Dear Dr. Graham:

Why do they call the day on which Jesus was crucified “Good Friday”? What was good about it? I think we ought to call it “black Friday” or something like that.

— Z.McG.

Dear Z. McG.: If you had spoken with Jesus’ family and followers on that Friday I suspect they would have agreed with you. Then all hope seemed lost; Satan and his servants seemed to have won; evil and death seemed to have triumphed.

But if you had spoken with them only a few days later, you would have heard something entirely different! Then they knew all was not lost; Satan and his servants had not won; evil and death had not triumphed. In fact, the opposite was the case: The forces of evil had been defeated, death had been destroyed, and from that point onward human life would never be the same.

What made the difference? The difference was twofold: Jesus’ tomb was empty, and he had appeared to them. In other words, Jesus had broken the bonds of death, and now he was alive! And suddenly they realized that what had seemed at first to be a defeat was in fact a victory — a victory over Satan and sin and death. The Bible says, “You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death. ... But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 2:23-24).

Why is it called “Good Friday”? Because by his death, Jesus became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. We cannot erase our guilt, nor can we overcome our sins by our good deeds. But Christ did what we could never do for ourselves, by dying for us on that first Good Friday. May this day truly become “Good Friday” for you, as you confess your sins and put your faith and trust in Christ.