What Is the Origin of Good Friday?
Every year Christians around the world participate in a week-long celebration called “Holy Week.” Holy Week is a week that prepares all Christians throughout the world for Easter Sunday or better known as Resurrection Sunday. It is also the week in which Christians recount and remember the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
However, what today’s Christians call “Good Friday” is very misinterpreted and lacking biblical coherence. From this point on let us understand the origins of “Good Friday” and whether it is really that good.
Why Is It “Good Friday” and Not “Good Thursday” Or “Good Wednesday”?
The first misunderstanding about this day is exactly that, the day. Jesus was crucified on a Friday in the year AD 30. This does not mean that we should commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus every year on a Friday. The only reason Jesus was crucified on a Friday 2,000 years ago was because Passover took place on Thursday. That’s right! It has nothing to do with the fact that it was Friday. If Passover had taken place on a Monday, then Jesus would have been crucified on a Tuesday. If Passover would have taken place on a Wednesday, then Jesus would have been crucified on a Thursday. I can imagine some people reading this might be confused, so allow me to expound on this.
The events that took place during the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ were already prophesied long ago in the Old Testament. Jesus explained this to the people at that time.
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
John 5:46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.
Based on the two verses above, we can understand that Moses wrote about Jesus in the first five books of the Bible containing the law. This helps us understand that there are prophecies about Jesus Christ in the feasts of God, which are described in the book of Leviticus.
Prophecy About Jesus Contained in the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread.
Leviticus 23:4-5 “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins…
God established the dates of the feasts based on the events that took place during the Exodus. The Israelites who were in slavery were delivered from slavery through the power of the Passover (Exodus 12:14). At that time, the people of Israel celebrated the Passover and were released from their bondage in Egypt. However, after the Pharaoh let them go he realized what he had done and decided to chase the Israelites. The Israelites suffered during this time because the Red Sea was in front of them and the Egyptian Army was behind them, they felt they had nowhere to go (Exodus 14:4-13). Finally, God showed his power by dividing the Red Sea in front of them, and allowing them to cross safely on dry ground. After they finished crossing, God buried the Egyptian army in the water (Exodus 14:21-27).
God had the people of Israel commemorate these days every year by eating unleavened bread for seven days from the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day of the same month (Exodus 12:18). God did this so that the people of Israel would not forget God’s power and remember the sufferings they experienced from the Exodus on the Passover night to the Red Sea (Exodus 13:7-8). During this feast, God had them eat bitter herbs and unleavened bread, that they might remember their sufferings. This unleavened bread was called the bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3).
Fulfillment of the Prophecy in the Feast of the Passover
These feasts represent Jesus’ sufferings which He experienced the Passover night until His crucifixion. Jesus Christ chose the Passover celebrated at the time of the Exodus, in order to make us remember our deliverance from the sinful world.
John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Just as God delivered the people of Israel out of slavery through the Passover, Jesus granted us the forgiveness of sins on the night of the Passover and thus delivering us from the slavery to sin.
Matthew 26:19-28 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover…Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
The Passover lamb had been sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month of the sacred year over a period of 1,500 years. On the same day, Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples and appointed this feast as a memorial day of His death as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. The Passover bread becomes Jesus’ body crucified on the cross and the Passover wine His precious blood shed on the cross (John 6:53-54).
Therefore, it was on the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight, when the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed, that Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples. As it is written:
Mark 14:12 “On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover Lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
Now for the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus must be sacrificed on the fifteenth day of the first month.
Fulfillment of the Prophecy in the Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Passover was the greatest festival of the Jews, and they didn’t hand criminals over to be crucified on the Passover. We can see an example of this in the book of Acts:
Acts 12:3-4 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
After being arrested by Herod, the Apostle Peter was kept in Prison, the Passover came and they waited until it was over. It was on the Passover night that an angel of the LORD rescued Peter from prison (Acts 12:1-10). However, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning on the fifteenth day of the first month of the sacred year, was the day on which the Israelites left Egypt and the Egyptians buried their firstborns.
Numbers 33:3-4 The Israelites set out from Ramses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them…
This made it customary for the Jews to crucify those whom they considered as criminals on this day. By bearing a curse on the cross, Jesus redeemed us from the curse (Galatians 3:13).
Studying the various verses carefully, we come to understand that Jesus was crucified on the day of Unleavened Bread, the day after the Passover.
Passover Can Land on Any Day of the Week.
Since the Passover is kept on the basis of the sacred calendar in the Bible, Passover can land on any day of the week of the Solar calendar. Since Passover landed on a Thursday in the time of Jesus, the day He was crucified was a Friday, but in reality, Passover could have landed on a Monday and Jesus would have been crucified on a Tuesday.
I know some people will ask the following question:
The reason Jesus said that He was going to resurrect three days later has to do with the feast of the firstfruits.
Feast of the Firstfruits and Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:20 But Christ has indeed raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The resurrection of Jesus took place on the basis of the Feast of the Firstfruits, then how was the Feast of the Firstfruits calculated?
Leviticus 23:9-11 The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath…
The Feast of Firstfruits was calculated on the basis of the Passover, it was Sunday, the day after the first Sabbath day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread.. This means that no matter on what day the Passover lands, that first Sunday after the Feast of Unlevened Bread would be the feast of the Firstfruits.
In the time of Jesus Passover landed on a Thursday, for this reason, Resurrection day which is the first Sunday after Passover, landed three days later. But if Passover had landed on a Monday then Jesus would have said that He would rise in 6 days.
Why Do They Celebrate Good Friday on a Friday?
The reason why Catholics and other Protestants continue to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion on a Friday is because they do not celebrate the Passover, so they have no way to know when the Feast of Unleavened bread has to be kept.
In the year 325 AD through the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Emperor Constantine abolished the Passover. This meant that Christians were not allowed to keep the Passover in accordance with the date in the Bible, which is the 14th day of Aviv. But, once they abolished the Passover they also had no way to know on which day Resurrection day should be kept since it is based on the Feast of Firstfruits. Thus, they decided that Resurrection Sunday (which they called Easter) would be held on the first Sunday after first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.
Since they calculated their celebration of the Resurrection based on the vernal equinox, they just conveniently made the Friday before their resurrection Sunday “Good Friday.” They do this since two thousand years ago was crucified on a Friday and Resurrected on a Sunday.
In conclusion, for Christians who keep the Passover in accordance with what the Bible says, we commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice by fasting on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 2:18-20). For this reason, we do not need to participate in the erroneous ceremony called “Good Friday.”