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Good Friday is a terrible day. If you’ve seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” you know it’s the day in which Jesus was treated terribly – betrayed, humiliated, repudiated, and then killed in a public execution reserved for the worst criminals of His day. So, what’s so good about it?

“For so many years, I wondered why Good Friday was named as such,” writes Arrianne Segerman for the (In)Courage website. “I couldn’t really wrap my brain around what was so good about it. I felt terrible every single time I would see a Cross re-enactment play. I would make it so real in my mind, and it was so hard to watch. I would sob seeing Jesus go through what he went through. I kept asking myself: Why were we calling the death of Jesus’ good’?

She continued, “Growing up, I attended various Good Friday church services where the mood was so very solemn. Sad, mournful and full of regret, I would walk with my head down to my seat in the pew. And I get that sentiment; I really do. I understand the sacrifice was because of my sin. I’ve been taught all the horrible things Jesus had to endure before his death. But I don’t hang my head anymore. Now I know why Good Friday is so very, very good.” Here are some things that you may not have known about Good Friday.

Good Friday was planned.

From the beginning of time, God knew what was going to happen. He prepared a way. He poured himself into flesh as the solution for all of it. We know all this already, right? But what I think is sometimes missing from the Good Friday services is that one simple phrase: ‘It is finished.’

When Jesus became the atonement, it was all done. All that was yet left undone became done. His death was the trigger, the catalyst, for these cataclysmic events to come. The resurrection, pentecost, the Lord’s return. Once that death happened, everything else was done in God’s eyes. It began our call to Kingdom and to look forward. He wanted us to look ahead to His resurrection. He wanted us to look ahead to His return. He made it all complete, and there was no need to feel incomplete ever again. Death no longer has victory over our souls because it is finished. Sin is no longer what we are painted with when God looks at us because it is finished.

It’s the only day Catholics don’t celebrate Mass.

On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Holy Communion is not consecrated on Good Friday. However, some are kept on hand from a service the day before and distributed during the service. Other usual sacraments are allowed in case of emergency, such as the baptism of someone who is in danger of imminent death or the anointing of someone who is very ill. Catholic funerals held on Good Friday have no singing, music or the tolling of bells, according to Jimmy Akin, writing for the National Catholic Register.

Jesus was betrayed twice.

First, Judas Iscariot accepted 30 pieces of silver to take Jesus’ enemies to the quiet place in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus often prayed at night. Judas then changed his mind but could not undo his betrayal. So, he hung himself. Only hours later, Peter the apostle was asked if he was a follower of Jesus. Scared, he denied it. Again, he was asked, and he proclaimed that he didn’t know Jesus. When asked a third time, he cursed aloud and shouted that he was not a follower of the arrested criminal suspect. As he shouted the words, Jesus was led through the courtroom and looked up at Peter, His face stricken by the denial of one of His most faithful followers.

Peter’s Good Friday betrayal changed him.

Horrified at his cowardice, Peter wept bitter tears and repented. He was forgiven and went on to become one of the greatest evangelists in history. He preached the first altar call – in such a powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost that 3,000 people responded and were baptized. He then became one of the great leaders of the early church and, according to the Catholic church, was martyred in Rome. When the Romans began to nail him to the cross, Peter told them he was unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus.

So, the soldiers mockingly crucified him upside down. For hundreds of years, persecuted Christians quietly tended his gravesite, and when Christianity was finally legalized during the reign of Emperor Constantine, Peter’s bones were disinterred, and the great cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica, was built over them. Today, the Vatican has what they believe are his remains, found several years ago in a simple crypt deep below the great cathedral’s altar.

Don’t eat between noon and 3 p.m. on Good Friday.

Fasting and abstinence are traditional on Good Friday, writes Akin. Why? Because this was a day when God Almighty living among us was betrayed, humiliated, tortured, repudiated by the crowds that had cheered him only days before, then killed as a common criminal. Tradition has it that Jesus hung on the cross from noon until 3 p.m. This was a terrible three hours during which humanity turned its back on the Savior of the World. This was humanity’s lowest moment in history. God sent us redemption. We shrugged it off. To remember those terrible three hours, many abstain from enjoyable things and do not eat anything. Why? To remember. To mourn. To be sorry for all the times we each have failed to stand up for what is right or to declare that we believe in Jesus and embrace Him as our Savior.

In Catholic churches, writes Akin, since the mass is not celebrated, what does happen? In the ceremony known as the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, there is Bible reading, a time for members of the congregation to touch the cross and pray. Then, there is a communion service using bread and wine saved from a service the previous day. While some services take place after 3 p.m., the Catholic “Paschales Solemnitatis” notes: “The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is to take place in the afternoon, at about three o’clock.” The time that seems most appropriate for pastoral reasons will be chosen in order to allow the people to assemble more efficiently, for example, shortly after midday or in the late evening, however not later than nine o’clock.

Death is conquered, and He has risen.

And remember that this is, indeed, “Good” Friday. “I don’t have to walk in shame or feel anything but a daughter of the Most High God because it is finished,” writes Segerman. “You who walk in the shadows, come forth because it is finished. The Enemy may try to influence me and you, to sway us, but he can never win. Never. I don’t feel sad on Good Friday anymore,” writes Segerman. “I humbly receive the Lord’s gift with gratitude, stand looking high in awe and wonder. At the deep meaning of his death being so innocent, so holy, and so pure that it covered every human ever. Even me. Especially me. Especially you. He is risen!”

Many people may see Good Friday as a somber day. However, perhaps there's another perspective to consider. Yes, Jesus was betrayed, crucified, and died on Good Friday, but if it weren't for the events of that day, He would've never risen from the tomb and ascended to heaven. With these thoughts in mind, perhaps we should consider Good Friday a happy day because it's the day Jesus fulfilled His purpose.

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