April 14, 2017

What’s so Good About Good Friday?

John 19:1-30

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

—  John 19:30

Today’s reading is long, but it raises the question Would anyone there that day have called it a “good” day? The high priest Caiaphas and the Pharisees got rid of a popular, influential preacher—but at what price? Pontius Pilate, the hard-bitten Roman governor, reluctantly allowed Jesus to be crucified to appease the mob and their leaders demanding Jesus’ life. Pilate turned him over to the execution squad, for whom this was just another death sentence along with two others that day—until the centurion realized they’d killed the Son of God (Matthew 27:54)!

If the disciples called it “good,” it was only after encountering the risen Christ (John 21). And would Jesus say that Friday was “good”? The scene at Gethsemane the night before was agonizing, as Jesus begged his Father to spare him from his awful mission. Maybe later, back in heaven with God, he could finally say, “Yes, Father, that was a good day.”

The term "Good Friday" first occurred in the fourth century. Some think it was originally called “God’s Friday.” Today we can call it “good” if we appreciate the fact that Jesus’ trial, punishment, and death brought our salvation. These truths are seen through the spiritual spectacles of faith. So in that sense it truly is “Good Friday”!

Is this Friday good for you?

On Good Friday, blessed Jesus, we lament the sin and evil that made this horror necessary. But we are also grateful for your sacrifice. Help us prepare for resurrected living. In your holy name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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