Good Friday has significance to all of humanity. Even many faiths who do not believe Jesus was the Christ, the son of God, believe He was a great prophet. If nothing else, it is a great love story which should move anyone to be a better person.
Interesting enough, it is only referred to as ‘Good Friday’ in the Western world, other parts of the world call it ‘Holy Friday’ or ‘Great and Holy Friday’. Calling it this can seem a bit perplexing since it is a day associated with such horrific events. Yet, without those horrific events and a resurrection, it would be just another Friday. It’s called this because today was the day Jesus made atonement for our sins. He paid the price we couldn’t pay. And although we tend to focus on the Cross on this day, a whole lot more happened than a man being nailed to a cross. In fact, many men were nailed to a cross on this day, it was a common occurrence.
In Jesus’ time, this Friday just happened to be the first day of Passover. When you think about why Passover was originally observed, it brings a whole new light to the significance of the events on this day.
The primary observances of Passover are related to the Exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15. Many of the Passover observances are instituted in Chs. 12-15.
The name “Passover” refers to the fact that God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In Hebrew, it is known as Pesach (that “ch” is pronounced as in the Scottish “loch”), which is based on the Hebrew root meaning “pass over”. The holiday is also referred to as Chag he-Aviv (the Spring Festival), Chag ha-Matzoth (the Festival of Matzahs), and Zeman Herutenu (the Time of Our Freedom) (again, all with those Scottish “ch”s).
What normally took place the very first Passover is laid out in Exodus 12, but here is brief outline:
They had to choose a lamb. “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.” … “Slaughter them at twilight.” The were told “Do not break any of the bones.” “Take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses.”
The Lord brought judgement that night. “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
What happened to Jesus on this Friday is recorded in several of the Gospels, you can read them in Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23;John 13-14; John 18-19 but here is a brief outline:
They, the chief priests and the elders of the people, chose a lamb. “And consulted together in order to arrest Jesus by stratagem secretly and put Him to death.” “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, The One I shall kiss is the Man; seize Him. And he came up to Jesus at once and said, Hail (greetings, good health to You, long life to You), Master! And he embraced Him and kissed Him with [pretended] warmth and devotion. Jesus said to him, Friend, for what are you here?” “WHEN IT was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people held a consultation against Jesus to put Him to death. And they bound Him and led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate the governor.” They took him to Pilate to have him judged and sentenced to death, but Pilate said to the Jews, “I find no fault in Him.” “They all replied, Let Him be crucified! And he said, Why? What has He done that is evil? But they shouted all the louder, Let Him be crucified!” “And all the people answered, Let His blood be on us and on our children!”
“When Judas, His betrayer, saw that [Jesus] was condemned, [Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and] with remorse [with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences] he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, Saying, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They replied, What is that to us? See to that yourself.”
Pilate “delivered Him over to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led [Him] away; so He went out, bearing His own cross, to the spot called The Place of the Skull–in Hebrew it is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him ….”
“So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first one, and of the other who had been crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came (flowed) out.” “It was now about the sixth hour (midday), and darkness enveloped the whole land and earth until the ninth hour (about three o’clock in the afternoon), While the sun’s light faded or was darkened; and the curtain [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two.
I know that I left some details out and didn’t really present the story the way we are so familiar with, there is a reason. I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the significance and relationship between what happened to Jesus Christ and what happened at the first Passover.
Passover – Choose a Lamb.
Good Friday – The chief priest chose Jesus
Passover – The lamb must be without defect.
Good Friday – Pilate found no fault in Him; Judas seen him as innocent.
Passover – The lamb was restrained and sacrificed.
Good Friday – Jesus was restrained and crucified.
Passover – Slaughtered at twilight with no broken bones.
Good Friday – They didn’t break Jesus’s bones.
Passover – The blood covered the households and the Lord passed over them with His judgement.
Good Friday – Jesus shed His blood over those who seek Him so that God will pass over His judgement on them.
Just as God lead the Israelites out of captivity following the first Passover, He led mankind out of captivity with this Passover.
If we accept Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, who was beaten, died, and rose again and acknowledge He paid the price for us, then we are covered by His blood. Just like the houses were. And just like the households who were covered by the lambs blood, on the day of judgement, God will pass over us. THAT is surely GOOD NEWS! Which makes this truly a GOOD FRIDAY! GREAT FRIDAY!! HOLY FRIDAY!!