Q: #453. Why is Good Friday called "good?"
A: Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday, and the day Jesus was crucified on the cross (proof here). However, while it has been called Good Friday for centuries, no one seems to know exactly why we (English speaking people) call it “Good” Friday. This being the case (of course…..), theories abound. Two of the more popular are: (1.) that “good” in Old English used to be equivalent to “holy,” therefore it should be “Holy Friday,” (2.) “Good” and “God” sometimes got interchanged for one another in the past (i.e. Good-bye comes from “God be with you”), so it should be “God Friday.”
There is no evidence for either of these theories. Linguists have tried to trace these back with no success. In many countries, they do not use the term “Good Friday.” For example, in Spanish it is called “Viernes Santo,” and in Italian “Venerdi Santo,” both meaning “Holy Friday.” In German it is called Karfreitag, meaning “Sorrowful Friday,” which seems most appropriate.
Since there is no clear explanation as to why we use “Good,” here is how I like to think of it. Do you know what the Greek word euaggelion means? It is the word we use for the “Gospel.” Its literal translation is the “Good News.” What is this “good” news? At the heart of the Gospel is what happened on that Friday, and the Sunday which followed. On Friday, that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of all mankind, and through faith in Him, we can be forgiven of our sins and go to Heaven one day. On Sunday (Easter), that He arose from the dead (the Resurrection).
Without the cross, which happened on “Good Friday,” there could be no “Gospel” or “Good News.” Therefore, the “Good Shepherd” (Jn 10:11,14) and “Good Master” (Mt 19:16)(Mk 10:17)(Lk 18:18) gave His life on the cross on “Good Friday” so that we can share the “Good News.” The “Good” in Good Friday is all about Jesus, who He is and what He has done.