Bible Trivia

Why is Good Friday called “Good” when it marks Jesus’ crucifixion?

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Your Bible trivia questions answered by Phil Logos...

Why is Good Friday called “Good” when it marks Jesus’ crucifixion?


Good Friday is a day of immense religious significance for Christians across the world. It marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, an event central to the Christian faith. Many people find the term “Good Friday” perplexing, as it seems to contrast with the sombre and sorrowful nature of the day. How can the crucifixion of Jesus, a painful and torturous event, be labelled as “good”? To answer this question, we need to delve into the etymology, historical context, and theological significance of Good Friday.

Etymology and Historical Context

The word “good” in Good Friday has its roots in the Old English word “gōd,” which can be translated to mean “holy” or “pious.” Over time, the meaning of the word has evolved, and today, “good” is primarily used to denote something that is morally right, beneficial, or desirable. Thus, the original meaning of Good Friday was more akin to “Holy Friday,” reflecting the sanctity of the day rather than suggesting a positive or enjoyable event.

Interestingly, in many other languages, the term for Good Friday carries a more sombre connotation. For example, in German, it is called “Karfreitag,” which translates to “Mourning Friday.” Similarly, in Spanish and Italian, it is “Viernes Santo” and “Venerdì Santo,” respectively, both meaning “Holy Friday.” These names emphasize the solemnity of the day, focusing on the religious significance rather than the positive outcome.

Theological Significance

To understand why Good Friday is considered “good” in the theological sense, we must first understand the central narrative of Christianity. According to Christian belief, humanity’s original sin, stemming from Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, separated humans from God. This separation made it impossible for people to achieve salvation through their own actions. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sent to Earth to atone for humanity’s sins through his sacrificial death on the cross. This act of selfless love and sacrifice opened the door for reconciliation between God and humanity, offering salvation to all who believe in Jesus.

In this context, the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday signifies the ultimate act of divine love and mercy. Although it involved immense suffering, it ultimately led to the redemption of humanity. It is this redemptive aspect of Jesus’ crucifixion that makes Good Friday “good” for believers.

The Crucifixion as a Turning Point

Good Friday also represents a turning point in human history. Before the crucifixion, the relationship between God and humanity was strained, and the possibility of salvation seemed remote. Jesus’ death on the cross marked a shift in this relationship, as it signified the fulfilment of God’s promise to save humanity from sin. Christians view the crucifixion as a pivotal event that paved the way for hope and renewal, ultimately leading to the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Good Friday and the Paradox of the Cross

Another reason the term “Good Friday” is fitting lies in the paradox of the cross. The crucifixion was a brutal and humiliating form of punishment, designed to serve as a deterrent for would-be criminals. However, in Christianity, the cross has become a powerful symbol of hope, faith, and salvation. The transformation of the cross from a symbol of shame and suffering into one of redemption and triumph underscores the redemptive power of Jesus’ sacrifice.

In conclusion, the term “Good Friday” may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but it reflects the profound theological significance and redemptive power of Jesus’ crucifixion. By understanding the historical and religious context, we can appreciate why this sombre day is considered “good” in the Christian tradition.

The Universality of Good Friday’s Message

While Good Friday is primarily a Christian observance, the message of love, sacrifice, and redemption that it carries transcends religious boundaries. The idea of overcoming adversity and transforming pain into something positive resonates deeply with people of various faiths and beliefs. As such, Good Friday serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, hope and renewal can emerge.

Personal Reflection and the Role of Empathy

Good Friday also offers an opportunity for personal reflection and growth. By contemplating the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, believers are encouraged to develop empathy and compassion for others. This increased understanding can lead to acts of kindness and a greater sense of community, as individuals strive to emulate Jesus’ selflessness and love. In this way, Good Friday contributes to the betterment of society as a whole.

Fasting, Prayer, and Acts of Penance

The observance of Good Friday typically involves fasting, prayer, and acts of penance, as Christians seek to honour Jesus’ sacrifice and draw closer to God. These practices can serve as a means of self-discipline, fostering spiritual growth and deepening one’s connection with the divine. Through fasting and prayer, believers can develop a greater appreciation for the blessings in their lives, while acts of penance can help them confront and overcome their own shortcomings.

The Connection to Easter Sunday

Although Good Friday is a day of mourning and reflection, it is inextricably linked to the joy and celebration of Easter Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus, which is commemorated on Easter, signifies the triumph of life over death, hope over despair, and love over hatred. By enduring the crucifixion and rising from the dead, Jesus demonstrated the transformative power of faith and the promise of eternal life for those who believe in him.

This connection between Good Friday and Easter Sunday underscores the notion that suffering and joy are often intertwined in the human experience. Just as the crucifixion ultimately led to the resurrection, moments of pain and difficulty can give way to growth and triumph. In this sense, the story of Good Friday serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for redemption.


The term “Good Friday” may seem paradoxical, but it reflects the profound theological significance of Jesus’ crucifixion and its transformative impact on the relationship between God and humanity. By examining the historical, linguistic, and religious context of the day, we can better understand why Good Friday is indeed considered “good.”

As a day of mourning, reflection, and ultimately, hope, Good Friday carries a message that transcends religious boundaries and speaks to the universal human experience. By contemplating the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, believers and non-believers alike can find inspiration in the enduring themes of love, redemption, and the triumph of good over evil. In this way, Good Friday serves not only as a cornerstone of the Christian faith but also as a testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and embrace the promise of renewal.