It seems almost utterly cliche to speak of what, exactly is good about Good Friday. We certainly have an answer close at hand: what is good about Good Friday is the role that Christ’s death plays in our salvation. It’s good that Christ died because Christ needed to die to bring about our salvation. I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with this notion, depending on the sort of atonement theology that this line of thinking assumes, however it doesn’t take us very deep. No matter what it makes the goodness of Good Friday instrumental. It was good that Christ died because, for whatever reason, that had to happen for a bunch of other things to happen that constitute our salvation.
This construction establishes the goodness of Good Friday on the basis of it setting the conditions, as it were, for what is really the truly good thing, the resurrection. Good Friday is retroactively rendered good, as it were by virtue of the light of Easter. This also is fine, as far as it goes. However, it doesn’t go deep enough. What ultimately makes Good Friday good is that it is the actualization in history of the fullness of God’s trinitarian agape. Good Friday is good because it is on this day that we witness, in the person of Jesus the reaches to which the love of God freely goes for the sake of the world. Good Friday is good because the love that loves unto death is revealed to us on this day.
Good Friday is good because on it God in Christ gives himself away to the world, all the way to the point of death, even death on cross. Good Friday is good because it was the first day in the history of the world where we finally knew and saw the fullness of God’s self-expending love. On Good Friday the love of God journeys into the farthest reaches of the human experience under sin. In embracing death, the Son takes the infinite love of the Trinity into the most remote place that humanity could construct in its rebellion against God. What makes Good Friday good is that this is the day when the love of God entered into every last human darkness, leaving nothing out. Good Friday is not simply good by virtue of the resurrection to come. Good Friday is good because on this day, God refused to be absent any longer from any corner of our alienation and death.
“Truly I say to you, this very day, you will be with me in paradise.” This is the promise of the love that endures Good Friday. And this is why it is good. Very good.