As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ.
First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century. Among the possible origins for the term “Good Friday” there are two that are most plausible.
The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name “Gute Freitag” is Germanic in origin and literally means “good” or “holy” Friday. The second possibility is a variation on the name “God’s Friday,” where the word “good” was used to replace the word “God,” which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud.
It was no coincidence that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey (Psalm Sunday) on the very day that Jewish families were to choose a lamb to sacrifice. And Jesus’ death occurs at 3:00 p.m. on Friday which was the very hour that the sacrificial lambs were slain in the temple. John the Baptist said it best when he declared:
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” ~ John 1:29
This song by Ray Boltz is one of my favorites for depicting both the brutality of Jesus’ death and the beauty of God’s love on display some 2000 years ago on what we refer to as Good Friday.