Photo: KnowInsiders
Photo: KnowInsiders

What Is Good Friday?

Good Friday, also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great Holy Friday and sometimes as Black Friday, is an important day for Christians.

Good Friday is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day Christians commemorate the passion, or suffering, and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Many Christians spend Good Friday in fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ.

Why Is Good Friday Called "Good?"

In Christianity, God is holy and humans are sinful; holiness is incompatible with sin, so humanity's sin separates us from God. The punishment for sin is eternal death. But human death and animal sacrifices are insufficient to atone for sin. Atonement requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice, offered in just the right way.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the one and only perfect God-man, that his death provided the perfect atoning sacrifice for sin and that through Jesus, our own sins can be forgiven. Consequently, when we accept Jesus Christ's payment for sin, he washes away our sin and restores our right standing with God; God's mercy and grace make salvation possible and we receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. These beliefs explain why the date of Jesus' crucifixion is considered a "Good" Friday.

Bible References to Good Friday

The biblical account of Jesus' death on the cross, or crucifixion, his burial, and his resurrection, or raising from the dead, can be found in the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:27-28:8; Mark 15:16-16:19; Luke 23:26-24:35; and John 19:16-20:30.

Why is Good Friday Celebrated?

Photo: The Conversation
Photo: The Conversation

The day has been commemorated for many centuries. “We have historical evidence from the 4th-century diary of a wealthy woman, Egeria, who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” says Morrill. “She wrote of her travels and included how Christians kept Palm Sunday and other rituals.” Eventually, as Christianity spread, the day was observed by other early churches in places such as Antioch, Rome, and Constantinople.

For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most pivotal day in the history of the world. On Good Friday, Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10).

D.A. Carson wrote, "It was not nails that held Jesus to that wretched cross; it was his unqualified resolution, out of love for his Father, to do his Father’s will—and it was his love for sinners like me." It is a good day because he traded places for you and for me. It is a good day because it was the day he conquered sin and death so that we will never be apart from God on this side of heaven or the other.

If you had asked his friends, family, and disciples on the day he died, they wouldn’t have said it was a good day when all hope seemed lost; evil and death seemed to have triumphed, but their responses would’ve been very different three days later because the forces of evil had been defeated, death had been destroyed, and from that point on, we all have a way to be free of sin and death.

Still, some have debated where the name of Good Friday originated. Justin Holcomb wrote, “Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sin.”

It’s called Good Friday because, by Jesus’ death, he became the final, complete sacrifice for our sins. We couldn’t have erased our sins. Our hands would have been forever stained with every single sin for a lifetime. But Jesus broke the bonds of death and sin!

How is Good Friday Celebrated?

Photo: Slate
Actors perform The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square on April 18, 2014, in London, England. Photo: Getty Images

Different ways of honoring the day have evolved, and many traditions and popular devotions still are practiced today.

In the Middle Ages, Francis of Assisi popularized a symbolic pilgrimage if you couldn’t make one to Jerusalem, known as Stations, or Way, of the Cross, says Morrill. The devotion includes crosses spaced at intervals (both indoors and out) alongside art such as paintings or sculptures depicting pivotal scenes from Jesus’s life. People stop to pray, meditate, and read or hear Biblical passages at each station. It’s most commonly prayed during Lent and especially on Good Friday.

Passion plays, which dramatize the final days of Jesus’s life, also started in the Middle Ages. One held in Oberammergau, Germany, has been performed every ten years all the way back to 1634.

Others are held annually in various places across the country such as San Antonio, Texas; Southington, Connecticut; and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Some faithful visit seven different churches on Good Friday, spending a moment of prayer at each. Others attend a service based on the seven last words (or direct quotes) of Jesus with readings of Bible passages, a sermon, prayers and hymns.

Fasting and attending religious services are part of the commemoration for many on Good Friday. For example, for Roman Catholics, the religious service on Good Friday is the middle part of a three-day-long liturgy, or official rites, called the Triduum. “It’s the most sacred liturgy of the year,” says Morrill.

Anglican, Orthodox, and many Protestant faiths also hold special services on Good Friday to remember the suffering of Jesus in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Prayer for Good Friday

Photo: Legitpedia
Photo: Legitpedia

Father God, we thank you for your love and the plan you have for all of mankind. From the beginning, you loved each of us so much that you sent your son to us. We thank you for his ministry. We thank you for the life he led, and we are deeply grateful for his sacrifice on the cross.

As we go into the weekend, help us remember with wonder and awe how he suffered for us; how he paid the price, and it was at such a great cost. Through the crowns of thorns and scourging, and through the cross, you carried our sins. We pray to remember to carry our cross and heed your call to follow you.

May we never forget what Christ did for us. Like a lamb to the slaughter, clothed in humility and grace, he willingly offered himself to death so that we might live forever. We are truly thankful for the extent of his love, stretched out on a cruel wooden cross. We come to you in repentance and reconciliation and forgiveness. Through the power of the cross, you have redeemed us. May we not dwell on our sufferings but leave them at your feet, trusting that You know what’s best for us.

Heavenly Father, how great and how gracious your great redemption plan for mankind. We thank You greatly as we walk through this day and commemorate the great love and sacrifice of Your beloved Son Jesus. In Christ’s name, we pray, amen!

Here are some of the Biblical verses on Good Friday

John 3:16 and 17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Some interesting facts on Good Friday In Bible!

• Jesus was crucified on this day. Judas, one of Jesus' 12 supporters, betrayed Jesus by kissing him and hence, exposing him to the chief priests

• After Jesus was arrested, he was beaten and spit on, and a crown of thorns was placed on his head

• Nails were driven through his wrists and ankles

• Jesus was then placed on a cross that held the inscription which read 'The King of the Jews'

• The etymology of 'good', in the framework of Good Friday, is a topic that has been contested over years

• The day has been claimed to be good to simply mean pious or holy, while others claimed it to be a corruption of 'God Friday'

• In addition to the other services, the Stations of the Cross known as the Three Hours' Agony are often prayed. The stations are as follows:

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death

2nd Station: Jesus carries his cross

3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time

4th Station: Jesus meets his mother

5th Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross

6th Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

7th Station: Jesus falls the second time

8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

9th Station: Jesus falls a third time

10th Station: Jesus' clothes are taken away

11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

12th Station: Jesus dies on the cross

13th Station: The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross

14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

• In German-speaking countries, Good Friday is generally referred to as Karfreitag meaning Mourning Friday

• In typical Orthodox services, people mourn the crucifixion of Christ by taking down the cross and recounting the story of Jesus' last days, which is called the Passion of Christ

• Altars remain bare on this day a life-sized cross is placed at the centre of the altar for the parishioners to kiss or touch

• Many Good Friday services end with the church bell toiling 33 times for each year of Jesus' earthly life

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