Why “Good” Friday?

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and was buried on the Friday preceding his resurrection, the original Easter. Why is a day that marks Jesus’ horrible suffering and death on a cross called “good”?

Actually, the term ‘good’ is unique to the English language. According to Ken Collins, in Germany this day is called Karfreitag. “The Kar part is an obsolete word, the ancestor of the English word ‘care’ in the sense of cares and woes, and it meant mourning. So in German, it is Mourning Friday. And that is what the disciples did on that day—they mourned as they thought all was lost.”

The origin of the name Good Friday, according to some scholars, comes from the Old English synonym for good, which is “holy.” Others argue the word good is a corruption of the word “God,” in the same way that “Good Bye” comes from the phrase “God be with ye.”

You may also have wondered about the three days and three nights between Good Friday and Easter. There aren’t three days and three nights between Friday and Easter Sunday, so how is this explained? The short answer is that saying is idiomatic or an expression. Joe Crews, author of Three Days and Three Nights puts it this way; “the unreasonable insistence upon the use of twentieth century English idioms of speech to interpret first century Greek or Hebrew has led to some extreme views indeed.”

Ken Collins notes that similar expressions occur elsewhere in scripture. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale. But he was swallowed by the fish one day and spit out on the third day (Jonah 1:17—2:10). Similarly, in Esther 4:16—5:1, there is a fast for ‘three days and three nights’ that begins on the first day and ends on the third day. In order for there to be three days there could only be two nights separating them.

Days and nights aside, the point we must not miss is why today’s Christians call this day “good.” On the Friday of his death, Jesus more powerfully than any other day of his earthly life revealed the “Good News” or Gospel in him. Through his death Jesus perfectly and completely satisfied God’s judgment on sin. Oswald Chambers say is this way: “There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross — He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God.” On this day God, through his son Jesus Christ, showed the full extent of his love for you and me.

Jesus was buried on Friday, the day of his death, and rose three days later from the dead, breaking forever the bondage of sin over mankind. Chambers says “The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.”

In his Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition (sinful man),
entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity
in order to set it right once and for all…

Romans 8:3 (MSG)

Good Friday and Happy Easter.