The Goodness of Good Friday

Geoff Hensley

November 21, 2016, started off like another normal Monday for me -- until my dad called to tell me that my mom had suddenly passed away. I had just spoken to her the night before. We had talked about my upcoming trip home for Thanksgiving, and her birthday that was just a few days away.

That day my dad called, my world changed. Someone I loved so dearly had died and I had never really considered what life would be like without her. I was left sitting at work, 1,000 miles away from my family, unsure of what to do next. I had no idea where to go, what to do, or who to share this news with. I was overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed was not a feeling I often experienced. Sure, there were stressors and hard circumstances along the way, but I rarely felt overwhelmed to the point of shutting down or shutting out others. The death of my mother, however, created a sharp void in my life. I could not express my pain or sense of loss until very recently. While reading the words of David in Psalm 51, I found myself pleading like he did when he cried out, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” For more than a year, I was those crushed bones. I didn’t understand why she had died and I felt a need to understand.

Permission to grieve

Throughout this season of seeking and hurting and yearning to understand, I’ve been forced to slow down. In the slowness, I’ve found the time to start grieving.

Right after I found out my mom died, I didn’t grieve. Instead, I tried to remain strong and hold it all together for the benefit of others. Yet grieving is a natural and even necessary part of being a human. Even Jesus wept. After Jesus showed up at one of His best friend’s funerals, He wept and grieved with the other mourners. Jesus grieved, even knowing He was about to raise his friend, Lazarus, from the dead.

These two words, “Jesus wept,” give us permission to grieve. They show us how Jesus modeled healthy grieving for us, and remind us to weep in our sorrows.

Why this matters

The words from Isaiah 53 recently began playing over and over in my mind, serenading my soul: “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer. It was the LORD’s will … to crush Him.”

On Good Friday, Jesus died. For the disciples of Jesus, Good Friday was a day of grieving and weeping. They lost their friend. They also lost their hopes for the future with that friend. That’s part of what we all suffer when we lose loved ones and experience grief. It’s not just the friend we’ve lost in the present, but it’s also all the dashed hopes for a future we would have shared together.

On Good Friday, Jesus was crushed for my sin. He was pierced for my transgressions. He was punished for every wicked inclination of my heart. He carried every one of my sorrows and every ounce of my spiritual sickness. My sin required the suffering of His soul. He died for me. He died because of me.

It is a day to remember the grief of the disciples for the friend they lost. At the same time, Good Friday is “good,” because it is the day that the nature of grief changed forever. Isaiah 25 tells us that God “will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” We know now that Jesus died on Good Friday, then rose again on Easter. And we know now that Jesus rose again so that he could make us alive in Christ and raise us with him.

On Good Friday, we learn that we no longer have to grieve the loss of a future without a loved one, because we know that Jesus himself died and rose again -- so that death would not be the final note.

We will still grieve during times of sorrow. It is hard and it hurts to lose a loved one. The void they leave is real. It’s good to grieve, and it’s good to grieve with others when they are hurting. Because of Good Friday and because of Easter, we thank God that we can show the depth of our sorrow, even while knowing that the resurrection life is just around the corner.