Good Friday, according to the Jewish calendar, began at sundown on the Thursday evening before Christ was crucified. The Bible chronicles the private and public occasions that took place during that time.
Good Friday commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Although His death was cruel and unjust, the day is called “good” because through His suffering on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus atoned for the sins of all humankind. The events leading to Good Friday and Easter Sunday—which celebrates His Resurrection—fulfilled prophecies, made possible God’s plan, and will allow you to live again and enjoy eternal life.
What is Good Friday?
The Last Supper
On that Thursday evening in Jerusalem, Jesus and His Apostles gathered to eat the Passover meal. There, Christ introduced the ordinance of the sacrament (or communion) as a remembrance of the body and blood He would soon sacrifice for all humankind. “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (Mark 14:22–24).
Christians all over the world continue to take part in the sacrament, or communion, today. In doing so, participants remember the Savior and renew the covenants they made at baptism.
Atonement in Gethsemane
Following the Last Supper, Jesus and His Apostles walked to an olive orchard at the foot of the Mount of Olives known as Gethsemane. There, Jesus left His Apostles and prayed fervently to His Father. Luke testified of the intensity of Jesus’s prayers: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). This precious blood was “shed for the atonement of our sins” (Alma 24:13).
During this solemn night, Jesus “suffer[ed] according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance” (Alma 7:13).
As Jesus returned to His waiting disciples, a crowd of armed Roman soldiers approached Gethsemane. Among them was His disciple Judas Iscariot, who signaled Jesus’s identity by giving Him a kiss. The soldiers, sent by the Pharisees and chief priests, arrested Jesus and took him to the Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court), where He was unlawfully convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.
Lacking the legal authority to carry out the death penalty, the Jewish court delivered Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate early on Friday morning. In a move calculated to ensure His death, the Sanhedrin changed the charge from blasphemy (not a concern under Roman rule) to high treason against Caesar, which, under Roman law, would call for His death by crucifixion, an event Jesus Himself had foretold (see Matthew 20:18–19).
After interrogating Jesus, Pilate found no fault in Him and, in an attempt to avoid responsibility, sent Him to Herod Antipas. While in Herod’s presence, Jesus suffered ridicule and mistreatment, before being returned to Pilate for final sentencing.
As a Passover tradition, the Roman governor could release one prisoner according to the choice of the people. To avoid shedding innocent blood, Pilate put the choice before the people—release Jesus or a man named Barabbas, a murderer convicted of sedition. The crowd demanded the release of Barabbas. Pilate then asked what he should do with Jesus. They answered with a chilling cry: “Crucify him” (Mark 15:14). And Pilate, giving in to social and political pressure, delivered Jesus to be crucified.
Following His sentencing, Jesus was scourged with a whip of leather strips weighted with metal and edged with jagged pieces of bone. Bleeding and in pain, Jesus was then stripped of His clothing, dressed in a purple robe, fitted with a crown of thorns, and mocked and abused by the Roman soldiers. This suffering and ridicule at their hands fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (see Isaiah 53:1–12).
Jesus then carried His cross to Golgotha, receiving assistance only from Simon the Cyrenian. An excruciating method of execution, the Crucifixion of Jesus involved nailing His hands and feet to the cross. On the cross He was mocked again, His clothing taken and bartered away, and He was left to die between two convicted prisoners. Yet Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
As a divine being, Jesus held power over His mortal life, yet He gave it up willingly. “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18). After several hours of extreme pain on the cross, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
Why is Good Friday good?
Although the events of that final Friday were unjust and horrific, Christians recognize this day as Good Friday for the good it continues to offer the world.
An atonement for sin
As it teaches in the Bible, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). From Gethsemane to Golgotha, Jesus accepted all the knowledge and accompanying weight and pain of every sin and wrongdoing ever known to humankind. If you’ve ever felt ache and anguish from doing wrong, you know how painful that may be, but you cannot begin to understand the pain suffered by Jesus Christ. Jesus felt it for every sin. For every person. For you. Through Jesus’s willing act, God’s requirement for justice and His desire for mercy were balanced. Through faith in Jesus Christ, personal repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost, you can receive God’s grace and fulfill part of your purpose on earth.
On the Sunday morning following Jesus’s Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb to share their grief, show respect, and anoint His body with embalming oils. But His body was not there—the tomb was empty.
Jesus was risen, His body restored in perfect, resurrected form. Jesus had overcome death—and so He lives today. And His Resurrection promises that we will all live again, as well.
As Jesus taught, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).
Because of Christ, death is a “sting” in the course of life that we will all ultimately overcome (see Mosiah 16:8). And because of the Resurrection of Jesus, we can live with our families and loved ones again—for eternity.