Folks often ask: “Why Good Friday?” Why not Easter Sunday? Why not Christmas? Or Pentecost? These are all really important Biblical events in the Christian calendar–not to mention their importance to the church–but, once again: Why choose Good Friday, the day Our Lord chose to die for us? There are several initial reasons.
To begin with, Christmas, Easter and Pentecost tend to be regarded as “feasts” or days of celebration, and sometimes the message can be lost in the process of the celebration. Take a good look at Christmas and the overwhelming commercialism and it becomes evident that gift-giving and feasting are often at the heart of most of the season’s activities.
Meanwhile, Easter, which is by far the holiest of seasons and the very center piece of the Christian faith, has been reduced to chocolate bunnies and Easter Egg hunts. The meaning of the holiday is often buried under the banner of Spring as advertisements beg us to purchase bright new clothes as we shed our heavy Winter garments in anticipation of warmer weather. And no one takes Easter break; it’s Spring Break and a time of revelry on many college campuses.
By contrast, things like Lent, the days of Holy Week–Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are typically marked with somberness and fasting, with Good Friday being the most somber of them all, and thus making them easy to ignore all together by the general populace.
And yet, if we look at the scriptures, Good Friday is the pinnacle of Jesus’ ministry and His life on earth. It is the number one, primary main reason as to why He had to come and live among us. Consider John 3:16-17:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
And those are Jesus’ words. Look at what St. Paul says as concerns his message of salvation to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2:1- 2:
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Christ and Him crucified.”
And earlier in the same book, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1: 23:
“but we preach Christ crucified.”
So the entire ministry of Christ, our testimony as Christians, rests on this one great sacrificial act that goes beyond all other acts of mercy recorded in the Bible. It is THE greatest act of love shown to us by God through Jesus’ intense and excruciating suffering. He traded places with us. He took our punishment and bore it in full and in exchange we get His righteousness and eternal life.
…and all because of the events of that first Good Friday.
And why at 5:15 PM? Because the deed is done. It is finished. Christ lies in the tomb awaiting Easter morning. So, too, do the all of the visitors to the set of “Good Friday At 5:15 PM” wait. So, some ask, why not give them the joy they seek? —the wonderful message of life after the grave through the glory of the risen Christ?
Because “Good Friday At 5:15 PM” seeks to lock the visitor into that time slot in history where that completed sacrifice stares them square in the face. Let the visitors be moved again and again by the words of those in Jerusalem who either saw what happened or participated in the Gospel narrative. May the story come alive through the performance of the actors and actresses and allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those who need to really look hard at what happened to bring salvation to all people for all time and turn to Him who died for them.
Yes, Christ’s Resurrection is coming, but we have to pass through the sad and dark doorway of Good Friday to get to it.