Good Friday: What is so good about the death of a historical figure?
The Good Friday of 2020 will be taking place under very unique circumstances in modern history. For the first time in modern history, churches around the developed world will not be congregating physically to commemorate the death of Jesus the Nazareth due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. Instead, most of them would probably be going online for their Good Friday and Easter services.
It is in such a time like this when people may ask us Christian, what is so good about Good Friday? When we say we are celebrating the death of a historical figure by the name of Jesus, what do we mean?
Therefore, as Christians celebrate Good Friday, and subsequently Easter Sunday, I would like to offer some reflections on what is really so good about Good Friday.
Good Friday is the culmination of hope for mankind
The Chinese has a saying that goes, “人之初，性本善” which means the beginning of human nature is kind and good. However, the Scripture has this to say, that “all have sinned for all have fallen short of God’s glory” (Rom 3:23). In other parts of the Bible, it said that we are all “dead in our transgressions” (Eph 2:1-3). This means a few things, that firstly, in the sight of an all-holy and all-just God, we are bound to be judged to be unrighteous and due for our due penalty, which is death. Secondly, this means that we have no power to save ourselves from this predicament. After all, how is it possible for someone who is dead to save themselves?
That is when Jesus comes in as the hope for mankind. The sacrificial system of the Hebrew Old Testament states that the Jews had to do an atonement sacrifice every year in order to atone for their sins before God (see the book of Leviticus). But the Scripture also said that these sacrifices cannot take away our sins (Heb 10:3-4). Without a permanent sacrifice, there is no hope for mankind to be forever acquitted and be justified before God.
That is why Jesus had to be sent to the cross, as an atonement of sacrifice for our sins, that God has promised to mankind in His words. The act of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on the first Good Friday was the culmination of the hope that God has promised for mankind. And it is because of this that the popular song goes:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know, who holds the future
My life is worth living, just because He livesBecause He Lives
Good Friday is the mark of victory over death and sin
Jesus did not only die on the cross on Good Friday but he also resurrected on Easter Sunday. This means that Jesus has won and gained victory over death and sin for us. Paul, in his exhortation to the Corinthian church on the physical resurrection of Jesus, said that if Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith would still be in futile and we would continue to remain in our sins (1 Cor 15:17). He had also said that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23).
The implication is clear: from Jesus’ act on the cross, we have become alive in Christ (Eph 2:4). We can experience the grace of God and gain victory over the things that used to hold us. We can be free from sin’s bondage (Rom 6:8-10). And because of our victory in Christ, those who received Christ and believed in his name gain the right to be God’s children (John 1:12).
That is what’s so good about Good Friday when we celebrate the death of this historical figure every year. Indeed, we can sing “oh death where is your sting?”
Our lives can be changed forever because of Good Friday
But the world would not have changed if this is only the case. The amazing thing about Good Friday is that as we become God’s people through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and experience His grace in our lives, we are poised to live a changed life forever. I myself have my own story which you can read here.
As I scurry around the social media, I read some of my friends’ testimonies which I would like to share here:
The issue is this: no one can change our lives as much as Jesus. And Jesus can change our lives because He is alive. He is alive because He has won against death and sin. Because of this, sin has no hold on us as Christians. Death has no hold over us. We can be sure that even if we are adversely affected by Covid-19 or other stuff this lifetime, we have eternal life in Christ Jesus, and this fact will never change.
And it is because of this, our lives can change.