Every morning during Holy Week, my little boys and I read our Bible stories about Easter, and about the events of that last week in Jesus’s life. We find them in the four Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
First, we read about the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus riding a donkey, the crowds waving their palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” That seems like a good start to the story.
Next, we read about the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His friends before being betrayed by one of them. We see the image of the King of Kings, kneeling before His disciples, lovingly washing their feet, one by one. We talk about how this is the way He commands us to love and serve one another in humility. We understand that He is the only one who can wash us clean, from the inside out, and remove our sins.
We remember Jesus breaking the bread, and telling His disciples how His body will be broken. He takes the cup and calls it His blood, to be poured out for the sins of the world.
We imagine the anguish Jesus feels in the garden, betrayed by a supposed friend, knowing His hour to die is almost at hand. He prays to His Father, asking could there be another way to accomplish this plan? Yet, He submits fully to the Father’s will and not His own.
After that, we learn how Jesus was accused by men, mocked, beaten, and made to carry His own cross to the place He would be nailed upon it. We talk about how He took the full wrath of God caused by our sin, and the sin of the whole world on Himself, not because had to, but because He chose to. He did it because He loves us that much.
Finally, we read about how when He died, there was darkness, the earth shook, and His faithful friends watched in sorrow. Even His mother stood at His feet and saw her beloved son be crucified. Forsaken and alone, Jesus said “Father forgive them.” He breathed His last with the words, “It is finished.” He gave up His spirit to His Father. And He died.
Why then, do we call this day good? Especially in the minds of children, it might make more sense to call it “bad Friday”, or “sad Friday”? Truly in the history of the world there was no greater tragedy, no worse crime ever committed, than nailing God Himself to a cross to die for sins He didn’t commit.
The other day one of my little boys asked me, “Mommy, why is it called ‘Good Friday?’” Since the I have been thinking about how best to answer his question. How can I explain the importance what this day means for those who trust Christ as our Savior and Lord. This is what I will tell my children…
First, it is good, because God is good.
“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
It is good because from the very beginning, God had a plan to rescue His people after the fall, to save us from sin. On Good Friday, He did what He promised.
“So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.””
It is good because it was on this day that God showed how great His love is for His people.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is good because Christ is our Good Shepherd, who cares for us. No one took His life from Him, He willingly gave it up for His sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
““Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.””
This day is good, because Jesus was the final Passover lamb, the only acceptable sacrifice to atone for sin and defeat death once and for all.
“He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Good Friday is good, because what Christ did on the cross, allowed us to enter into fellowship again with God, a fellowship that had been lost since the fall in the garden of Eden. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” and did the work He came to do, God tore the veil in the temple, and allowed us to be with Him again.
“So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!””
It is a good day, because through the death of Jesus, we can now have the hope of eternal life with Him.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Good Friday is good, because it led to Easter Sunday, the greatest victory, the most amazing miracle the world has ever known. The day that Christ rose from the dead and out of the tomb is the best day there has ever been!
“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Because of Good Friday, because of Easter Sunday, He will reign forever and ever, and we will worship Him, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
“saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!””
My little boys are only four and six years old. They won’t understand all of this yet. But we will keep talking about it, and reading in our Bible what Jesus did to save us on that first Good Friday.
But for now, this is what my oldest son said to me when I asked him if he had figured out why we call it “Good Friday”? He said, “Mommy, I think I know the answer. I think the answer is always because Jesus died to save us from our sins.” Yes, I agree, buddy. And I am so thankful for that, because we could never have saved ourselves. It is a good thing that Jesus loved us enough to do it for us. We have a God who is good, and merciful, and loving even unto death on a cross. And that, my children, is why we call it “Good Friday.”