Good Friday | April 3, 2015

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

The source of our term for the Friday before Easter, "Good Friday," is not clear. It may be a corruption of the English phrase "God's Friday," according to Professor Laurence Hull Stookey in Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church(p. 96). It is the common name for the day among English- and Dutch-speaking people. It is a day that proclaims God's purpose of loving and redeeming the world through the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a day that is good because God was drawing the world to God's self in Christ. As seen in John's gospel, particularly, God was in control. God was not making the best of a bad situation, but was working out God's intention for the world — winning salvation for all people. We call it "good" because we look backward at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!

"Good Friday" is not a universal name for the day. The liturgical title for the day in the Western church was "Friday of Preparation," since the time Jews used the word paraskeue (getting ready) for Friday, meaning the "day of preparation." Popular names for the day are "Holy Friday" among the Latin nations, "Great Friday" among the Slavic peoples, "Friday of Mourning" in Germany, "Long Friday" in Norway, and "Holy Friday" (Viernes Santo) among Hispanic peoples.

The United Methodist Book of Worship has rich and useful resources for Good Friday and all the days of Holy Week and the Great Three Days (Holy Thursday evening through Easter), 338-376.

Source: Discipleship Ministries, United Methodist Church. Written by Daniel Benedict.