Good Friday has always been the most confusing ‘holiday.’ While the stock market is closed and has been every year except for two years since 1889, the post office, banks, and in all but 11 states schools are open as usual. Easter is a holiday that is observed, but for the kids in school that wished they were at home on Friday Easter Sunday does not provide a day off, thus in their minds, Friday is not a holiday. Apparently, in the good old USA, Good Friday is not so good.
I asked my Catholic Mom why Good Friday was not a holiday (Ohio is not one of the 11 states); ‘because Jesus died on Friday and it was a sad day, Easter is the important day to remember.’ But Mom, we don’t get a day off for Easter, why don’t they just give us Friday off, so we don’t have to go to school? ‘So you can suffer with Jesus! Now shut up and get out the door before you miss the bus.’ According to my Mother, who seldom got irritated or mad, that is all I needed to know!
In researching the topic of why Good Friday or Easter are not considered one of the ten ‘official federal holidays‘ the most common answer is congressional leaders sought to keep a separation of church and state in place. Some say because Easter was on a Sunday, there was no sense in making it a federal holiday as it was always on a Sunday. This seems like a logical explanation, but that does not explain why Christmas is a federal holiday. Nor does it explain the fact holidays like July 4th that could fall on a Sunday would roll over to the Monday.
In America where supposedly between 70 – 80% of the population professes some form of Christianity Good Friday and Easter are not considered no-work holidays. Yet there are at least 97 countries that close all government offices, schools, and banks. Several of them consider it a 4-day weekend including India where only 2-3% of the population is Christian.
While I cannot explain WHY businesses and the government in the USA have chosen to ignore the significance of Good Friday I did some research on a few amazing things to consider in regards to the not-so-important day in history. A little preview started with another average Joe question that starts with ‘why.’
The question I pondered for months was Why after being awake all night and then being tortured with a skin-ripping whip did Jesus have to stay hanging on a cross for SIX more hours before dying? Why not make it a few minutes and get the hell over with quickly? If you can bear to hear at least SIX details of WHY then keep on reading. Otherwise, carry on like it is not important as much of the country I live in seems to treat this small letter good friday.
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Someone recently criticized me saying I can be a bit irreverent of God when I ask the question Why so often. They went on to say you should just accept the Bible for what it says and obey, nothing more. There are seemingly many contradictory statements, and actions, made by people and words can be misconstrued. But just as 100 Google searches could not reveal a solid answer as to why the USA has chosen to not set aside a special non-work day for either Good Friday or Easter, there were also many good why answers. I believe God wants to reveal His love and wisdom in every possible way to show people that HE is always good and is always loving. How those two words are defined, vary vastly across the globe and across time. Asking why when things are hard to understand to me is not irreverent, it is like a child asking a Father questions about things they do not understand. I think my Father likes deep conversations.
Recently I had one of those why conversations, this one started at exactly 6 a.m. (It took me into a deep dive look into the #6) The day before I had just had a conversation with a Pastor. We were discussing the tragic death of a 21-year college student-athlete who died instantly when his car missed a turn on a curvy mountain road in California. He was on his way to church. His parents and his family had set foot in California several years after moving from Australia. All of them had given their lives to serving God. This young man had already touched the lives of thousands of people, was an excellent student, a great athlete, and on his way to even greater accomplishments than his parents had done, which is a lot!
Our conversation had ended with a – some things we will never know, and even if we knew the answers, would it make a difference? Sometimes I think it does. This is not a story for entertainment but to perhaps answer your why questions.
My brain like the typical worrier is in constant motion as thoughts go from one end of the spectrum to another. My wife is way smarter and calmer than I and reads way more than I do. Sometimes she plants questions in my head and one recently was about a moment of respect that some denominations do on Good Friday. They stop all that they are doing to sit and think about the suffering that Jesus did on the cross for three hours. She asked why do they do that?
My first response was to say it was SIX hours not three. Luke chapter 23 covers the details of how Jesus was nailed to the cross at modern time 9:00 a.m. and at noon the entire world became dark. For the next three hours, it was completely dark until He died at 3:00 p.m. Some sectors of Christianity stop all they are doing for just one of the 3 hour periods. You can find many more details here and in other documents. Of course, there are debates on the date and amount of time. For the must-have-100%-proof folks I can’t help you, for those who accept He was on the cross for Six full hours, let’s analyze the number SIX.
Here is not your typical blog writing where somebody lists six things, but I have to have a title:
SIX REASONS GOOD FRIDAY WAS MORE THAN GOOD!
- Common Biblical numerology identifies #6 as “the number of man” and “release from bondage.”
- Six makes sense as a very important number in history since God created the Universe in 6 days, and man was created on the 6th day. Thus it is considered first off as “the number of man.”
- We all should know from the 10 commandments God said we are to keep the Sabbath holy, as He created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th. The 7th day is to be spent spending time with God. Some call it worship, which sounds like work, but if you understood what it is like to be in the presence of God, worship is very easy and amazing.
- Moses waited 6 days before he could meet God on the mountain. This is IMPORTANT: ” Exodus 24:15-17 “Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory and brilliance of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day, God called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 In the sight of the Israelites, the appearance of the glory and brilliance of the Lord was like consuming fire on the top of the mountain. (Mt Sinai)” Proving my point on what it is like in the presence of God. What is key here is God was the only one that could make way for His Holy self to be enter-able. Thus Moses had to wait SIX days. Once that happened he went up to the mountain in the cloud, and the OLD COVENANT was established with the written law of the 10 commandments being handed down.
- It is the most common knowledge that the sign of Satan is 6-6-6. When the darkness struck over the earth, (I am speculating here) many teach that this was the only moment when God and Jesus were not One. Satan was given in essence 6 full hours to cause Jesus to suffer what no man has ever felt in history. Some say it was ‘only’ 6 hours, while people like me that cannot handle the pain of a pierced finger very long that it was an excruciating horrid amount of pain. If you question what Jesus went through watch the movie The Passion by Mel Gibson, or read of what the gruesome details of what a crucifixion is like here.
- It took six days before Moses could see God. It took (is it a coincidence?) six hours of suffering for all the sins of mankind before Jesus and his Father were united. And to add to the list of Why’s and things we don’t understand, consider that we know after suffering a horrible death, 3 days later Jesus rose from the dead. What no man could do to make things right on earth, only God could do (like only He could settle the cloud glory before Moses could see Him) by sending His son.
3 Days and the 2 perfect ones meeting together created a new covenant 3 x 2 = 6 (SIX)
By now perhaps you are aware every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value and a word meaning or sometimes two. Do you know which letter the number 6 correlates to?
The # Six = Vav which has 2 different meanings the 1st is a nail or peg in Hebrew. It is also a conjunction (“and”), for it takes a nail to connect two things.
At the 6th hour, the Father and the son were re-connected. After being nailed on a cross for 6 hours after having nails driven into His hands and feet, Jesus died but was immediately connected and reunited with the Father.I am buying Jesus hung on the cross exactly for 6 hours and there are probably many more reasons why God pieced together a new covenant in this way. One in which all of man’s sins were forgiven proving God’s love for man and His desire to have a relationship with every person that chooses to believe in Him. It was of extreme importance that the sacrifice of Jesus own life, God’s only Son, on good Friday GOOD FRIDAY WAS MORE THAN GOOD. Knowing the number six represents man and the release from bondage together is once again NOT a coincidence as Jesus fulfilled man’s greatest need by dying on the cross. Easter is equally as important in the proof of the goodness and greatness of God as Jesus raising from the grave proved He had defeated death!
John Piper wrote: “The death of Christ did not merely precede His resurrection–it was the price that obtained it. The Bible says He was raised not just after the blood-shedding, but by it. The wrath of God was satisfied with the suffering and death of Jesus. The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed. The price of forgiveness was totally paid. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated. All that was left to accomplish was the public declaration of God’s endorsement. This He gave by raising Jesus from the dead. When the Bible says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17, ESV*), the point is not that the resurrection is the price paid for our sins. The point is that the resurrection proves that the death of Jesus is an all-sufficient price.”
The above is one of several cliff note highlights from Fifty Reasons Why He (Jesus) Came to Die by John Piper described in one of his books. Read More here as endorsed by the late Billy Graham. I cannot cover it all in one blog, if you think it is a joke I cannot help you, but implore you to search out more if you doubt. It is why I ask why in my relationship with the perfect and Holy God, and He is pleased to provide more reasons to believe. Sometimes it is simply by answering my prayers, I tell of 7 out of 7 in this story (if you read it, it says 6 1/2 out of 7, #7 was answered a week ago, TGBTG!) The world gives you plenty of excuses to not believe, how about trying to read a few things to bring you to the light?
The topic of Christ’s suffering and suffering, in general, has long been a topic of difficulty. For my Catholic friends here is well-written dialogue, I cite 2 sections in an article from 2004.
“Did Christ have to suffer as he did to accomplish our salvation? Or could that purpose have been achieved another way? It’s an age-old question. Sixteen centuries ago, when Augustine addressed the matter, he noted that he was not the first person even back then to discuss it. “There are those,” the bishop wrote, “who say, ‘What? Did God have no other way to free men from the misery of this mortality?
When you think about that question, it adds further to the greatness of what Jesus did, as He absolutely had a choice. He prayed in the garden while getting zero sleep before the good Friday. He begged God (remember Jesus was on the earth as a man just like every single one of us. He had a free choice) to say no; “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42. Instead, post sweating blood from the stress and anxiety, He chose to go forward with the suffering He knew would be horrific.
And then, after being nearly beaten to death (which is NOT what happens to others that are crucified as criminals), He hung on the cross, with nails in his wrists and through His feet for a full SIX hours. At any moment throughout the entire procedure, Jesus could have summoned His Father who could have come down and ended it all. God could have sent a flood like the days of Noah, or fire and brimstone like Sodom and Gomorrah, all ways to stop sin and stop people from doing wrong. God could have used His almighty power, but instead, in partnership with His willing Son, it all went down until He died.
Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Just as man was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also it should be a man who should overthrow the devil. And since man deserved death, so it should be a man who, by dying, vanquishes death. That is why it is written: ‘Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 15:57)” The human race had been left in bondage to sin, death, and the devil by the Fall. So it was a fitting irony—a kind of poetic justice on God’s part—to use a member of that race to conquer sin, death, and the devil. The tables were turned; the roles were reversed; the victor was vanquished. Satan, who had fallen away from God through pride, was humiliated.”
Today religions and Christians fight oppression and evil too often on a political platform. Our forefathers in the USA won freedom from the British by power and war. Martin Luther King won a portion of freedom for blacks through peaceful matters. Both are given days of honor in national holidays, yet not the greatest man who ever walked on the face of the earth as a human who won our freedom in a way that many do not understand at all. Perhaps the decision makers had made the same decision to not honor Jesus death that the Jewish leaders did, they wanted to see the Messiah come back and show freedom and salvation all by power. (yes I am speculating but setting up the next point) “All by power” – a proof of strength rather than sacrifice. What they did not and many today do not understand is Jesus was in no way weak, He OVERCAME DEATH. You have to die first to overcome death. No one else has ever done such a thing and come back to talk about.
Aquinas with help from Augustine summarizes what Jesus did and adds, what we as Christians should also do: “If God wanted Christ, as a representative of mankind, to defeat Satan, and Christ had available to him all the power of God, why couldn’t Christ simply crush the devil in combat? Why submit himself to such torment? The devil was to be conquered not by the power of God but by his righteousness. . . . For the devil, through the fault of his own perversity, had become a lover of power and a forsaker and assailant of righteousness. . . . So it pleased God that, in rescuing man from the grasp of the devil, the devil should be vanquished not by power but by righteousness.
In the same way, men, imitating Christ should seek to conquer the devil and evil in the world by righteousness, not by power. In a sense, then, righteousness is itself a kind of might, but a higher kind than brute force. So it was more fitting that God should use the higher kind of might against an enemy whose perverse strategy was to use the lower kind. Righteousness thus defeated raw power.”
While I will not dare challenge theologians and attempt to say this expose on the #6 should be taught in every pulpit from here on out. I hope it has given you an increase in faith and belief that God knows what He is doing and has thought through in His infinite wisdom every angle. Most important is seeking to reveal differently His amazing love which He seeks to prove to us always. There is indeed many who lie and tell you it is not so. I choose to believe God’s love is so great it is beyond our comprehension.
Here on this Good Friday, I believe God is more than good! And now you have Six Reasons Good Friday was also way more than Good!
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In most Latin American countries, “Semana Santa” or Holy Week is the biggest travel week of the year, sort of like either Thanksgiving weekend, or the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Both Thursday and Friday are state holidays. Colombia has something like 19 state holidays with either mandatory time off or extra pay required. All but maybe 4 are Catholic holidays. Most of them, the state mandates celebration on Mondays, giving people 3 day weekends. On the minor holidays, mostly Saint’s feast days, many people I ask have no idea the purpose of the holiday or what it celebrates. I have asked. When I first moved here, I would go outside on a Monday and wonder where everybody was. I would ask someone: “Where is everyone?” ”
“It’s a holiday” I would be told.
“What holiday is it?” I would ask.
The churches are busier than usual, but more people seem to go party on Sunday night, or go camping for the weekend. On the Atlantic coast, the evangelical churches have gained a strong foothold. Much less so in the mountains and highlands, thugh there are some.They would have been illegal before the constitutional reform of 1853 which tolerated other sects and faiths, but it was not until the constitutional reform of 1991 which removed the Catholic Church as the official state church. In Cartagena there is a museum of the inquisition of Cartagena in the place where they would torture people who weren’t Catholic (or who annoyed the bishops).
As you would expect, the small towns and countrysides are more religious than the big cities.There is a big fight right now over abortion, as the supreme court ruled it more legal than it was before. I haven’t followed it closely so I am not up on the details. There is a small jewish population in Colombia, but not as prominent as in México. There is a considerable Muslim population, many having come over as refugees from the Ottoman Empire. Except for on the San Andrés Archipelago, most immigrated generations ago and are fully blended into Colombian society. You can only tell by their name. For example the singer Shakira’s last name is Mebarak from her Lebanese father.
The tiny Colombian Caribbean island of San Andrés is interesting. Most of the population is English speaking black protestant (the largest church is Baptist), even though they are all Colombian citizens. There is also a population of observant traditional Muslims on the island who have a large, beautiful mosque that they attend every Friday, mostly in traditional Arab full length tunics. Quite a contrast to the rest of the island, which is a beach destination with tourists running around in tiny bikinis! As the Caribbean deserves, everyone seems very laid back and gets along with one another.
I’ll be traveling to the Bahamas soon where I will reconnect with some distant cousins from my grandfather’s family. Most of them down there (well, up there for me) are 7th day Adventists and quite observant. i will have to pack my own rum, I suppose!
Stay safe amigo, and happy birthday!
Interesting data. This prompted me to look at the U.S. For Christian-based services, Easter is the #1 attended service in large high profile churches, Christmas #2, Mothers Day #3. In small churches, the highest attendance is on Mothers Day. https://www.christianpost.com/news/mothers-day-church-attendance-third-highest-after-easter-christmas-fathers-day-last.html Fathers Day doesn’t even show up in the numbers at all. Goes to tell you who wears the pants in the families nowadays. I wouldn’t know where to start on the other religions. Thanks for your reply and comments.
This was a very insightful article, Joe. I had never thought much about the meaning of 6 hours, or even connected it to Moses waiting 6 days! God has opened your mind and downloaded some of His knowledge to you. Thank you for sharing this!
Bravo, Joe. I was intrigued by your enlightened message about the Christian significands of the number 6 as it relates to our faith. Thanks for giving us your insight. This message is a real keeper as it explains a lot, hereto not evident in any other commentary that I have ever read.
You are welcome, but honestly this was a message from outside my capabilities, a true revelation that the Holy Spirit gives wisdom. I am not that smart and only have a two year degree from a tech school, which is what they said about Jesus’ disciples, ‘uneducated in the way.’ TGBTG!
Proud of you brother !
The insight on your stories are amazing and prophetic. Never ever heard anyone tie the six hours on the cross to anything before, let alone how it links the old covenant law to the new covenant relationship with God.
Thank you for the kind words! I don’t know about prophetic but I do know instead of worrying about things that don’t matter; several years ago I learned to channel my thoughts in a different direction. With a handy Ipad I type in questions in my electronic notepad and start researching and building answers (or more questions) and look for ways to tie them together. Provided I don’t go down the wrong rabbit hole I eventually find some gems and missing puzzle pieces. On a good day, it sometimes turns into a whole picture and story.