The Greatness of Good Friday

by | Holidays, Rising From The Ashes

 What a supreme paradox. We now call the day Jesus was crucified, Good.Many believe this name simply evolved—as language does. They point to the earlier designation, “God’s Friday,” as its root. (This seems a reasonable conjecture, given that “goodbye” evolved from “God be with you.”)

 

Whatever its origin, the current name of this holy day offers a fitting lesson to those of us who assume (as is easy to do) that “good” must mean “happy.” We find it hard to imagine a day marked by sadness as a good day.

Good Friday Of course, the church has always understood that the day commemorated on Good Friday was anything but happy. Sadness, mourning, fasting, and prayer have been its focus since the early centuries of the church. A fourth-century church manual, the Apostolic Constitutions, called Good Friday a “day of mourning, not a day of festive Joy.” Ambrose, the fourth-century archbishop who befriended the notorious sinner Augustine of Hippo before his conversion, called it the “day of bitterness on which we fast.”

 

 

History of Good Friday

Many Christians have historically kept their churches unlit or draped in dark cloths. Processions of penitents have walked in black robes or carried black-robed statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary. And worshippers have walked the “Stations of the Cross,” praying and singing their way past 14 images representing Jesus’ steps along the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha.

 

Yet, despite—indeed because of—its sadness, Good Friday is truly good. Its sorrow is a godly sorrow. It is like the sadness of the Corinthians who wept over the sharp letter from their dear teacher, Paul, convicted of the sin in their midst. Hearing of their distress, Paul said, “My joy was greater than ever.” Why? Because such godly sorrow “brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).

 

I like to think the linguistic accident that made “God’s Friday” into “Good Friday” was no accident at all. It was God’s own doing—a sharp, prophetic jab at a time and a culture obsessed by happiness. In the midst of consumerism’s Western playground, Good Friday calls to a jarring halt the sacred “pursuit of happiness.” The cross reveals this pursuit for what it is: a secondary thing.

 

This commemoration of Christ’s death reminds us of the human sin that caused this death. And we see again that salvation comes only through godly sorrow—both God’s and, in repentance, ours. To pursue happiness, we must first experience sorrow. He who goes forth sowing tears returns in joy.

At the same time, of course, Good Friday recalls for us the greatness and wonder of God’s love—that He should submit to death for us.

No wonder, in parts of Europe, the day is called not “Good,” but “Great” or “Holy” Friday.

 

Today, Christian liturgies reflect the gravity of Christ’s act. Services linger on the details of Christ’s death and the extent of His sacrifice. Often the Stabat Mater is performed—a thirteenth-century devotional poem remembering Mary’s vigil by the cross. The poem begins “Stabat Mater Dolorosa”—that is, “a grief-stricken mother was standing.”

 

To commemorate the Lord’s hours on the cross, many Protestants hold their Good Friday services between noon and 3. They reflect, in a series of readings and songs, on Christ’s seven last words. (1: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 2: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” 3: “Woman, behold thy son!” 4: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” 5: “I thirst.” 6: “It is finished.” 7: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”) This form originated with seventeenth-century Peruvian Jesuits, one of many cases in which modern Protestants have picked up Catholic devotional practices.

 

In the Catholic Good Friday Mass, the altar is stripped of all adornments, and worshipers venerate the cross by kissing a crucifix. In the “Ceremony of the Winding Sheet,” Greek Catholics carry a cloth depicting Jesus’ dead body in procession to a shrine, where the priest places it in a symbolic tomb.

 

Some Western churches still celebrate a medieval liturgy called the Tenebrae, or Service of Darkness, in which candles and lights are gradually extinguished until the congregation sits in complete darkness—a representation of the darkness that covered the earth at the death of Jesus (Mark 15:33). Scripture readings and hymns lead the worshipers in a communal repentance for the sins that made the Crucifixion necessary.

 

The Tenebrae service ends with the strepitus, a loud, harsh noise such as the slamming of a book or crashing of a cymbal. This echoes several scriptural sounds: the final cries of Jesus, the earthquake at his death (Matt. 27:46-53), the shutting of His tomb, and the second earthquake at His rising (Matt. 28:2).

 

We do not need to be as notorious in our sinning as Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) to remember our own darkness, as he did, on Good Friday. Wilde’s 1881 poem “E Tenebris,” titled after the Tenebrae, reflects his own long, conflicted entrance into Christianity that would culminate in a deathbed conversion. In the poem, he appeals for mercy:

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy
hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God’s throne should stand.
‘He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.’
Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than
flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

 

Good Friday has always challenged merely human goodness. Its sad commemoration reminds us that in the face of sin, our goodness avails nothing. Only One is good enough to save us. That He did so is cause indeed for celebration.

 

Step By Step Guide To Debt Repair & Rebuilding Credit
Step By Step Guide To Debt Repair & Rebuilding Credit A severe debt situation is a huge financial misfortune that can ruin your ideal credit scores. If you are bothered by this excruciating condition, never worry. You are not alone in this regard. During the periods...
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
The first nutrition assistance program was started in 1939. These types of programs were developed to help people during strenuous times and financial hardships. The program we know today (SNAP) was first introduced in 1961 as the Food Stamp Act that was...
Understanding Federal Grants (Part 2)
 In the last issue we talked about how the federal grant system works and how you can make it work for you. In this issue we are going talk about exactly who's eligible to apply for federal grant money. The simple fact is that almost everyone is eligible...
How A Home Warranty Will Save You Money
A Home Warranty Will Save You Money Owning a home can be expensive. Appliances break down, and air conditioners tend to quit working in the middle of the summer. In fact, most home have a major mechanical breakdown twice each year. Usually, these breakdowns occur at...
Find The Best Section 8 Homes & Rentals
Find The Best Section 8 Homes & Rentals Are you feeling a little frustrated searching for Section 8 homes and rental property? Below is a list of multiple Section 8 housing resources. These are not in any particular order. These are just eight very good resources to...
4 Most Challenging Discussions You Can Have With Family (And How To Have Them)
It's not always easy to practice open and honest communication, especially with your family. Unfortunately, that lack of communication can have serious consequences. If you're having a hard time finding the courage to approach your family about an issue you're...
Which Protection Is Best?
Keep Your Information Safe! Makes A Great Christmas Present! Credit card numbers are sacred these days. We’d never give them out to a stranger because credit card fraud and stolen identities are never more than one mistake away. But what if I told you that somebody...
How To Find Good Insurance Companies
 Insurance is a part of life whether you’re looking to protect your life, home, or automobile. All insurance companies are not equal. Working with a good insurance company is just as, if not more, important as having coverage. Here are four things to keep...
Ways to Face Fears | Succeed
All of us have a hard time with failure, and it can often lead us to feeling insecure about ourselves. It can even begin to compound our fears and leave us feeling nervous and anxious in unfamiliar situations. We want to be able to predict and control everything that...
Social Security Disability Benefit Application Help
 There are several advantages to applying for Social Security Benefits online. There is no need for an appointment and it will definitely save you time. Visitng your local Social Security Office can be very time consuming and frustrating. Read the...
Best and Worst Student Loan Services
Best and Worst Student Loan Services This is the time of year when hundreds of thousands of Americans begin to prepare for their first semester in college. They begin to seek out the items that will sustain them during dorm life. Parents spend money on new sheets, hot...
Receiving $4000 in Home Rebates
 Are there any home improvements that you have been contemplating lately? Are you struggling to make ends meet already? Learn more about three Programs a that could help you and millions of homeowners qualify for a $4,000 rebate. These Are Very Tough...
Run A Background Check When Applying for Jobs!
 Social media is everywhere in the air around us today. Hence it is natural for you to assume you can handpick and choose what you want your employees to see. Most people therefore imagine that once they clean up their Facebook wall and delete those...
5 Strategies to Save Money on a Shoestring Budget
 If you are one of the many people who live on a tight budget, you may feel the stress of your situation on a daily basis. Even a seemingly small issue that arises and has reasonable expenses can throw your budget off track. Reducing your costs is a great...
Social Security Benefits & Retirement
Though all Americans look forward to the day when they can kick back in a lawn chair and spend time working in their flower gardens, retirement comes with many burdens. A fixed income or access to a 401(k) may not be enough to supplement the lifestyle many seniors are...
How To Get Involved with Affiliate Marketing or Direct Sales
How To Get Involved with Affiliate Marketing or Direct Sales Life can busy and complicated. With increased costs in childcare, one parent must often stay at home to watch the kids while the other parent works. Or, as someone begins their adulthood, they may need...
Best Credit Cards for Questionable Credit
Life does not always work out as planned. Sometimes, a gap in employment leads to a few missed payments, and eviction, or a repossessed vehicle. These things happen to most people. In order build credit back up, a credit card may help. Making regular...
Is Public Housing An Option for You?
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) utilizes several programs to ensure housing for lower-income families. One of these programs is Public Housing. This program was designed to provide decent and safe rental homes for lower-income...
Affordable Housing Problems
On 1st Street in Santa Ana — not far from where authorities recently cleared a tent encampment along the Santa Ana River near Angel Stadium — developer Caleb Roope wants to build nearly 1,000 apartments that will be affordable for low-income seniors and...
How Do I Get FHA Refunds?
Although FHA refunds are for people who have FHA-insured mortgage loans, not everyone is entitled to a refund. Various factors are considered to determine who can receive a refund. FHA refunds are available for those who finance their homes within three...

Subscribe

Pin It on Pinterest

The More You Share. The More We Can Help!

Share these posts & pages with friends!