There’s always a sense of excitement and anticipation as we approach Easter Sunday. However before we get to Sunday, we pause to remember the events that happened on that Friday nearly 2000 years ago. Many of us may feel confused about how to approach Good Friday in light of the excitement surrounding Easter Sunday. What exactly is Good Friday and what makes it all that “good” anyway?
As we make the journey toward Easter, this time of year gives us a unique opportunity to connect with the most important even in human history: the death, burial, and ultimately the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today is Good Friday—the Holy Day we commemorate Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion on the cross. The word crucifixion comes from the Latin word ‘crucifixio’ which literally means “fixed to a cross.” It was one of the most horrifically painful and undignified means of punishment and was one of the most dreaded forms of execution in the ancient world.
In the early morning hours we know that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, and taken to Caiaphas the high priest, where the religious leaders were gathered seeking to find false testimony against Him. Jesus was condemned and then delivered over to Pilate to stand trial and ultimately sentenced to death.
They spit on Him, scourged Him, mocked Him by jamming a crown of thorns into His head, and beat Him beyond recognition. Around 8 am, Jesus stumbled up the hill to Calvary, carrying His cross with the help of Simon of Cyrene. The Bible says it was the “third hour” (9 am) when Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to the wood and He was put on the cross to be crucified. He remained alive on the cross in agony for a total of six hours.
So the questions become: Why the inhuman treatment? Why did they have to nail His hands and feet to the Cross? Why did they pierce His side? Why did He have to shed his blood?
Let’s look for some clarification in the book of Isaiah—this is called the Messianic prophecy. In this passage we see the prophet Isaiah, prophetically speaking to what would happen through Jesus hundreds of years later.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
A “transgression” is a legal word meaning a violation of the law–the outward sins we commit everyday. Jesus was pierced on the cross to legally pay for every single thing we’ve done in violation of God’s truth.
He was also crushed (some versions say “bruised) for our iniquities– those internal emotional things on the inside of us that we carry. You and I now can be at peace with God…our internal health, wholeness and emotional strength comes from not what we’ve done or our own coping mechanisms but what He did on the cross.
At noon the Bible tells us the whole earth turns dark as Jesus breathes His last. He says, “It is finished”. This is the most important moment in human history. An earthquake occurs, the temple veil the separates us from the presence of God is ripped from top to bottom, and the centurion guard standing by Jesus states, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” We now have full access to God Himself.
Jesus hung on that cross, was pierced for every transgression and bruised for every single emotional wound and generational pattern, sin, anxiety and stress we have– just so we can be whole and have the peace that we need. He gave His life and made a real complete sacrificial offering as the Lamb of God to make payment for all of sin that has separated humanity from God.
Here is what makes what happened that day GOOD: Jesus didn’t stop at the Cross. Three days later He rose from the dead, went to heaven and is alive today! What’s more, the Bible says that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead can dwell in us. That’s a powerful truth for you and I today. Take some time this Good Friday to hear God speak to you through this incredible story of redemption and rescue.