Lent 2023 - Good Friday: A message from Rev. Ron Carlson

Lent 2023 - Good Friday: A message from Rev. Ron Carlson

April 06, 2023

Good Friday

By Rev. Ron Carlson
District Superintendent, Riverview Park District

Read John 18:1-19:42

As we begin this devotion, I want to address a common question around this day. That question sounds similar to this: Why do we call this day “Good?” tells us, “Our name for the Friday before Easter, "Good Friday," is most likely related to the English and the Dutch, the only two languages that use this term, which etymologists say is likely an alteration of the Germanic word, "Goddes," meaning "God's" or "Holy." That term does not mean "good." The day is called Holy Friday in nearly all other languages in the world.” 

They go on to further explain, “A similar process happened with the English word ‘goodbye,’ which was formed over time as a contraction of ‘God be with ye.’ English speakers are no more saying that "it's good to see you go" when they say goodbye than they are calling the day of Christ's crucifixion good when they call it Good Friday. Holy, yes. Good? Not so much.”[1]

Sometimes when I am doing a devotion, I do not read the passage as carefully as I should. Especially if it is two chapters worth of reading. I justify this by praying longer or studying the written devotional a little better. I mean I am a busy man and that reading done properly would take a good chunk of time. If you have never done that or thought in that way, bless you for your love of reading God’s word. If you carefully studied John 18:1-John 19:42, skip the next sentence and continue with the devotion in the next paragraph. The rest of you, myself included pick up your phone or Bible and re-read chapters 18 and 19 of John.

For much of my life, I didn’t grasp what happened during Holy Week with Jesus, especially what happens in these two chapters. This is because on the Sunday before we celebrate Palm Sunday, which is filled with excitement and anticipation. Then the next Sunday is Easter and that celebration. As a kid and young adult, I was more than excited to hit the parties and ignore the work that happens in between. I knew that Jesus was tried, convicted, killed and buried, but that was about it.

Every time I read these two chapters I pick up something new that I had not noticed or more likely ignored in my haste to get moving with a devotion. This reading flows from Jesus’ arrest to his interrogation, to his trial before Pilate, to His crucifixion and finally concluding with his burial. Many books and commentaries have been and will continue to be written about these chapters. This time I am taken by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple, but a secret one. Even though he tried to hide as a follower of Jesus he asked Pilate for permission to care for Jesus’ body.

This caused me to ask myself a couple of questions. First, when have I been a “secret” follower of Jesus? Would I have the courage to ask an important person/ruler for permission to care for anything, especially someone punished by the law? What did the Jewish leaders think of Joseph’s actions? What happened to Joseph? These and many more questions are running around in my head. 

Now my question for you is this: What did you notice? What questions are you asking because of what you noticed? I’d love to know where you landed and what thoughts were brought to your mind. Reply to this message and I will get your feedback. On this Holy Friday, take time to be with Jesus at a church service, in your prayer time, or as you re-read these two chapters again. You will be blessed, and you will also be a blessing.

Let’s pray- LORD on this Holy Day, bring us a glimpse of what Jesus did on this day. Help us to realize that his whole life was leading to this day. While it is dark and hopeless at the moment. Sunday is coming. Amen.