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3-28-18

Christians Observe Good Friday


By Jeffry Boatright


This is a particularly special week for Christians all around the world. Referred to by many as Holy Week, we commemorate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From somber observances of Palm Sunday to festive celebrations rejoicing His resurrection, Christians of all denominations concur that this week’s significance defines the past, present and future.


One of the most difficult things for some of us to understand, however, is why we refer to the day that commemorates Jesus Christ’s death as Good Friday. It certainly doesn’t seem good that the Savior of the world would suffer humiliation and persecution, a crown of thorns, agony on the cross and assault during His death.


The 27th chapter of Matthew tells us that during the day in which Christ was crucified darkness came over all the land and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open, according to Matthew’s writing. The gospel goes on to say that when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Still, why would we refer to the day in which we observe the death of the Son of God as good? As Christians, we know that Jesus fulfilled the scriptures when He was buried in the tomb and was resurrected on the third day. Perhaps the words of George Bernard in that cherished hymn, The Old Rugged Cross, sums it up best. Bernard wrote, “Oh that old rugged cross, so despised by the world has a wondrous attraction for me. For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary.” The fourth verse of Bernard’s beloved hymn reiterates what is written in God’s word. “Then He’ll call me home someday to my home far away where His glory forever I’ll share,” Bernard wrote.


While it is widely agreed that the origin of Good Friday’s name might be linked to the term God’s Friday, many theologians also agree that the name, Good Friday, is fitting because of the goodness of God and that the day marks the fulfillment of the scripture. According to the United Methodist Church, God was not making the best of a bad situation, but was working out His intention for the world. “We call it good because we look backward at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter,” the United Methodist Church’s website states.


Although Good Friday is not a national holiday, it is widely observed throughout the United States. Schools and businesses often close, and various churches hold special services, recognizing the impact and sanctity of the day in history. For many, it is a day for family tradition. Such traditions might include shopping, coloring eggs, personal reflection or perhaps gardening.


Locally, Good Friday has been recognized and accepted for generations as the ideal date to plant a garden. Most seasoned gardeners and farmers will promptly attest to the benefits of planting on Good Friday. According to North Carolina State University Assistant Professor Matthew Vann, Good Friday has most likely been a reference date for planting because it is a good reference for the coming of spring in the south.


While the crucifixion might represent death, the resurrection represents life. What better time of the year for life and the resurrection be represented than spring? Christians can readily see God’s hand at work all around when we observe new foliage and the emergence of newborn creatures. It is truly a wonderful time.


It is noted that even pine trees remind us of the cross each year as Easter approaches. With their new growth, the tallest shoots form a cross. Perhaps as we see the small yellow crosses atop growing saplings this season, we will be reminded of the cross that Jesus endured. The cross will perhaps remind us of the significance of Good Friday.


Certainly the birth and resurrection of Christ are monumental. It was on Good Friday, however, that Jesus assumed the role of Sacrificial Lamb. He fulfilled the scriptures, giving eternal prominence to Christmas and Easter.