Of the many Christian holidays, Good Friday is one of the oft-ignored, so it would be beneficial to write about the holiday and its purpose.
Christians celebrate Good Friday because it commemorates the day Jesus was crucified and precedes Easter Sunday. Orthodox and Catholic Chrisitans normally hold special services on Good Friday, and fasting rules are often stricter to account for the sorrowful occasion.
The children of Israel were subjected to cruel life under Pharaoh’s rule. They were the workhorse of Egypt, a land with foreign gods. As heavy loads and whips were placed on their backs, witnessing idol worship broke their spirit. They were captives, slaves and used to sweat all day.
Looking back to the Garden of Eden, sweat was a sign of the fall from God’s grace, eventually leading to death.
However, Just as ‘God found a sacrifice’ for Adam and Eve and killed the animal to cover Adam and Eve’s shame, even so, did God promise to deliver the children of Israel and eventually the whole world.
“The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs” – Exodus 12:5-9.
The Passover lamb was a ransom of the male firstborn of the Israelites whilst in Egypt. The Lamp was without blemish and none of its bones was broken. The lamp was a male of the first year. Every first-fruit belongs to God, which means the lamb belonged to God. The lamb was to be roasted whole and eaten whole.
When God saw the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, as the Israelites feasted on the roasted lamb in their houses, God passed over the house and the household was saved.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come, you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance”-Exodus 12:14.
To this day, the Jews celebrate the Passover, every spring, as a remembrance of how God took their forefathers out of Egypt. They eat unleavened bread which means it does not have any yeast; they drink the four cups of redemption, celebrate, praise God, and read scriptures.
At the end of the Passover meal in every Jewish home, they will gather in front of their main door and send the youngest child, to open the door for Elijah, who is coming with the messiah. This ritual is symbolic, of the long wait for the messiah which is connected to the Passover.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45
Most of us know about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, as the King of Israel, the Messiah. It is also important to point out that, Jesus was entering Jerusalem during his triumphant entry for the Passover.
As the people were bringing in their Passover lamb for sacrifice in the temple, even so, God was bringing his lamb that will take away the sins of the world.
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”-Zachariah 9:9.
The blood of bulls and goats offered by the Israelites as atonement for their sin, could not make them pure, just cover. However, God told Adam that He had found a sacrifice for them, God is perfect, and can He find an imperfect sacrifice? The bulls and rituals done during Passover were symbolic of a greater sacrifice that God had promised would be revealed in the future.
“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins”– Hebrews 10-4.
That perfect sacrifice that God had found was Jesus.
“Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them, then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” –Hebrews 10:8-10.
Just as the Passover lamb was a male of the first year, Jesus was the firstborn, the seed of a woman, born of a virgin, and a great sign that He was the Passover lamb.
He had no earthly Father, God was His father.
Just as the Passover Lamb was to be kept in the temple, Jesus spent most of His time in the temple teaching, hence known as a ‘Good Rabbi’.
Every household had to take in the Passover Lamb for about a week and spend time with it in their house, examining their sacrifice for defects and blemish, Jesus lived and walked among sinners, answering questions and being tested by man. His disciples testified that He was without sin.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
As the Children of Israel celebrate the Passover and eat unleavened bread and drink wine, Christians during Good Friday partake of ‘Holy Communion that reminds them of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day”-John 6:54
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed”– Isaiah 53:5.
His body was sinless but was broken for sinners whose bodies suffered the judgment of sin inform of sicknesses.
“Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed”-1 Corinthians 5:7.
The children of Israel eat manna in the wilderness and unleavened bread during the Passover, Jesus is the true bread that gives life.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven” – John 6:32.
Crucifixion was the Roman capital punishment at the time of Jesus and required that the bones of those crucified be broken.
More specifically, the knee bones, as the condemned hanged on the tree, breaking their knees will cause them to die a long excruciating death as they gasped for air. However, when it came to Jesus, none of His bones were broken by the Roman soldier, a miracle. Just as the instructions by Moses that none of the bones of the Passover Lamb were to be broken. However, His skin was torn and the bones made visible, some dislocated but none was broken. The Roman soldier tasked with breaking the knee bones, instead opted to pierce the side of Jesus where blood and water came gashing out.
Just as the Passover Lamb was roasted as a whole in the fire, Jesus came under God’s fiery judgment against sin. John the beloved records that He has feet as those refined in the fire.
“His feet were like fine brass as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters” – Revelation 1:15
During the Jewish Passover, the Afikomen, which is a piece of Matzah bread that was broken from a whole piece, hidden away is brought back to the table. Just as Jesus who is the bread of life was broken and hidden in the belly of the earth of 3 days and nights, is brought back to life by God.
Therefore Christians celebrate Good Friday to remember Jesus’ death and on Easter Monday they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as Moses commanded the children of Israel to keep the Passover, Jesus also commanded his disciples to partake in the Holy Communion as a remembrance of His death and resurrection.
For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” – Luke 22:18-20.
Just as the Jews keep the Passover and long for the second coming of Elijah with the Messiah, Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter, as an outward appreciation of God’s mercy and longing for the Second coming of Jesus Christ.
The Good Friday and Easter Celebrations among Christians are very important as it reminds them of their salvation. It is a season of appreciation and remembrance. Here is a rundown of points of Good Friday celebrations among Christians.
- Christians are commanded in scripture to take part in the Holy Communion as a remembrance of Jesus Death and resurrection
- Christians celebrate Good Friday as an appreciation to God for loving sinners and giving His Son as a sacrifice.
- Good Friday is a time to gather with fellow Christians as scriptures advise them not to forsake the gathering of the brethren.
- Good Friday is a celebration to Christians as it commemorates the end of their salary to sin.