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Jesus’ Crucifixion: Why is it Called Good Friday? Jesus’ Crucifixion: Why is it Called Good Friday?

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Jesus’ Crucifixion: Why is it Called Good Friday?

Written by: Karen Herndon

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Why is it called Good Friday? Understand and reflect on the significance of Jesus’ death and the real meaning of Good Friday.

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The Friday of the Holy Week, known as Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They often portray this day as a sorrowful day because of Jesus’ suffering and his death to bring salvation to the world. Jesus’ crucifixion is the fulfillment of God’s salvation plan for us from sins, death, and eternal separation from Him. At that time, vast darkness covered the sky after Jesus died on the cross. Have you ever wondered why a day of the Savior’s death is a good day? Why is it called Good Friday? Well, we have the answers you have been seeking. 

What is Good Friday? 

Crown of Thorns, Lenten, Holy Week, Good Friday

Image by Andrea Don from Pixabay

Good Friday is a day where Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is also known as Holy Friday, Black Friday, and Good Friday.  This significant day is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is a three day period beginning on the evening of Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday. It celebrates the passion, crucifixion, death, burial, and eventual resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospel. 

Many people in various countries observe this event before Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter Sunday. Local churches observe this wonderful day by having special Easter Sunday services in the morning or in the afternoon. It is to remember the day when Jesus was hung on the cross for our sins. Some countries observe Good Friday through the re-enactment of the procession of the cross. 

God’s Salvation Plan for Mankind 

Cross, Salvation, Jesus, Sacrifice

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Before we proceed with identifying the significance of Good Friday, we first need to understand God’s salvation plan for us. This plan includes how Jesus willingly sacrificed his life, by enduring the most torturous death to pay for our sins so that we may find eternal salvation (John 3:16). Jesus’ death is an important significant part of why this day is called Good Friday. 

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of the sinful nature of the world, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from God and the punishment for sin is death. No amount of hard work or good deeds can earn us God’s favor for our salvation cannot be earned or bought. Paying for the sins of the world requires great sacrifice. God showed His unconditional love by giving us his one and only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our salvation.

Jesus lived a sinless life; an example of how Christians should live. When Jesus rose again in three days, he proved that he is the son of God. Jesus offers the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins for those who repent and believe in him. Through him, we can receive our salvation and eternal life in heaven.

Jesus’ Death on the Cross

Jesus, Cross, Crucifixion

Image by Robert Allmann from Pixabay

Jesus’ death was part of God’s salvation plan for us. Crucifixion was the most shameful form of execution, and many feared it. The victim was forced to carry his cross through public,  along the longest route to where they were to be crucified. Jesus could have saved himself from facing this punishment. But he endured this suffering because of his love for us. He paid the price for our sins with his life on the cross.

Matthew 27:45-46

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When Jesus died, vast darkness covered the land for about three hours (Matthew 27:45-46). Nature testified to the weight of Jesus’ death. The darkness that day was both physical and spiritual. At three o’clock . on that day, Jesus cried out loud, asking why God had forsaken him. At this moment, Jesus felt extreme anguish as he paid for the sins of the world. Jesus suffered as he paid for our sins so that we will not experience separation from God. 

John 19:30 

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Matthew 27:51-53

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

The Real Meaning Behind Good Friday

Cross, Jesus Death, Crucifixion. Good Friday

Image by Germán R from Pixabay

So why is it called Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross? 

It is the fulfillment of God’s salvation plan for us. God orchestrated his unconditional love for us when he gave his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to us. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins and death. That Friday at three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus accomplished God’s plan. He willingly surrendered and endured all sufferings to help us restore our relationship with God. His death paid for all our sins in full on the cross. 

Other Etymology of the Word ‘Good Friday’

On Good Friday, we commemorate Jesus’ dark and brutal death on the cross for our salvation. Instead of calling this momentous day a ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Sorrowful Friday’, people ended up calling it ‘Good Friday’. It is good because this day reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice for the salvation of the world. His death on the cross leads us to have a direct and personal relationship with God again. But aside from the significant event on why is it called Good Friday, there are different theories where the word ‘Good Friday’ derived. 

Good Friday’s Origin from Catholic Encyclopedia

Good Friday is called Feria VI in Parasceve in the Roman Missal and hagia kai megali paraskevi (Holy and Great Friday) in the Greek Liturgy (Orthodox Catholic). Charfreitag or Sorrowful Friday is the term used for Good Friday in Germany. It is a day on which the church keeps the anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The Latins and Greeks signified Good Friday as the day on which the preparation was made. It came from the Latin word Parasceve, which is the Greek equivalent of paraskeuē. While the Greeks applied this word to every Friday, the Latins confined its application to one Friday. However, the writers later distinguished the Greek definitions of Pascha staurosimon and the Pascha anastasimon. The passage of death and the passage to life or the Resurrection. Similarly, the Latin definitions of the death and resurection of Jesus is  Pascha resurrectionis and Pascha crucifixionis.

Earlier times, Christians kept every Friday as a feast day. The origins from earlier explain why Easter is the Sunday par excellence, and why it’s called the Great of the Holy, or Good Friday. However, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there is no clear origin where the word ‘Good Friday’ originates. Some believe that the word ‘Good Friday’ is from ‘God’s Friday’ (Gottes Freitag), while others insist it’s from the German ‘Gute Freitag’, and not an English word. It also notes that Anglo-Saxons refer to Good Friday as Long Friday.

Good Means Holy

The word ‘good’ on Good Friday derived from the word ‘holy’. The word ‘holy’ traditionally means to dedicate or consecrate a day on or a season in which religious observance is held. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the good in the context of Good Friday refers to day or season observed as holy by the church. There are also names from other languages that derived from the same connotation of ‘holy’. It includes the terms Sacred Friday from Romance languages and Passion Friday in Russian. On this special day, churches observe the passion, sufferings, and the death of Jesus on the cross.

God’s Friday

A common folk etymology interpreted Good Friday as corruption for ‘God’s Day’. However, according to Anatoly Liberman, a professor who studies the origins of English words at the University of Minnesota, there seems to be no basis for this etymology. Aside from that, Ben Zimmer noted that the German term for Good Friday isn’t actually ‘Gottes Freitag’, but Karfreitag or Sorrowful Friday.

Good Friday is Good 

Even though Jesus Christ died on the cross, many Christians believe that there is something good about Good Friday. It is the anniversary of Jesus suffering and dying for our sins. But if that day didn’t happen, there would be no Resurrection day.

Commemorate Good Friday with a Renewed Faith

Jesus, Cross, Heaven

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Good Friday has a deep significance and relevance to all Christians. Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross is a dark and bleak event. But, without his death, he could not be resurrected to show the Glory of God. Instead of commemorating this day as a sorrowful day, we can celebrate this because God showcases his victory over sin and death. This momentous event shows God’s unconditional and unending love for us. He gave us his one and only son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. Jesus lived a sinless life, and obediently followed God’s salvation plan for us. As we look at the cross, let us be reminded not of Jesus’ death, but rather his love because he paid for our sins in full with his life. With his death, he restores our relationship with God.

As Good Friday comes, we can look forward to it with a renewed and strengthened faith. That day isn’t just about Jesus’ crucifixion and death. It is also the day where Jesus saved us from our sins. He took our sins on the cross with him so we can have our freedom. This is the reason why is it called Good Friday.

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