By: VU Faith & Community
Good Friday is an immensely important day on the Christian calendar. Beyond the calendar, though, it is a meaningful moment of love and sacrifice, which leads to hope, joy, and eternal acceptance. And there is a lot to it. Many details concerning this day are found in the first four books of the New Testament, and these details impact different Christians in various ways. I asked four friends what Good Friday means to them—below is how each person answered.
Good Friday has meant different things for me as I’ve grown up. In childhood, it meant sitting through the Stations of the Cross, which can be a genuinely great way to reflect on the events of this day in history. It can also be a genuinely boring way to spend your Friday night as a 5th grader who longs to walk around the mall, pretending she has money to spend on Dr. Pepper flavored Chap Stick.
In college, a friend of mine shared a bible verse with me that went like this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Huh? Thankfully my friend didn’t just stop there. She illustrated what this meant for me, and for the whole world. What we’ve earned, because of our selfish, impatient and careless ways, is death. But Christ bore this death for me. And through the death (and resurrection) of Christ I could accept a free gift from God: eternal life. Jesus didn’t earn death. He was perfectly selfless and patient and purposeful. For the first time, I got it.
Now, emotions are stirred for me on Good Friday.
And now, each year as Good Friday rolls around, I have a spoiler in my back pocket. I’ve read the “last chapter” of God’s book. And I know what’s in store for me. Hope, joy, peace, flourishing, righteousness, paradise.
But not without sacrifice.
The events of this day in history are difficult to swallow. When I think of Good Friday, I think of injustice… An innocent man being punished for a crime he did not commit. The apostle Paul puts it this way: God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us. Jesus had not sinned, a spotless lamb. When I examine my own ways, well, of course I have sinned. Yet here I am, thinking of the Good Friday story where the righteous (Jesus) takes place for the unrighteous (me) in order to bring me to God.
Because of the events that occurred on this day, Good Friday, I can be in a right relationship with God.
Hanging on the cross Jesus calls out “tetelestai” meaning it is finished. And Jesus knew it was and I can know it is today. Spoiler Alert: He defeats death. The prophecies fulfilled, God’s will be done, and the power of sin is finished.
And Paul writes: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (1 Peter 3:18) What an incredible gift! Jesus gives us his perfect, blameless life in exchange for our sinful one.
So, what does Good Friday mean to me? This day is a grim reminder to me that the consequence of sin truly is death. However, it’s also a reminder that we know what’s around the corner. That God has given us a free gift through the death and resurrection of his son: eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It was a sorrowful day, but it’s a good day, a Good Friday because through Jesus, we might become the righteousness of God and be reunited with him forever.
I was probably 18 or 19. We were watching the Passion of the Christ on a big screen projector in the sanctuary of the church I grew up in. Sitting on the hard pews with a scattering of fellow congregants; It was the first time that I felt the weight of my sin and the overwhelming goodness that Jesus is.
Let me explain more. Up to that point, I knew I was sinful. The bible says that we are all sinful (1 John 1:8) and to say otherwise is to deceive ourselves. And I knew that Jesus died for those sins. That the act on the cross didn’t ultimately make me un-sinful, but saved me from the consequences of my sin. I knew that. From a mind level. I had heard it all my life, but I didn’t really know what it meant for me.
On that night, watching that movie, I finally felt the weight of the act of Jesus in my heart. I felt like someone, heavy with guilt from years of treating others badly. I felt like someone who didn’t deserve a thing due to the way that I had acted. I ran away from love and caring and kindness and patience so that I could do my own thing. And then I felt the embrace of someone who never gave up and said you are still worth all the love in the world.
Isn’t that why those videos on Youtube make us cry? The videos where someone with means reaches out to someone without means and turns their life around. One person is living on the street, former addict, lost all contact with family, no money, no food, nothing to their name. They feel lost and abandoned and the only interaction they get is someone throwing a quarter at them from a cracked car window. Then someone else with money comes around, takes them to lunch and gets to know them. They eventually buy them a house, a car, get them connected to services, reach back out to their family and turn the trajectory of their life from something broken in to something whole. We all want to be the one who turns the life around, but in reality, we’re the broken one. Jesus is the one who makes us whole. It’s about as close to an example of the reality of Jesus in our life that we can get and yet it doesn’t even come close to encompassing all that he wants to bless us with.
Good Friday is about my brokenness. It’s about meditating on how unworthy of love and caring I am because of the things I have done. And then, and only then, it’s about truly basking in the warmth of a Savior who looks past all of that and says I am worth everything.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen – Ephesians 3:20
Good Friday feels so significant that it makes me nervous to write about what it means to me. I think because I want to give it the sincerity it deserves. The day feels so somber, so heavy. Good Friday reminds me that Jesus suffers with me, and he mourns with me. It’s a day to be reflective about his human life and really take in what that meant. It’s a day to also be reflective about my human life and my human sin.
Jesus knew that powerful, religious leaders were plotting against him, scheming to set all this in motion. Jesus felt the nails go into his flesh. He felt the lashes of the whip made with rocks and shards of glass go into his back. He heard the people calling him names and shouting for him to be crucified. Jesus living a human life and then suffering a human death was the ultimate act of service. He did so faithfully and obediently, but he knew it was going to be hard. Before he was arrested, he was praying. He said, “my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus wanted to serve the exact people causing him physical pain. Jesus knew that today we would continue with our acts of unkindness. Most not of the physical nature but all of the heart nature. We find ourselves not assuming positive intent, being envious of our friends, arguing with our spouses and if we are being honest, the list goes on and on. Yet, Jesus took in all the injustice around him and knew of all the injustice to come and wanted to serve us! You and me. It is overwhelming to think about. If people wrong us, our natural inclination is to want revenge, fight back. Jesus went through this day of suffering to serve all of humanity precisely because we can’t help but to wrong him. What an incredible act and statement of love.
We know what comes next with Easter Sunday, but the people present at the time did not. I cannot imagine how defeated his followers must have felt. My heart always hurts for them on this day and to imagine their anguish. Oh, it is enough to bring tears to my eyes if I pause in those feelings.
As Jesus was taking his last breath, he said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) I want to rest in those words. The world we live in right now is strange and uncertain, but Jesus suffers with us, today. He understands. I am praying with you and for you and wishing you all peace.
Most of us have heard somewhere along the line that Jesus died for sinners.
Some believe. Some shrug. Others disagree.
No matter which camp you are in, overall, folks agree that there was a historical figure, a man, Jesus who lived and died and had a remarkable impact on the world. Far and wide Jesus’ name is recognized and, sometimes, worshiped.
As I think about Good Friday this year, I’m reminded of my childhood and, more acutely, my teenage and college years. The image of Jesus hanging on a cross in churches, in homes, on rearview mirrors, and around necks all seemed to be saying something so gruesome and weird, simultaniously, something so beautiful and weird. For sure weird.
Want know what’s extra weird? That the image of an innocent man who willingly died a grisly death in the name of love – became cliché. In fact, it became boring. I was so unstruck by the image of Jesus’ death. I’d heard it talked about, preached on, sung about, and debated over, but none of it impressed me much. It seemed like a big ol’ waste of time.
Years later, in my mid-thirties, I took a second look at Jesus on the cross.
During that time I heard someone quote C.S. Lewis (of whom I was a big fan). It gave me pause:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
That made me think. And keep thinking.
After a lot of reading, listening, more thinking, wrestling, and, finally, crying out to an unseen God face down on my kitchen tile, I decided. Not perfectly, no, but the decision to have faith came.
To believe, imperfectly and mixed with doubt, that Jesus is who he claimed to be, embodied Son of God. The perfect sacrifice for all the evils of this world. The Lion and The Lamb. Human and God. The Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8).
This Good Friday, as I survey the cross, I find wonder again. I’ll let the cliché have a word this year and remind me Jesus is anything but. In His work I find freedom, grace bought for sinners by an Almighty God. He has done it and that means the door is open to me, to all.
Wouldst thou allow...cliche to have a word? To point, to say, to rule the day To hear what we have heard Let's herald then and toe the line, For Heaven's sake, there comes a time To leave behind what was before And knock like hell on open door
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. – Romans 8:34
 Romans 6:23
 2 Corinthians 5:20
 1 Peter 3:18