Dr. Nathaniel Fabula gives us refreshing and wonderful reflections on Good Friday. You are invited and encouraged to read the whole text as you celebrate the Resurrection Weekend.
Good Friday is the day when millions of Christians all over the world commemorates the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
I presume that many have not asked the question of why the day is called Good Friday.
Good Friday traditions
In our country, there are many practices of so-called devotees in many places that could not be done this time due to COVID 19 pandemic. COVID-19 has changed our lives in a way we could never have imagined—and it affects men and women in different ways.
In normal times, those practices are done by fanatics who carry a large wooden cross and crown of thorns, some allowed themselves to be literally crucified.
Flagellants, inflict injuries in their bodies while walking half-naked under the heat of the sun, and many other weird practices. They fashioned their own via Dolorosa, way of the cross or way of suffering.
Evidently, this is a misunderstanding of the words of Jesus when he said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Whatever are the true motivations of those who are personally involved may not be obvious, but it is apparent that what they are doing become a tourist attraction.
I also could not understand why the sightseers enjoy watching people who willingly submit to suffering.
Is this a sort of sadistic mental disorder which derives pleasure when someone suffers?
What these people are doing during Good Friday are also tolerated with tacit approval by some church and community leaders. They too may have their own agenda.
Why “Good” Friday?
As to the question why the day is called Good Friday.
Obviously, it was such “a dark and bleak event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus”.
The Son of God was flogged, ordered to carry the cross, crucified and put him to death and seemingly making it difficult to perceive what is “good” about the day.
Crucifixion was one of the most agonizing ways of execution to inflict on its victim a slow, painful death that could last for a number of days.
The word “excruciating” means “out of crucifying.” The horrific nature of dying on a cross served not only as a penalty for criminals but also serves as a deterrent for future criminals.
Then why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or “Black Friday” or something similar?
Some Christian traditions do take this approach. In Germany, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.”
Few theories were suggested about why Good Friday is called Good Friday.
Some believe that it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.”
It is also suggested that “good” used to mean “holy” thus, the day is sometimes called Holy Friday.
One theory seems to be supported by linguists and by historical evidence. This comes because of the belief of Christians that there is something very good about the day.
It marks the anniversary of Jesus suffering and dying for our sins. “That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Resurrection, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations” (suggested in the Huffington Post).
A certain George said, “Christians believe that the sins of the whole world were poured out on Christ. It’s really a bad Friday, a horrible Friday. But when it is seen as leading to the Resurrection, it was indeed a Good Friday.”
Probably, this logic has helped Christians to consider it Good Friday.
In a sense, the apostle Paul seemed to support it when he considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The seven last words of Jesus on the cross
In this reflection, the Seven Last Words of Jesus will not be dealt with in many words.
I am sure many of you have heard every year the expositions done by many speakers.
Many years ago, there used to be 7 speakers making the day a “Long Friday” because of long messages.
It was observed that some church members do not like a long sermon for they rather prefer to listen to a short sermon or sermonette similar to that delivered for children.
Jokingly, somebody commented that as a result, they become “Christianettes” or little Christians who never grow in their faith.
Later, many churches practice having 3 or even one speakers during the Good Friday worship service.
Let me just point out in one sentence the description as many analyzed every saying of Jesus while hanging on the cross.
So let us look at these moving words from the Bible, the last words which Jesus spoke before he died.
- First, there was the word of divine forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” — Luke 23:34
- Second, Jesus spoke the word of eternal assurance: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” — Luke 23:43
- Third, He spoke the word of divine care: He said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” — John 19:26-27
- Fourth, He uttered the word of a feeling of abandonment as he suffered for humankind: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” — which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — Mark 15:34
- Fifth, truly human as he was, he uttered the word of physical need: “I am thirsty.” — John 19:28
- Sixth, The glorious pronouncement of victory–mission accomplished: Jesus said, “It is finished”. — John 19:30
- Seventh, Finally Jesus’ word of divine committal: Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” — Luke 23:46
Other events of the crucifixion
There were accompanying happenings during the crucifixion.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two, the curtain which hid the Holy of Holies, the place believed to be the place of the very presence of God, the place where no man was allowed to enter except the High Priest, and only once a year, during the Day of Atonement.
The message here is that the way to God’s presence was opened to all, not just to one or few persons.
The centurion in charge of the crucifixion saw what happened that led him to praise God saying, “Surely this was a righteous man.”
And all the people who witnessed and saw what took place beat their breasts and went away.
The centurion and the crowd were deeply moved as Jesus died. It broke the hard hearts of men.
Jesus himself said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).
The magnet of the cross had begun its works, even as he breathed his last.
Jesus owns us for He bought us with His own precious life’s blood.
May we be devoted to Him, our Shepherd Who laid down His life for us.
Let us then fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
The Saviour and our Salvation, embracing the significance of Good Friday
The words of the dying person are usually and significantly remembered.
Surely, when Jesus spoke words from the cross, that most important event, he must have known that they would have been remembered as significant words as we believe them.
From the last sayings, we derive insights on the mission of the Son of God.
Yes, Jesus Christ died on the cross because God loved us and sacrificed His Son to die on our behalf.
We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin.
The work of salvation was finished on the cross and all we can do is to receive it as God’s grace.
Unlike some misguided people who do theatrical things during Good Friday, thinking that their works would be credited to their accounts to merit salvation, we believe what the Word of God says. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
All our good works cannot merit our salvation.
Eternal life is a gift of God through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Faith in God results to salvation made possible through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
However, when we are saved, we show it through our works because faith without works is dead and useless.
Faith and actions are working together (James 2:17, 20, 22).
Moreover, salvation is here and now and not a futuristic experience when one is translated from earthly life to the other side.
Our Lord himself declared that “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).
Our faith in God is also expressed through love.
We have passed from death to life if we love our brothers and anyone who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14).
Any other teachings different from this are not biblically right.
Indeed, Good Friday is Good Friday if we understood and embraced its significance.
A Good Friday prayer
Our eternal and loving God, we come to you with thanksgiving for what you have done for us.
It was concretely manifested during that Good Friday when Your Son was crucified.
Grant that we really get hold and understood the message and meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Father, thank you for the gift of eternal life through Him.
Lord, due to COVID 19, we were hindered to gather as your children in order to worship you as a corporate body, but individually, we humbly praise and worship you not only today but all the days of our lives.
We, your children are united in our petitions regarding the virus that unceasingly causes great disaster in our lives as nations and as individuals.
Have mercy upon us O Lord. We pray for protection, healing, provisions of the needs of your people.
We continue to pray for the sick, people under investigation and under monitoring. frontliners, leaders, individuals, families and everyone affected by the pandemic.
We believe that if you are with us, no one can be against us. Strengthen our faith and help us our heavenly Father to be worthy as your children.
All these things we bring to your throne of grace in the matchless name of Jesus Christ who gave His life in order for us to live. Amen.
BACKGROUND IMAGE CREDIT: “Calvary” by Susan Butler