“What’s so good about a day your God sacrificed his only son?” As laymen maybe you’ve been asked this or a similar question about this Holy Day Of Celebration. This is a question I have been asked by people outside of the church / non-believers many times. To ask this question is to completely misunderstand just what occurred on this great day.
Most scholars estimate that somewhere between 30-36 AD ( AD actually standing for anno-domini or In The Year of Our Lord in Latin ) Jesus Christ took his predestined place on the Crucifix on top of a hill in Calvary right outside the walls of Jerusalem. Before we can begin to celebrate our Lord and Savior, we have to start at the beginning. We have to start at Genesis. You see once God gave us the world and all of creation, we disobeyed him. When the entirety of the human race was forsaken with Adam and Eve in the Garden, God still showed his Mighty Grace upon us with the words in Genesis 3:15; “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.” Our God promised us a Divine seed of woman that would one day crush the head of Satan. Our God promised us his Son, Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to that hilltop in Calvary, Jesus fulfilled His Fathers plan. Under rule of
Tiberius and Pontius Pilate, Jesus was ordered to be Crucified. To truly understand and appreciate this event that makes Good Friday, let’s take a look at Jesus’ last 7 statements.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”
Pure forgiveness. Right up to his final hours on earth, Jesus preaches forgiveness. When He was being nailed to The Cross, Jesus could have thought about those who sentenced him out of pure envy and hate. He could of thought about those that had betrayed him, primarily Judas or Peter, whom denied him three times. What about forseeing today’s people, who so often deny Him? Instead, Jesus preached pure compassion. He teaches forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone, Jesus answers seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The second word again is about forgiveness and is even spoken directly to a sinner. As Jesus was bleeding on the Cross right next to two criminals, one begins to mock him. The other defends Jesus and declares “this man has done nothing wrong.” Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) Ignoring his own suffering, Jesus responds with mercy in His second word, living out his own Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” For it not matter not the sin or crime, Jesus always forgives.
“Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.”
Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”
Again thinking of everyone but Himself, Jesus directs his third statement at His Mother Mary and His beloved Disciple John. Jesus, realizing He will no longer be of this earthly world anymore, entrust John to care for his Mother. These words are truly a great reminder to always set forth with love, care and concern for all.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
These, in my opinion, are the most important and crucial words Jesus spoke that day. This is because they remind us that Jesus was Human. Jesus felt pain, anger, sorrow and suffering just as we all do. He bled as we all bleed. As Jesus’ death approached, his Human Heart felt alone and even abandoned by God and The Holy Spirit. Have we not all felt this way? Will we all not, if only for a split second, technically die alone before the embrace of God’s Eternal Kingdom? Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doing so, frees us from the clutches of sin.
As Jesus face his final moments, the thirst he speaks of is not a physical thirst, but a spiritual. He thirsts for love. He thirsts for the love of his Father, who had destined He must fulfill His mission all alone in this dreadful hour. He thirsts for the love and salvation of his people, the human race. Jesus practiced what he preached; “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, That he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)“
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished;”
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.
The greek word “Tetelestai” which means to bring to a close, to complete or to fulfill. Jesus knew that He had fulfilled His destiny and God’s Will for Him. The Roman soldiers offered wine on a sprig of hyssop to Jesus in these final moments. Hyssop is a small plant that was used to sprinkle the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts of the Hebrews (Exodus 12:22). Just as the Hebrews sacrificed an innocent lamb for Passover, Jesus, an innocent “lamb”, was slain so our sins may be forgiven. When Jesus died, He “handed over” the Spirit. The symbolism of water for the Holy Spirit is made apparant throughout the bible. In John 4:10 Jesus mentions “living water”, in John 19:34: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” The piercing of his side fulfills the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10: “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” The piercing of Jesus’ side prefigures the Sacraments of Eucharist (blood) and Baptism (water), as well as the beginning of the Church. It is again Jesus’ divine road to death that brings us eternal life.
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Just before He dies, the seventh statement of Jesus is directed to The Father in Heaven. Jesus was obedient to His Father to the end, and his final word before his death on the Cross was a prayer to His Father. The union of Jesus and God the Father is remarked in The Gospel of John, “The Father and I are one.”(10:30) and again at the Last Supper: “Do you not believe I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” (14:10). When Jesus fulfilled his own mission of God on the Cross, he gave us the opportunity to have God eternally within us. To become one with the Lord. The answer to what is so good about Good Friday? It is the day we celebrate God’s chosen path of love and resurrection for the human race through his only Son Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
So that everyone who believes in him
may not perish but have eternal life.