Why it's called Good Friday
If Jesus died such a horrible death on this Passover Friday, why do Christians call it "good"? Since when is torture and pain and injustice a good thing? This Passover preparation week would have been a busy one in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. There were the animals teeming near and in the temple courts (for sale to those who didn't want to cart their animal from their home towns, or to those who just couldn't find an unblemished lamb or goat among their own flocks.) Interesting to note that God never suggested that the priests become temple merchants. Offerings were meant to come from each person, gifts and sacrifices of the heart. Jesus said it clearly when he proclaimed, "My Father's house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves."
Besides the preparation for the Passover, the chief priests and Pharisees were consumed with a different task that year in Jerusalem. They wanted to be rid of Jesus. And they spent every possible moment plotting how to do just that. They found their betrayer in Judas, and managed to cook up the most unjust trial in history until they got what they wanted. (Interesting how motivated we can be when we want something bad enough.) Little did they know what they were really doing - crucifying the Son of God. Then again, maybe they did. They knew His claims. They just didn't believe Him.
Then there was the quiet dinner Jesus ate with his disciples that last time, celebrating Passover with them in a way that would change them forever. There He introduced a new covenant, one where He would write the law of love on their hearts and be with them always. He did it for the joy set before Him - the joy of releasing us from the bonds of sin, the joy of opening a door to heaven, to His Father, that we could never open without Him. The only problem was, that door needed blood spattered over its lintels and posts. As God required of Moses the night of the first Passover (sprinkle the blood on the door posts and over the lintel of the house so that the angel of death would see the blood and pass over that house), so He required it of His only Son.
The door to God required sacrifice of all that might separate us from Him. But even if we sacrificed all, we would still lack the perfect love of an a perfect life. None of us can be perfect in thought and word and deed for our whole life long. "There is none righteous, not even one." Until Jesus came. Even the Jewish leaders of His day could not find a single viable fault in Him. They looked. Oh, how they looked! But the witnesses couldn't agree on anything. What condemned Him in their eyes was the fact that He spoke the truth about his relationship to His Father, making Himself equal with God. And they just couldn't wrap their heads around that thought. He was a threat to their whole belief system. Their rules and manmade traditions. Their works that they thought made them righteous, when all it really did was make them even further from the truth. Their pride kept them from really seeing Him. They forgot about the door (when Jesus declared that's exactly what He was) and the blood that had to cover it.
Jesus didn't forget. He sweat great drops of blood over the blood He knew would be spilled. The blood He had to allow them to shed so that the Angel of Death could see the blood covering those who believe and pass over them. They were secure in Him and would one day be in His house forever, protected by the blood.
But first, He had to endure the cross where the blood would be shed. He would endure the torture of the flogging (enough to kill a man), the thorns, the mocking, the humiliation, the cursing, the nails, the jolt to His body to be raised up on that heavy cross, even the splinters from the wood on his battered skin.
He could have stopped it.
He could have called ten thousand angles to destroy His enemies and set Him free.
But He didn't.
He allowed them to crush Him.
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)
That's why He stayed. To bring back the lost sheep that have strayed, to place His own blood on the doorposts and lintel, so that the sheep could pass under the blood and be saved from the Angle of Death. To be saved from separation from His Father who loves the sheep. Who loves us.
That's why this Passover Friday is called "good." Only a very good God could have thought of such a plan and put it into action. Only a very great God would have endured the worst men could throw at Him and still love us.
Jesus said, " I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:9 NASB)