Why is it called “GOOD Friday”? At a glance it would seem that we might call this day anything but “GOOD.” As Jesus of Nazareth sized-up this day, He described it as an episode of unparalleled offense, suffering, and injustice (Mark 12:1-11). Jesus compares the events of Good Friday to a man who planted a vineyard, and appointed stewards to work it. One day the vineyard creator sends his son to collect grapes, and the stewards seize, beat, shame, and kill him.
This does not sound GOOD.
This is appalling and horrific. Such shameful conduct is scorn-worthy. To call it GOOD Friday is either deceitful, or deeply mysterious.
Imagine you have seven children (ages 17, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 1). Your six oldest kids go on a bike ride one afternoon, and the five oldest sell the six year old to slave traffickers. Prior to coming home, the five oldest kids kill the neighbor’s cat and smear some of its blood on your six year old’s hoodie; and they tell you that your second youngest child was attacked and killed by a Rottweiler, and the dog dragged the body into the woods. You call the police and search parties walk the woods for a week, but you never find your child. You’re devastated. Eighteen years go by, and your family has fallen on hard times. Your family applies for help from a local food bank, and you come to discover that your long lost child (now 24 years old) is the manager of the food bank! After you get over the shock of coming to find that your child is alive and well, you make an appointment with a family counselor …clearly your crew has some deep-seated issues to work through. During the counseling session, your traumatized 24 year old turns to their siblings and says, “What you meant for evil against me, God meant for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And thus the victim comforted their abusers and spoke kindly to them.
When we consider the events of GOOD FRIDAY, we are first brought to a place of darkness. We find ourselves face to face with God in the flesh, perfect & blameless; yet betrayed, beaten, bloody, and hanging on a cross. It should cause us to MOURN not only because it’s an awful and gruesome event, but because we ourselves are implicated in the injustice and wickedness of it. WE’RE ALL STEWARDS, AND WE’VE ALL REJECTED GOD …we are the evil children who sold their sibling into slavery. Is there any hope for people like us? Do we not deserve the full wrath of God? …the parable of the vineyard maker reveals to us the reality of God’s judgment on the wicked stewards! This is our lot, this is our identity! We are rebels, we are wretched; we are objects of God’s wrath!!! Is this not the most hopeless, helpless, lamentable, and devastating reality we could possibly find ourselves in!?
So WHY do we call it GOOD Friday!? Are we out of our minds? Are we just trying to desensitize ourselves? Are we sugar-coating an awful reality in order cope?
It is into this very dark and dreadful context that God decidedly orchestrates His plan to redeem us. In Mark 12:10-11 Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22-23 saying, “Haven’t you read this Scripture: The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD HAS DONE THIS …and it is MARVELOUS in our eyes!”
At just the right time, as you’re sinking into the hopeless abyss of your sin, and as the devastating reality of the Cup of God’s wrath and judgment loom over you, Jesus comes and PURCHASES you with His priceless blood. He takes the Cup of God’s wrath and drinks it for you! (2 Corinthians 5:21)
On Good Friday, Jesus says, “You’re NOT allowed to wallow in hopelessness anymore …your identity is no longer determined by you, but rather you are who I say you are …and YOU ARE MINE!”
THE LORD HAS DONE THIS! And it is marvelous in our eyes!
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118