I serve in kids ministry and we do our best to work about a month ahead, especially for bigger events like Holy Week. In reflecting on my lesson for Good Friday I got wrapped up in something so very basic, the name “good Friday”. It’s not good at all. it’s the day we brutally murdered the man who was perfect, who came for the saving of the world. I had this flippant thought, “Shouldn’t it be called bad Friday?” It’s is an important Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and it is observed with solemnity and reverence around the world. However, every single year, every time it’s mentioned I can’t help but to find it amusing, if not perhaps a bit ironic that this day is called “good” Friday, despite the fact that it marks the death of the central figure of our faith. So I thought, let me take a bit of a deep dive into why it’s called good historically, and why we call it good today. If for no other reason than to try and prevent the laughter from happening In my head.
The exact origin of the name “Good Friday” is uncertain, and there are several theories. One theory suggests that the name comes from the Old English phrasing of “God,” who is “holy,” and so it may have been called Holy Friday or “God” Friday and later it was changed to “good” in modern English. Another theory suggests that it comes from the Latin phrase “Dies Sanctus,” which means “holy day,” and was later translated to “Good Day” and then eventually into Good Friday in English. Yet another theory suggests that the name “good” was meant to be ironic or sarcastic, as it is in other phrases like “good grief” or “good riddance.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the origin of the name, one thing is clear: Good Friday is a somber day for Christians. It is a day of mourning and reflection, a time to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity. Jesus was arrested, tried, and condemned to death by crucifixion on the Friday before Easter Sunday. His death is the ultimate act of love and selflessness, as he gave his life to save humanity from sin and death.
Given the solemnity of the occasion, it might seem strange to call this day “good.” After all, it marks the death of Jesus, the very person that Christians believe to be the son of God and the savior of the world. However, there are several reasons why this name is appropriate, despite its seeming irony.
First, the term “good” can be seen as a reflection of the ultimate good that Jesus’s death brought about. Jesus’s death and resurrection opened the gates of heaven, offering eternal life and forgiveness to all who are called to believe in him. This is the ultimate good news, and it is what Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday. In this sense, Good Friday can be seen as a necessary step towards the ultimate good of Easter Sunday.
Second, the name “good” can also be seen as a reflection of the idea that Jesus’s death was a victory over sin and death. By willingly giving up his life, Jesus conquered death and paved the way for eternal life for all who believe in him. This victory is seen as a good thing, even if the circumstances surrounding it were tragic and painful.
In conclusion, while it might seem funny or ironic to call the day on which Jesus was killed “Good Friday,” there are good reasons for the name. It reflects the ultimate good that Jesus’s death brought about, and it celebrates the victory that he won over sin and death. For Christians, Good Friday is a day of solemn remembrance and gratitude, as they reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for them. And so if you find it ironic, as I do, take a moment to reflect on the can’t that our good was the good that Jesus was always seeking, and so Good Friday was in fact His plan all along, and it couldn’t be called anything else.