What is Good Friday?
Good Friday is a holiday celebrated by the Christian Church in commemoration of the day Jesus died on a cross. Christians believe that the death of Jesus as a willing sacrifice paid the penalty for the sinfulness of humanity. As a result, we can receive forgiveness today.
Christians around the world consider Jesus to have been God in the flesh—the second member of the Trinity. (The Trinity is the understanding that God is one in essence but exists with three centers of personhood.) Seeing the hopeless and sinful condition of humanity, he chose to enter into Creation in the form of the man, Jesus Christ.
Arriving as a baby born to a virgin named Mary, Jesus grew up among us. At about the age of 30, Jesus began his public ministry of teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven.
Three years later, the Jewish religious leaders (who felt threatened by Jesus’ rising popularity) conspired against him. The Bible describes how they paid people to give false accusations against Jesus, implying that Jesus was rebelling against the Roman authorities that were ruling over Israel at the time.
Jesus was subsequently arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to execution by crucifixion. After verifying that he was dead by thrusting a sword through his side, the Romans allowed the body to be taken down and buried in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. Guards were stationed to watch over the tomb to ensure that no one, especially the disciples, tried to do anything to the body.
The Bible reveals that this was all part of God’s plan from the beginning. Several Old Testament prophecies written centuries earlier foretold the crucifixion of Jesus in detail—even before crucifixion became a common form of execution.
So why was the death of Jesus necessary? According to Christian teaching, God is a God of love as well as a God of justice. His love desired to offer forgiveness to all of humanity for its sinful rebellion against him. But his justice demanded that wrongs be punished, and the punishment for rebellion against God is death. So the solution was for God to become a man and pay the penalty in our place.
However, Christians also recognize that Jesus’ death was only temporary. On the third day—the day we know as Easter—his tomb was found empty. Over the next forty days, hundreds of eyewitnesses reported seeing Jesus alive. He had walked with them, taught them, and eaten with them. Their conclusion: Jesus had risen from the dead.
Today, Christians still observe the Good Friday/Easter weekend as pivotal to their faith. All of Christianity hinges on the death of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection from the dead. It teaches that, because of his death, we can experience forgiveness. And because of his resurrection, we can know his has authority over life and death.