Holy Week Devotional: Good Friday
On Good Friday, we see the ultimate sacrifice by Jesus.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
READING: Good Friday The Ultimate Sacrifice (John 18:1–11 and 19:16–30 (optional: read all of John 18-19))
It may seem strange to call this day “Good Friday,” because nothing that happened on it seems very good. Betrayal, denial, false accusations, a sham of a trial, a bloodthirsty crowd, beatings, mocking, a crown of thorns, and an excruciating death on a cross. All for a completely innocent man. But we call it “good” because of what this day did for mankind.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Hebrews describes Christ’s death as the ultimate sacrifice. The once-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of all sins of all mankind over all the world for all time (Hebrews 10:12). As terrible as this moment was for Jesus, it is good newsfor the world.
In the ancient world, the cross was a symbol of shame. In Rome, only criminals and slaves endured death by the cross. As Paul wrote in Galatians, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole” (Galatians 3:13). Hanging on a cross was considered one of the most humiliating and shameful things a person could ever endure. And yet, the God of the universe endured this most humiliating of deaths . . . for us. Because of His great love.
The writer of Hebrews says Jesus endured the shame of the cross “for the joy set before him.” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured all of this for the joy of being in heaven with you and with me. What makes Good Friday good is not the events that happened, but what those events make possible. Because Jesus died, we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. Because He rose again, one day we will rise with Him (Romans 6:8).
Reflect on the Ultimate Sacrifice
We may well have to go through hard things on this earth. We may have our own crosses to bear (Matthew 16:24). When we go through difficult times, Peter encourages us to think like Jesus and endure it by looking forward to the hope of our future inheritance in heaven—“an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). Just as Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him, we can endure the hard times we experience for the joy set before us. Who knows what may happen in our lives, even in the next few weeks? Who knows what hard things we may have to endure? But we can trust in the eternal promises of God and endure with the hope and joy that are made possible through the suffering Jesus endured on Good Friday.
Q: Spend some time today reflecting on all Christ endured on Good Friday to accomplish His mission of saving us from our sins. Take a few minutes just to sit in that hard time and imagine what it must have been like for Him to endure all that suffering. Then take some time to thank Him for all that He has done for you and for the world!
Q: What difficult things have you gone through? How has God used them to bring joy and thankfulness into your life?
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Fasting
It is a long-held tradition in the history of the church to fast on Good Friday. Fasting is an ancient spiritual practice that helps us to remove distraction, provides more time to prayer and Scripture, and affirms that the Lord is all we need. When we give up food (or something else, if fasting is not safe for them), it is a way of saying to God that He is our daily bread, even more important to our lives than food.
To practice fasting today, simply abstain from your regular meals. (Check with your doctor first to make sure fasting is safe for you. Fasting can be detrimental for children, nursing mothers, the sick, and the elderly. If your doctor thinks fasting is a risk, try either a modified fast of eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, or fasting from other things like television, a favorite hobby, or social media. The thing you fast from isn’t as important as choosing to give up something that is an important part of your daily routine, to show God that He is your daily bread.) During the times you ordinarily would eat, spend extra time in prayer, Bible study, and meditation on the sacrifice Christ made on the cross for you.
ADDITIONAL READING: Good Friday The Ultimate Sacrifice
To read more about Good Friday and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made, read the following scriptures:
Psalm 22; Matthew 16:24–26; Hebrews 10:16–25; 1 Peter 1:3–12