When Is Good Friday? Dates & History
- Contributing Writers Edited by Liz Auld
- 2019 22 Mar
Good Friday Falls on Friday, April 2, 2021.
This holiday is always the Friday before Easter Sunday.
Though we are called to remember the gospel all year long, every day, there is a particular focus that Good Friday brings to the Easter celebration. Good Friday kicks off the most momentous historical weekend of the year; Good Friday is the reason we have a resurrection Easter celebration. Ever since the historical Friday that Jesus died on the cross for our sins as an innocent man, a perfect substitution and payment for the price of sin, Christians have proclaimed His resurrection far and wide.
God made sure that His Word recorded the history and proclaimed truth for millions to read and come to faith by in the years to follow. Good Friday was the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the suffering servant who would be the Messiah, the one true King who would bring lasting peace. We didn’t have to beg Jesus to do this for us, He came as a willing servant and saved us while we were still sinners. He asked for nothing from us except faith, which is also a gift of grace from the Holy Spirit. Even when he was mocked on the cross, Jesus extended forgiveness and grace to the men on either side of Him--one of which would see Him in paradise that very day. Good Friday is good because the dark day of suffering and death is followed by glorious victory of resurrection and eternal life.
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Good Friday Futures Dates:
April 15, 2022
April 7, 2023
March 29, 2024
April 18, 2025
April 3, 2026
Why Is it Called Good Friday?
“Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins. In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. ...In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Paradoxically, the day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage. ...Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so Good.”
-Excerpted fromWhat’s So Good about Good Friday?By Justin Holcomb
Where Does the Bible Talk about Jesus’ Death?
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.” -Acts 2:22-32
What Happened on Good Friday?
Good Friday is Day 6 of Holy Week:
This is the day Jesus was delivered over to Pilate the governor of Judaea. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was King of the Jews, He responded that Pilate had said so. Still, Pilate believed Jesus had done nothing deserving of death and tried to free Him by asking the people which prisoner they wanted released (as was custom)—but the people shouted Barabbas. Even at the urging of his wife not to harm this man because of a dream she had, Pilate continued on in the death proceedings. Jesus was beaten, mocked, and crucified—but there was something different about His death.
Mark 15:37-39 states,
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God!'” -Excerpted fromThe 8 Days of Easterby Liz Kanoy
Good Friday Facts
-The Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead and had Him arrested for heresy (Matt. 26:59-69).
-Jesus was sentenced to a Roman crucifixion death by Pontius Pilate (Matt. 27:24-26).
-The crucifixion death sentence was seen as a barbaric death reserved only for the worst criminals (biblicalarchaeology.org).
-Pilate gave the people an opportunity to set Jesus free, but the crowd stirred up by Jewish leaders according to God’s sovereign plan asked for a hardened violent criminal to be set free instead (Mark 15:6-15).
-Jesus walked humbly to the cross without complaint or defense (Luke 23:28-31).
-Roman soldiers gambled for His clothes as He was nailed to the cross (Matt. 27:35).
-Jesus' mother Mary, two other Mary's including Mary Magdalene, and Jesus' disciple John remained at the cross and witnessed the crucifixion, while others watched from afar (John 19:25-27, Luke 23:48-29).
-The Roman soldiers did not break His legs as was customary to speed of the dying process; instead, they punctured His side with a spear, but He was already dead (John 19:32-37).
-The earth shook, the sky turned dark, and the curtain in the temple was torn (Matt. 27:45-56).
-Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph Arimathea upon Joseph’s request (John 19:38-42).
-Roman soldiers and a heavy stone stood guard before the tomb (Matt. 27:62-66).
-Women disciples went to the tomb to anoint the body with spices and oils, but they were met by an angel and Mary Magdalene by the resurrected Jesus Himself (Mark 16:10).
-Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday fulfilling what He had promised days earlier (John 20:14-31).
Related: 10 Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ
How Is Good Friday Celebrated?
“Observe Jesus’ crucifixion by reading the Biblical account together. Sing old hymns of the Crucifixion and the Cross: “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Most Catholic churches offer Stations of the Cross, fourteen plaques circling the interior walls which depict the final hours of Jesus’ life. You may want to visit and contemplate these, one by one.” -Excerpted from15 Ways to Observe Holy Week with Your Familyby Barbara Curtis
A Good Friday Devotional
“Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10
Of all the powerful verses in the Bible, this one brings me to my knees. How much does God the Father love us? Enough to sacrifice His only Son. I love you, dear friend, but I could never give up my only son, or my only daughter, for your sake. I’m sure you feel the same. Even so, “it pleased the LORD to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10a, KJ21). That’s right: God the Father “wanted to crush him and to make him suffer” (CEB). Why? Because the atoning death of His Son would bring salvation to His children. That means salvation to you and to me and to all who know Him as Savior and Lord.
Today’s verse continues, “… and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin …” (Isaiah 53:10b, NIV). Not only was God the Father willing to crush His Son, the Son was also willing to be crushed. Our staggering debt of sin — past, present and still to come — was paid in full when Jesus put Himself “in sin’s dark place, in the pit of wrongdoing” (VOICE). Separated from His Father, He was forsaken for our sake. And because of His sacrifice on the first Good Friday, grace poured out like living water, bringing the gift of forgiveness to a hurting, dying, sin-filled world. But there’s more, beloved. So much more. Then came Easter morning and the angel’s shout of triumph: “He has risen!” (Luke 24:6b, NIV) Not only did He set us free from the penalty of sin, but He also gave us the assurance of eternal life. In the same way Christ rose from the dead, so will we. Just imagine it!
-Excerpted and adapted from the Encouragement for Today devotional “Thank God It’s (Good) Friday” by Liz Curtis Higgs
A Good Friday Prayer
Lord God, Jesus cried out to you on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” You seemed so far from his cry and from his distress. Those who stood at the foot of the cross Wondered where you were, as they saw Jesus mocked and shamed and killed. Where were you then? Lord God, we, too, ask where you are, When there is trouble and suffering and death, And we cry out to you for help. Be near to us, and save us So that we may praise you for your deliverance. Lord God, we wait, on Friday, for the resurrection of Sunday and sometimes our lives seem a succession of Fridays and we cannot see what is “Good.” Teach us to call your name as Jesus did. Make us to trust in you like little children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
-Excerpted from8 Prayers to Pray Each Day of Holy Weekby Rachel Marie Stone
Romans 5:6-10 - "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Javier Art Photography
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