Why then is it called Good Friday? To understand this we must go back two-thousand years or nearly 30 generations. Jesus was a radical character in His or even our time. He was a young man around he age of 30 when he began his ministry of speaking about the kingdom of God. For three years He spoke Truth to power that upset the religious authorities who believed they had exclusive rights to teach about God to the people. Jerusalem was the promised land to the ancestors of the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt. They were chosen by God to be witnesses of His Holy presence on earth and were given this land for them (and their ancestors) to live in peace. To some, Jerusalem is a metaphor for a Heavenly home to those to are faithful to God, His holy people as opposed to those who reject God and choose to live in the materialistic ways of the world.
When the juggernaut that was Rome conquered the land, they allowed the Jews to worship as they wished so long as they paid tribute (in the form of taxes) to Roman authorities. Begrudgingly, the Jewish rulers had to submit to these conditions in order to preserve their lives. The old testament contains writings that are over 3500 years old today which were still ancient in Jesus' time that predicted the coming of a messiah or savior of the Israelites who would restore Jerusalem. These prophesies were interpreted as the coming of a warrior-king who would vanquish the roman rulers and restore the rule of the Jewish people; however, Jesus was a different kind of messiah...
Jesus preached the Kingdom of God was for the poor which contrasted the pompous religious authorities who lived a lavish lifestyle. He was a threat to them because he preached with authority and was able to heal the sick. At that time, God had given a few people the gifts of healing, so the fact that Jesus was able to perform such miracles were not so out of the ordinary. Jesus was radically different in that he was rich in forgiveness, which contrasted the idea that God was full of wrath from the Old Testament scriptures. For example, the religious authorities tried to trap Him by justifying a stoning in which Jesus calmly responded with the now famous, "let him who is without sin, cast the first stone".
He redefined the belief structure that surrounded sinners offering them hope for salvation through the concept of repentance which sounds simple enough, but society could not get past this. Society rejected lepers and outcasts as individuals whose parents had sinned causing the deformity and disease to justifiably befall these people. Jesus embraced them and offered healing and hope, which won the hearts of the masses and also why the religious authorities hated Him. He threatened their stronghold on the masses upon whose tithings and support the religious authorities depended. Power, greed, and egotism had corrupted them.
So when the evil religious authorities had hatched a plan to kill Jesus, under the suspicion that He was a fraud claiming to be "The Son of Man". They cast doubt about His ability to save His people when He could not save himself from their snares. Jesus had enigmatically predicted his own death and ressurrection which he entered into without protest like a lamb being led to the slaughter. Nobody in history had done anything like this until now. Jesus' own disciple, Judas, a member of his inner circle who was kept in charge of the money amongst the apostles, doubted that Jesus could be the prophesied messiah due to his impending murder. Judas decided to profit from what he believed was inevitable by asking, "what are you willing to give me?" from the religious authorities in exchange for handing Jesus over to death. Judas' greed (selfish attachment to things of this world) drove him to betray innocent blood. Afterwards he tragically commited suicide in order to escape the guilt.
By the time roman authorities were involved the wheels of the crucifixion had begun to turn. Jesus suffered horrendous beatings and torture before finally succumbing to death on the cross. The barbaric practice of crucifixion was used to intimidate enemies of Rome who saw the dead raised upon these wooden structures to dissuade insurrection; however, in the case of Jesus, His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection became the new symbol of triumph over death. Thank God this practice is not commonly used today, in fact, nations have come and gone including Rome, yet, Jesus remains.
God speaks to us in parable and metaphor so that our minds can better understand what He is trying to say. Language and culture change over time; but these "metaphors" last forever. In this metaphor, in order to atone for sin man used to offer animal sacrifices, but now Jesus was the last offering necessary as he stood on the cross. Today, we no longer practice crucifixion in modern civilization; however, statues and images of Jesus still serve as a reminder of hope and salvation that came from his life, death, and resurrection. This is why it is called, "Good Friday".
Happy Good Friday!