What’s Good about Good Friday?*
Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Why do Christians call the day Jesus Christ died “Good Friday”? How can this dreadful day, full of the painful agony and death of our Lord be called “good”?
Throughout the Bible we see people who discovered that God’s purposes were accomplished through their suffering. Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned, abandoned and forgotten. But years later, after becoming the second ruler of Egypt, he was able to save his family—including the brothers who had sold him into slavery—from starvation by bringing them into a land of plenty (Read the full story in Genesis chapters 37-50).
Another story that often comes to mind when we think of suffering is Job’s. In the midst of his suffering Job came face to face with God. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” he told God. “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-6).
Throughout our lives we encounter suffering and death. We could never call these things good, just as the crucifixion of Jesus cannot be called good. But God has promised that he works for the good of those who love him, even as he did with the death of Jesus. Our sins were nailed to that cross and we died with Jesus. Through faith we are forgiven. Death cannot hold us in a tomb either!
We should not commemorate Good Friday without remembering the triumph of Easter. Knowing all that Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension accomplished for us, transforms “good” into an understatement!
Are you in the midst of suffering like Joseph’s or Job’s? Can you trust God’s goodness and patiently wait to see the good he will do in spite of how awful things may look right now, just as they looked awful on that first Good Friday?
Recorded in Matthew 27:45-61 is Jesus’s cry from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did God forsake his son? Why couldn’t he look on him? Read Psalm 22:1-3 and Isaiah 6:1-7 for some clues.
Read John 20:17. We know later that Jesus was not forsaken—the debt for sin was paid. We see this in Jesus’s words to Mary Magdalene right after his resurrection. Where was he going? See also Acts 7:55.
Read Romans 8:28 to see how God uses all things for good. To whom is this addressed?
Nancy J. Baker
*This devotion first appeared in The Secret Place, Spring 2009.