pierced His side to make sure which blood and water flowed from.
His body was removed from the cross, for the Sabbath was approaching. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for permission to take Jesus's body for a proper burial. Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus's body with spices and pieces of linen. They laid Him to rest in Joseph's tomb and covered the entrance with a massive stone. Jesus's mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene witnessed where His body was laid to rest.
The "Good" in Good Friday
I think of the irony of this day. How can we call a day of the most excruciating torture of the most innocent man good? Simply because He is. His goodness and His sacrifice overpower the shadow of death. He took the ultimate torture for us so we can live free of it if we so choose. No one made Him, for He did have the power to stop them.
On this day, Jesus shows us that sometimes the most challenging moments in life produce the greatest reward. One that would not be possible or would have a lesser impact without the struggle first. I believe the only way we can understand the depth of God's love is through the extreme measures He took to touch our hearts.
Would a lesser sacrifice penetrate our souls in the same way as the thought of Jesus's beaten, battered, and bloody body hanging on that cross, struggling to take a breath as His raw back presses against the rough grain of the wood, all after being beaten and tortured all day, and forced to carry that very cross up a hill?
God knew nothing less would capture our hearts and take hold of our souls. It had to happen in this very way. Jesus finished the sin we started. He took the pain so we can lay ours at that very cross He chose to die on.