To the casual observer, celebrating the day when Jesus Christ was crucified may seem like an oddity. Why would the followers of this Jesus be rejoicing over the fact that their leader was crucified? Most people may say that we celebrate because of our belief that He rose again on the third day after he died, but it's much deeper than that alone.
In the Christian tradition, the crucifixion of Jesus was not something that happened solely because he was a controversial figure and threatened the powers that be during the Roman occupation of Israel. That was what many observed as He lived on this earth, but he was crucified because of the sovereign decree of God.
There are several important places in the Biblical Old Testament that declare the Savior will be put to death as the atonement for sinners. For the sake of brevity, I will point to just two important ones: Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.
Psalm 22:16-18 reads:
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Each of those things, written many hundreds of years before the life of Christ, happened on the day of the crucifixion. The crowd gathered around Jesus as he hung on the cross; his hands and feet were pierced to hold him to the cross; he was stripped of his clothes as they executed him; and the soldiers gambled for the clothes they took from him.
Isaiah 53, one of the most important prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament, shows that the Messiah will be put to death for those who have received the gift of salvation; the passage demonstrates hundreds of years prior that the death of Christ was purposeful.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
Why was this necessary? Because the penalty of sin is death. Anyone who violates the Law of God, and all humans have violated that Law, are guilty and deserving of eternal death. But Jesus' act on Good Friday paid the price that we owe. By dying on the cross, He received the Wrath of God that each of us deserve.
1 Peter 3:18 states:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
The goodness of Good Friday is in the fact that the sins of the believing have been eternally forgiven, and the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed onto us when we receive the gift of salvation by believing through faith. For the believing, that's about as good as it can get.