So what is “Good Friday,” and why do people call it “good”?
According to the Oxford dictionary, the word “good” is used to indicate “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” So this day marks an event that is special to Christians. There may be other reasons for the term, but its origin is uncertain.
And what makes it special?
It is the day set aside to remember when the Lord Jesus was crucified.
And why would this day be special? Wasn’t it horrible?
Certainly it was horrible– the Son of God, hanging upon a cross, dying an agonizing death at the hands of His own creation! There is nothing wonderful about that. What is special is not simply a day, nor that a man was crucified, but that through the death of this Savior a means of Redemption was brought to mankind (that’s you and me).
Redemption? What is that?
To answer this question we should really first consider another special day–a day celebrated by the Jewish people. In fact, they were observing this day at the very time the Lord Jesus was being crucified. It is called the Passover. The Passover was a special day to the Jews, because it marked the day when they were delivered from bondage and slavery in Egypt long ago. At that time, God instructed them to kill a lamb and put the blood of that lamb around the door posts of their houses. The lamb died in the place of the firstborn within that house, and shielded him from the judgment God brought because of sin. God passed-over and guarded the houses where there was blood, and didn’t bring judgment upon the inhabitants. In short, the lamb’s blood–its life–was the price that had to be paid because of sin. This is the idea of Redemption: it involves a purchase.
But there is more. God not only saved His people from death, but He also delivered them from the slavery they were experiencing in Egypt. He brought them out of Egypt and into a new land of great blessing and abundance. So Redemption (in this aspect) involves a purchase out of slavery, and a setting free.
Yet there is more. God not only saved them from death, brought them out of Egypt, and brought them into a new land, but He also made them into a nation: Israel. He made them His own people. Redemption made it possible for God to call them His own special people. (See Exodus 6:3-8, 19:4-5)
So Redemption in the Bible (in this aspect) involves a price (or ransom) that is paid to bring deliverance from bondage, resulting in blessing.
So how does the Redemption of Israel relate to Good Friday?
Well, just as Israel needed to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, mankind needs to be delivered from the bondage of sin. The only way God could righteously deliver us from the penalty that our sins deserved (eternal separation from God), was for another to die in our place. Another person had to purchase our freedom. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who could do it–He is perfect. He is divine. But He had to become a man to do it. And He had to go to a place called Calvary to fulfill it. He was God’s Lamb for our Redemption, and when He hung on that cross, He was enduring the anger that a holy God poured out on Him as our substitute– taking the place of the sinner. “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7 ESV). When we accept what God says, that this all was “for me–for my sin!” receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, we become His own–purchased and redeemed by His blood. No longer are we enslaved to sin, but God puts a new heart within, and His Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. He gives us a new song, a new life, a new destiny. The sinful world, typified by Egypt, is now behind us, and heaven’s joys are before us. We are God’s special people, and Christ’s purchased bride. Israel was under a covenant of works, but Christians are freed from the bondage of the law and brought into fellowship with God by grace. How much transpires in that moment of faith!
So now do you understand why that day is special to Christians? But more importantly, is the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus, special to you?