Good Friday Devotion
BY SUNNY AHN
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” - Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)
Holy Friday or Good Friday is the day commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion and death upon the cross. I learned Holy Friday is called “Good Friday” for the first time when I came to America at age fifteen. This day is the darkest and saddest day of the year for all followers of Jesus Christ. However, in America, this day is called “Good Friday.” I wondered why this day is called “Good Friday.”
I’ve learned that there are several theories why this day is called Good Friday. For example, this day is called “Karfreitag” in German, meaning “Sorrowful Friday.” However, some believe that the English words “Good Friday” are derived from “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the theories and beliefs of the world, I believe that this day is “Good Friday” for those sinners such as I. Yes, it is the saddest day as we commemorate our Lord’s crucifixion and death on this day. However, it is “Good Friday” for us because it is the dramatic climax of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.
Even more significant about this day is that Jesus carried the cross willingly to gift me “Good Friday.” He subjected himself to public mockery, severe beatings, and one of the most horrific deaths the world has ever devised. As the Son of God, he didn’t have to endure anything; he wasn’t a prisoner of the Roman soldiers any more than he allowed himself to be for gifting us with “Good Friday.” Even in those last excruciating hours nailed to the cross, he could have opted out, but he endured the cross willingly to gift us with “Good Friday.”
This “Good Friday” to us refutes Aristotle’s ‘theory of happiness without pain.’ Indeed! No one welcomes the pain of illness or the pain of a car accident. No one enjoys seeing loved ones in pain or losing loved ones. As creatures of comfort, we try to avoid both physical and emotional pain whenever possible. I believe that’s a good thing usually, as all humanity was designed to value life and preserve ourselves.
However, the Bible tells us to take up the cross and follow Jesus. On the first “Good Friday,” Simon from Cyrene had other things to do that day rather than get personally involved in Jesus’ scandalous crucifixion. His plans and agenda were interrupted when he was ordered to carry the bloody cross for Jesus (Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26). It was hard work, bloody, and humiliating, but he carried the cross for Christ and walked with him in Jesus’ most difficult hours. He became part of God’s salvation ministry, offering a “Good Friday” gift to the world.
The happiness of “Good Friday” does not exclude pain; it transcends pain. Good Friday is the day that gifts the happiness of “Good Friday”—the joy of salvation—to us and our neighbors by Jesus willingly taking up the painful cross. God doesn’t force us to follow Jesus. He doesn’t put the cross on us but asks us to pick it up willingly. However, Jesus showed us how to present the happiness of “Good Friday” to our neighbors, and that goes beyond pain. It’s about taking up the painful cross willingly for others.
Today, on Good Friday, I pray that we will create time to reflect on the meaning of “Good Friday” that Jesus gifted us so that we will be able to share the happiness of “Good Friday” with our neighbors.
God, today is Holy Friday, but it is “Good Friday” for me. I rethink the gift of “Good Friday”—the joy of salvation received through Jesus’ crucifixion and death. I thank Jesus for bearing the cross for me. I thank God for bearing the pain of his son’s death for me. I’ve decided to share the happiness of “Good Friday” that I received with my neighbors. Grant me courage and patience to bear the pain of the cross for my neighbor. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Sunny Ahn, Kona United Methodist Church, Hawaii
Verses marked NIV are from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.