Church Blog

Very Good Friday

Every year there are 2 questions about Good Friday. I can’t remember year where there wasn’t any. Here they are:

1. Why does the church call it “Good Friday,” when what happened was so clearly bad?

The simple answer is actually simple but it till doesn’t get to the heart of the question. We call it “good,” because of what results – our salvation. We call it “good,” because God uses what is clearly bad to bring about something great – the redemption of the world.

But the actual killing of Jesus is still bad! Of course it is and we probably should find stronger words than that. It is bad, it is evil, it is Satanic.

We have a tendency to do one of two things with evil. We either need to downplay the bad of some things in the world in order to keep our simplistic idea that “people are generally pretty good,” or we exaggerate the effect that a good result has on the bad action – as if somehow crucifying an innocent man became morally acceptable because God brought good from it. No.

Friday is good because God used the greatest human evil for the greatest human good. Both are true, side by side. There is no evil act that has the last word in the face of the God who redeems.

2. Why do we somberly remember our sin when Jesus has already paid for it?

This is a good question, when asked honestly. Sometimes we take things apart that cannot be taken apart, just to be able to look at them more clearly…and then put them back together again. So, no, we do not pretend to go back to a time before our sins were forgiven and feel bad for them as if somehow our guilty feelings play a role in our penance. If Friday were about acts of penance, it would not be good at all. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone by Christ alone, even on Good Friday.

We remember our sin somberly for two reasons. First, we remember because it is no longer true, but it once was very true. That honesty aids in our present humility – that is who we were, that is what we used to do – and in our present gratitude – that is what Jesus saved us from. Thank you Jesus! Truly, that would enough of a reason to turn out the lights, light candles and wear black on Good Friday. Yet, there is a second reason we remember our sin with grief and that is so that we might come to hate our sin more severely, even now. The sinfulness of sin quickly escapes us in our day to day. Our culture tries to teach us that sin really isn’t that bad, we commit small crimes against God’s holiness on a daily basis and act as if they are no big deal. On Good Friday, we force ourselves to stop and consider the cost of our sin, at least the cost to Jesus. There is also the cost to our loves ones, our neighbors, our environment and on generations to come. There is no such thing as sin without victims.

Good Friday is when we gather to worship God who paid for our sin, who presently brings good out of bad, makes us humbly grateful and teaches us to absolutely hate our sin – and that is a good thing.