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What's good about Good Friday?

Updated: Apr 12, 2023



The obvious answer is that it’s a public holiday, so many will enjoy a day off work. Business owners in the leisure and tourism sector will be hoping for fine weather to draw in extra trade as people make the most of the holiday and flock to the beach or tourist hotspot.

First time round, however, Good Friday was anything but good. It was grisly, brutal and dark. The preacher, Jesus of Nazareth, had been arrested, tried, flogged and ridiculed. Crowds that only a few days before had cheered him into the city of Jerusalem as a hero, now jostled to jeer and stare at his bloody figure staggering under the weight of the cross beam he was forced to drag through the streets. Stretched out naked onto the wooden structure, nails were driven through his wrist bones and feet to hold him suspended until death mercifully arrived.

Death, usually after 6 hours - 4 days, was due to multifactorial pathology: after-effects of compulsory scourging and maiming, haemorrhage and dehydration causing hypovolaemic shock and pain, but the most important factor was progressive asphyxia caused by impairment of respiratory movement. Resultant anoxaemia exaggerated hypovolaemic shock. Death was probably commonly precipitated by cardiac arrest, caused by vasovagal reflexes, initiated inter alia by severe anoxaemia, severe pain, body blows and breaking of the large bones. The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim. F P Retief, L Cilliers The history and pathology of crucifixion 2003

Crucifixion was a form of public entertainment - those watching this spectacle shouted out abuse and mocked, “He saved others, why can’t he save himself?” He did nothing except hang there, submitting to the process. He could presumably have commanded angel armies to annihilate the whole Roman occupation force in one move, but he didn’t. It turns out that Jesus was not put there by force, a victim of Roman brutality, he was there by choice.


As the writers of the New Testament later processed and understood what had happened they explained how their holy scriptures had pointed to this all along. All of the ancient Jewish sacrifice rituals indicated the colossal debt that humanity owes to God for the relentless pursuit of self. The bible calls it sin. It means missing the mark. Every child born, every girl, boy, man or woman has exercised their God-given gift of freewill and pursued wishes and desires that miss the mark. Lies, lust, stealing - all of us are guilty. The disciples of Jesus would go on to explain that “…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). In order for sin to be removed, something better, something permanent was required.

The perfect, sinless Jesus - the only one who ever has been truly innocent - came into the world to save sinners. That was why he died. His death was the only sacrifice that could really do the job of removing yours and my long incriminating list of accumulating sin.

The reason Good Friday is good, is that on this day in history, God himself paid off the colossal sin debt owed by you and me. Jesus took the hit so that we wouldn’t have to. He did what we could never do. Peter would go on to write “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”. Good Friday is so so good for us!


How does it work?

It requires you and I to acknowledge our sin to God - to own up and stop making excuses. We must confess out loud to God the obvious things that come to mind, and throw ourselves onto his mercy. Pray something like, “Let what Jesus did on the cross count for me!” Ask him for the peace and confidence that he has heard you. Sit in his presence in that moment… then ask him to fill you with his supernatural power to live your life as a disciple of Jesus. Then find another follower of Jesus and tell them what you have done.

May God bless you and fill you with his love and power, take you by the hand today and lead you on your journey into life!



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