“Why’s it called Good Friday?”
Today is Good Friday but this is not going to be like any Good Friday that we’ve ever experienced before. One of the highlights of our church's calendar every year is our Easter cantata that is held in conjecture with six or seven other churches in our area on Friday evening at 7:30. Due to circumstances beyond our control, this will not be happening this year at New Durham Chapel, at least not on Good Friday. Some time ago I was asked an interesting question, “Why do we call it Good Friday?” This is an important question to consider. Back in the Old Testament in Exodus 12 the Israelite nation was given the memorial of the Passover feast. Ever since the time of Moses, Israel and Jewish people have celebrated the Passover. Remember on the Passover evening each family needed to kill the Passover lamb and apply the blood to the doorpost so that the death angel would “Passover” that family. On the day that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified many in the nation were preparing to celebrate the Passover feast. In fact, at 3 PM on that particular day as Jesus died on the cross many Israelites were sacrificing their own Passover lamb at the exact time Jesus was dying. This is, in fact, a sacred memorial and has been going on for some 3500 years. Passover was even celebrated during the darkest days of the Holocaust by people who were in the ghettos that had been set up by the Nazis and even in the death camps.
For the person who recognizes the Lord Jesus Christ as their Passover Lamb and has applied the blood of the Lamb to their own life to take away their sins, Jesus’ death is a very sacred occasion. It represents God accepting in totality the cost of all of our sins through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, while the events involving the death of the Lord Jesus Christ were not a good thing, the consequence of that death as the payment for our sins are indeed very precious. We can say that this black Friday offers eternal savings, because Jesus Christ paid the price so that every one of us could have eternal life. But His sacrifice is only effective for those that have applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to the doorpost of their lives. It only saves those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ and in nothing else. So, while we should celebrate Good Friday with a sense of gratitude, we should also celebrate it with a sense of sadness and sorrow knowing that it was for our sins that Jesus Christ suffered and died.
The clearest explanation of Jesus’ suffering and death was written by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before the time of Jesus. We read in the 53rd chapter of his prophecy where he states, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”, (Isa.53:3-6 NIV). In the Old Testament animals were sacrificed as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ would pay for our sins. The Servant in this passage is of a pure heart and suffers and dies so that you and I can live. God has made a way for us into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ. We’re reminded in the New Testament why it’s Good Friday when Paul writes, “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”, (Rom.5:8 NIV). It is in fact Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross that makes it possible for us to have eternal life. That indeed makes it a very Good Friday.
So, I hope this weekend you will some take time to meditate and reflect on the significance of Good Friday. Then I hope you will join us at 11:00 for our online streaming of service, “Fear Not” @ newdurhamchapel.org as we share the great news that God did not leave His Son in the tomb, but raised Him from the dead so that we can know for certain that Jesus is who he claimed to be and that this life is not all there is. We look forward to you joining us for our “Easter Cantata” later this year when we gather to celebrate the great hope that we have because of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo