So why do we call it “Good Friday.” The crucifixion was anything but good. It was the most terrible form of execution, designed to inflict the greatest amount of suffering, humiliation, and pain. The Germans call this day Karfreitag. The Kar part is an obsolete word, the ancestor of the English word care in the sense of cares and woes, and it meant mourning. So in German, it is “Mourning Friday.” And that is what the disciples did on that day—they mourned. They thought all was lost.
It is only in English that we talk about a “Good Friday.” Some have said that good can also mean holy, but I think that is a stretch. There are a number of cases in set phrases where the words God and good got switched around because of their similarity. One case was the phrase God be with you, which today is just good-bye. So perhaps Good Friday was originally God’s Friday.
But perhaps the reason we can call the day of crucifixion “Good Friday” is because of the good that was accomplished through this horrific act. In the crucifixion Jesus became our sin. He died to give us life. Through his death our sins are forgiven. The crucifixion led to the greatest good. “For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”
If we call this day “Mourning Friday” with the Germans, we are facing reality head-on. We live in a world of pain, suffering, injustice, and sadness—in the darkness we are left to mourn. But if we choose to call this day “Good Friday,” we are also facing reality, but with a different outcome. Because of the cross we have hope. Because of the cross the darkness becomes light.
Dr. Thomas Long wrote about the two worlds that are colliding in the cross and resurrection. He says of the women who came to the tomb on Sunday morning, “Without even knowing that they had crossed the border, they left the old world where hope is in constant danger, and might makes right, and peace has little chance, and the rich get richer, and the weak will eventually suffer under some Pontius Pilate, and people hatch murderous plots, and the dead people stay dead, and they entered the startling and breathtaking world of resurrection and life.”
On this “Good Friday” let us remember who we are! In the words of Pope John Paul II, “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!”