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Hey Mom, Why Do They Call it Good Friday?

Hey Mom, Why Do They Call it Good Friday?

Good Friday was a holiday for school children when I was growing up. One Good Friday I asked my mother, “Why do they call the day Jesus died ‘Good Friday’? It seems like it should be called ‘Bad Friday.’” 

She wasn’t sure. And it wasn’t until years later that I could call it good and mean it.

Out of college, I joined the staff of an international youth ministry. I thought it would be beneficial to have my small group of high school gals study the Scriptures contained in a gospel tract we used to introduce others to Christ.

As I dug deeper into the second principle, “Humankind is sinful and separated from God,” I realized this study was more for me than for my group. 

I knew “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But I hadn’t realized how much sin had affected me. I saw myself as a pretty good person; I didn’t intentionally wrong people. 

During that study I became aware of how sin affected my motivations and those of every person. I grieved to think how our sin—my sin—saddened God and marred His creation. I realized, contrary to my culture’s belief, there are no inherently good people. That is why we struggle to keep good habits and bad ones come so easily. Our fallen nature affects everything about us. 

The following Scriptures expanded my understanding of sin. Notice how sin has affected all of us.

  • “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
  • “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
  • “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 
  • “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
  • “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
  • “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).
  • “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
  • “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment…. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:22).
  • “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
  • “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).

I quickly realized that sin goes much deeper than actions like murder and stealing. It manifests itself in critical thoughts and selfish attitudes. God looks into our hearts. He sees our motives. That’s why even good deeds done from an impure heart are filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). 

The Bible is clear. You and I need a Savior, not just to get into heaven, but also to live every day. 

The Lamb of God

John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” How those Jewish listeners must have thrilled at those words. After sacrificing Passover lambs for centuries to cover their sins, the One who would deal with their sins once and for all had finally come (Hebrews 10:10-14).

On Good Friday Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy: 

“But he [Jesus] was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all … When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:5-6, 11).

The Pain of Becoming Sin

In Jerusalem, I visited Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Story after story of needless cruelty crushed me. A picture of a smiling mother and her two-year old son was followed with the story of how the Nazis separated mother and child from each other and sent them to different death camps before murdering them both. I left a wet mess. 

If just reading short snippets of those World War II horrors pained me, I can only imagine what it was like to live them. Jesus did more than live them; blameless Jesus, who’d never had even one impure thought, became each horrendous sin.

The agony Jesus experienced on the cross sliced much deeper than the physical pain of crucifixion. Jesus took on His body every sin that has or ever will be committed. He took the sins that were committed against us as well as the ones we’ve committed. He suffered in a few hours what would take the rest of us an eternity to suffer. He took the hell we deserve so we could share His heaven.

The Bible puts it this way, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Johnny Hart, in his B C Comic, summed up Good Friday well. 

“If you were going to be hanged on that day and He volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?”


That is why we call the day Jesus died “Good Friday.” Because on that day Jesus took the punishment our sin deserved and gave us His perfect righteousness and eternal life. That is certainly good for us!


Dear Jesus,

Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I can never thank You enough. Fill me with a sense of Your presence and a desire to walk with You. Make me into the person You created me to be. May I honor You every day for what You have done for me.



Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/StudioGrandQuest

Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.