It's 'Good' Friday, Not 'Bad' Friday

Text:  John 19:17-30

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are here tonight to arrange a funeral.  The altar, pulpit, lectern, and so forth are stripped and decorated in black.  The lights have been dimed.  Your pastor is dressed in black.  It is a most sobering time. 
That is the way that it is with funerals.  They tend to be sobering.  They carry with them the feelings of heaviness, grief, sorrow, and sadness.  They are not good, but are bad. 
Even though there are those times when a dying person is spared from further suffering through an early death, the death of a beloved one is still never a good thing, but bad. 
The reason why this is so?
Death is our enemy.  Death is your enemy.  The Lord does not delight in death, and we do not as well.
Thus, when we come to funerals, we come with reluctance.  We even shy away from funerals that attempt to put the ‘fun’ in funeral through celebrating a person’s life.  Otherwise stated, we shy away from these so-called uplifting funerals, these “Celebrations of Life,” for no matter how hard these Celebration of Life Services attempt to downplay death, everybody still recognizes and feels the gloom of death that shines through forced smiles and the forced laughs. 
Undeniably, no matter which way you approach a funeral and no matter how much one tries to strip the funeral of the sting of death, funerals always have a dead body.  Funerals always have a dead corpse, a lifeless body that speaks to the living about mankind’s brokenness, sin, and demise. 
Funerals are bad, for death is our enemy.
This is the reason why most people would rather attend a wedding than a funeral.  Furthermore, people would rather suffer through hours of excruciating painful noise with fifteen birthday children at a Chuck E. Cheese Family Fun Restaurant than go to a funeral.  Give us weddings and birthdays, but not funerals
With all of this said, tonight we gather together to arrange not a wedding or a birthday party, but a funeral.  Not a funeral for a family member or community member; not a funeral for some community hero.  No, we gather together to arrange a funeral for the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Unlike every other funeral that you have ever been to, we are actually here to celebrate the death of Jesus.  The reason why we are here to celebrate?  We are here to celebrate because today is ‘Good’ Friday.  That’s right, today is good.  It is a good day and a good night.  Not bad. 
This seems strange, does it not, that we call the death of the Son of God, good?  There seems to be so many more things in Christianity that we could hoist up as the center of our faith, other than this bloody death.  Maybe one the many healings or a profound teaching could be the pinnacle of good?  Counterintuitively though, today is good, today is the climax and pinnacle of the Christian faith.  Today and tonight we proclaim Christ-crucified as good and true and salutary—as the center of our faith.  But why is this Friday so good?  Did we not just establish that death is an enemy?
By faith we call this day good, when it seems like there is nothing positive and good about it.  Good Friday is the exception to the rule though.  Yes, even though it seems like a bad day—a day when the devil strikes the heal of Jesus, a day where the devil seems to have the upper hand, a day when the power and darkness of evil seem to triumph—it actually is ‘very’ good. 
Very much, even though it seems like a day when faith should die, not arise, today is that historic event that our whole being hinges upon and is sustained.  Today is the day we can hang our body and our faith upon. 

Painting by Stephen Dawson
My friends, today is good because on this day many years ago the “Most Holy [Lord] died the death of the sinner in order that the sinner might live.”[1]  Today is good, for on this day the Almighty Lord was conquered by the power of darkness, so that blind sinners might be delivered from darkness unto radiant eternal life.  Today is good, for on this day the source of life dried up in order to give life to the dead dry hearts of all sinners.  Today is good, for on this day God in the flesh died on the cross, reconciling the sinful world to Himself. 
Today is Good Friday, not Bad Friday.  Today we celebrate the death of the Son of God—for us.  Today, we cry out, “Worthy are You Lord Jesus for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation!”  Today and for all eternity we will praise the Christ for His sacrificial death on our behalf.
Today we do not cover our eyes and bow our heads to that, which is bad, but rather we stand boldly with our eyes and ears open to behold that, which is good. 
Dear Baptized Saints, “Behold this Good Friday the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and yours, the very God of Very God who dies to give you life, to rise and build you up the third day as His house of living stones.”[2] 
“Behold the death that poured forth blood and water [—for you], the death into which you are baptized, that you might with Him come forth and arise, walking now and ever in newness of life.”[3] 
“Behold, the righteousness of God, the only [gift of] righteousness that counts for anything before His judgment seat.”[4]
“[Behold,] this pure righteousness this world will ever see [that] is poured out for you as a gift on this Good Friday, to be your life, your trust, your hope, your joy, your peace that passes all understanding.”[5] 
Baptized Saints, Good Friday’s cross is “your sanctuary in the agony of sin, your hope’s anchor in affliction, your victory banner in the battle with sin, world, and Satan, your heavenly ladder in the hour of your death.”[6]
Baptized Saints, behold this Good Friday the death of the Son of God and say,
“What is death?  What is hell?  Christ, the Son of God, placed himself under God’s laws and died.  But Christ’s death defeated death and gave us life.”[7] 
Behold the death of Christ and say,
“The Law cannot condemn me!  Death will not keep me in the ground!  I will not be left alone with my sins in this life or when the dark shadow of death encroaches on me.” 
Behold the death of Christ and say,
“It is finished.  It all done.  It has all been completed for me on that Good Friday long ago.”
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] C.F.W. Walther, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1 tr. Donald E. Heck (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 219.

[2] John Sias, Sermon for Good Friday from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Colstrip, MT (29 March 2013).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] C.F.W. Walther, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1 tr. Donald E. Heck, 225.

[7] Martin Luther, Source Unknown.

CLICK HERE to listen to the Maundy Thursday Sermon. 

CLICK HERE to join in the conversation on Facebook.
CLICK HERE to follow on Twitter.