How to have a ‘good’ Good Friday

How can Good Friday be good? Good Friday is the day that Christians all around the world remember the suffering of Jesus Christ on a cross.

Depictions of Jesus Christ’s suffering are immortalized within our cultural framework because of such movies as The Passion of the Christ. However, we are not meant to wallow or suffer in the grief of Jesus with torment and pain.

On this day of sadness, we wonder: what is so good about this phrase Good Friday?  There is no clear answer, but the word “good” and “God” were mixed together in the English speaking world.  For instance, the surname “Goodspeed” derives from “Godspeed”, which comes from the expression “God speed (with you)”  The expression, “good bye” came from the phase, “God be with ye (you). 

Despite the origins of the phases, we don’t really feel “good” on Good Friday.

No matter what the origins of the phase, we cannot escape our feelings.  Are we meant to feel guilty and depressed on Good Friday? We don’t feel “good” about Christ suffering.  Are we meant to feel the pressure to be grateful of Jesus’ torment? 

No! We must acknowledge our feelings of grief and loss regarding Jesus’ suffering on Good Friday.  We cannot deny these feelings, nor should we. The stages of grief are real for us as they were for Jesus and his disciples:

  1. Denial – “Surely, not I Lord.” (Judas)
  2. Anger – “I will never deny you Jesus.” (Peter)
  3. Bargaining – “Father take this cup away from me…” (Jesus)
  4. Depression – “Tell me where you have taken my Lord?” (Mary Magdalene)
  5. Acceptance -  “Not my will, but yours Father.” (Jesus)

Clearly, we cannot hide our emotions, nor should we punish ourselves because of what Jesus Christ went through.  Christ, who is good, gave up his life willingly and lovingly so that we could have eternal life.

The way to have a ‘good’ Good Friday is to acknowledge that we experience sadness, grief, and loss on this Good Friday. We  need not beat ourselves up on this day. We, on this Good Friday, realize that Jesus came to teach us the way of truth, show us genuine  love, and to set us free from sin.

In order to have a ‘good’ Good Friday we must embrace the sacrifice not as a punishment, but as grace given to us by God.

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

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