Who came up with the idea of calling the Friday before Easter “good”?
When we think through the last weeks of Jesus’ life and ministry, the focus draws us to the events of Friday, the day of his death (the Bible in John 18-19). Beginning with Thursday evening we see Jesus in the agony of prayer in the garden, followed by His betrayal with a kiss by His supposed friend, Judas…then having all His disciples forsake Him and flee to save their own skins.
We see Him going through the mockery of those illegal trials during the night, the unimaginable pain of the flogging, the humiliation at the hands of rough soldiers who laugh and mock him unmercifully. We witness the horrors of the crucifixion, with its hours-long untold brutality and humiliation, leading up to that horrific moment when Jesus cries, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” There is no way we can fully capture the horror of that fateful Friday.
And we call that day…“Good Friday”?
That designation would be a terrible misnomer but for one word. That word was uttered at the very climax of those horrendous events of that day. It wasn’t a pitiful, weak, last dying gasp. It was, with all the strength that the dying God-Man could muster, a rousing shout of triumph. As Max Lucado has said, had His hands not been nailed down He would have shot a fist skyward in a gesture of victory with the exclamation of that one word!
That word is “tetelestai” in the original Greek language of the New Testament of the Bible. English Bibles translate that word as “It is finished!” (John 19:30). It could also have been translated with the accounting term, “Paid in full!”
In other words, all that Jesus came to do, all that the prophets had foretold in the Old Testament, all the penalty demanded by the justice of God for our sins, all that God had decided to provide for our undeserved redemption--all that had been fully accomplished—completed, paid in full--once and for all!
At that moment on that Friday, our salvation and forgiveness were made possible, and our eternal destiny was provided for. The enemy of our soul was defeated. Hope was restored to a beleaguered world. As Isaiah had seen centuries before, “Out of the anguish of his soul he [God] shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).
Jesus died in our place when “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus fully paid the judicial price: “For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). With the demands of God’s justice satisfied, “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
In fact, Jesus promised that those who trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will receive eternal life and a resurrection body, as well! “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day….whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:40,47).
It is finished—paid in full!
Christ’s resurrection was God’s “Amen!” to Jesus’ “It is finished!” “God raised Him up…because it was not possible for Him to be held by [death]” (Acts 2:24).
And that’s why we call the Friday before Easter, Good Friday. That one word--tetelestai!--triumphantly shouted, says it all! Christ accomplished everything required to gain salvation for lost sinners…for us. Jesus’ triumph makes the Friday of his death infinitely good!
Have you trusted in the risen Christ who died on “Good Friday” and rose again so you could have the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life?