The One Good Thing About “Good Friday”

Tomorrow Christians around the world will celebrate Good Friday, the day in which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.

thorns and nails
Photo by Billy Alexander, http://emboldenzine.com/

Isn’t it weird that we would call that day “good”? How can the day commemorating the betrayal, scourging and crucifixion of Jesus be considered good? History tells us that crucifixion was one of the most horrific methods of execution invented by mankind. Not only does the prisoner being crucified have to deal with the extreme pain of large metal spikes going through his wrists and feet, but he also dies slowly due to suffocation. The position of his body, with his arms outstretched, causes the person to have difficulty in breathing. Therefore he must force himself up on his pierced feet and hands to gulp in air, which results in searing pain. Not to mention that sometimes it takes days for the prisoner to die. Including dehydration, blistering temperatures, and scavenging birds pecking at his flesh and the horror story is complete. And we call it “Good Friday”? We should probably rename it “Horrific Friday”!

Wherever I look, there is brokenness, pain and sorrow all around us. Just today, my wife and I had lunch together and she shared what she read in the newspaper about a court case where four adult men raped a 14-year-old girl. There is also the international scene happening right now where Russia is taunting the West by annexing different parts of Ukraine. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Man is still as wicked as ever and it seems as if the crucifixion was nothing more but an extension of this. Hatred reigns, justice falters, and evil advances.

This despair appears in an old Christmas hymn, which has been made popular again by the Christian music group, Casting Crowns. The hymn is titled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” It was written during the US Civil War and has the following stanza:

“And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’”[1]

How can such evil be defeated?

In the movie “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s classic novel of the same name), King Theoden was trapped in his own fortress of Fort Eorlingas at Helm’s Deep. The Uruk-hai – a vile, almost demonic looking army – have broken into the fort and killed most of the warriors defending it. They are now using a battering ram trying to break through the inner door and finish off the survivors.

In despair, King Theoden asks, “So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?”

Aragorn, the future king of Gondor replies, “Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.”[2]

This is what Jesus did! He went out and met evil, hatred and death head on, to set free those who are captive by its wicked clutches. He used HIS OWN LIFE to defeat the enemy! The apostle Paul says that, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (Romans 5:6-9 NLT).

This is why the day is called “Good Friday”! What was a horrendous act by a vile humanity was actually the means of defeating evil and saving humanity. Life may indeed be continually broken; but this brokenness is winding down and the fulfillment of truth and righteousness is almost upon us. You see, the answer is not in a thing, or philosophy, or education; the answer is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the final validation that the Friday is good, is Easter Sunday: “The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:3-4 NLT).

It was for this very reason why the Christmas hymn previous mentioned ends with the following stanza:

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’”[3]

Ravi Zacharias, a well-known Christian apologist, was invited to the UN for a breakfast meeting to discuss the following topic: Navigating with Absolutes in a Relativistic World. He agreed to speak on one condition: that he had a chance to share about Jesus. They gave him permission to do so at the end of the discussion. On that morning, before many representatives of the world, he spoke of the four areas where the world searches for absolutes: evil, justice, love and forgiveness. Near the end, Ravi then asked the audience if they knew where these four issues converged. He declared that it was on a hill called Calvary two thousand years ago where the Son of God died on a cruel cross.[4]

If you take the time tomorrow to consider what “Good Friday” represents, remember to thank Jesus for taking something that is both ugly and barbaric, and transforming it into something that is truly good for all mankind!

 

[1] Henry W. Longfellow, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/h/iheardtb.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

[2] Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film (based on novel by J.R.R. Tolkein). http://www.tk421.net/lotr/film/ttt/29.html (accessed April 17, 2014).

[3] Longfellow, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

[4] Ravi Zacharias, “Meeting at the U.N.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3sHzXk1Q7Y (accessed April 17, 2014).