Good Friday

And he, bearing his cross went forth into a place 
called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha: 
where they crucified him . . . 

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, 
that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst . . . 
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, 
It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 

John 19:17–18, 28–30 

J. Kirk Richards, Grey Day at Golgotha

J. Kirk Richards, Grey Day at Golgotha

Eric Huntsman continues his series on Holy Week.

Good Friday is observed with great solemnity in some Christian traditions. While not marked as a holiday as such in the LDS community, Good Friday can be a tender and reflective time for individuals and families to pause and consider how Jesus, as our great high priest, offered himself as a sacrifice for us: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). Understanding how and why he died makes the miracle of his resurrection on Easter morning all the more glorious and joyous.

Customarily the day Jesus died on the cross is called “Good Friday” in English, either because it is a “holy” Friday, or, more likely, because in English “good” is often an archaic expression for “God.” For instance, “goodbye” means “go with God.” Accordingly, the Friday before Easter is “God’s Friday” because this day saw the culmination of God’s efforts to reconcile the world to himself through the death of his Son. The apostle Paul described it this way:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:8–12).

The gospel narratives all agree that Jesus was first tried before Pilate, the Roman governor. Luke adds that he was also questioned by Herod Antipas, the client ruler of Galilee. During his trial and after his conviction, Jesus was mocked and physically abused before being led to the place of crucifixion, where, after hanging on the cross for three to six hours, he died. He was then hastily buried in a borrowed tomb.

Scriptural Accounts: Matt 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28–19:42; see also 3 Nephi 8

Episodes for Personal Study

  • Jesus in the Hands of the Romans (Mark 15:1–19; Matt 27:1–30; Luke 23:1–25; John 18:29-19:15)
  • Jesus is Crucified (Mark 15:20-28; Matt 27:31-38; Luke 23:26-34, 38; John 19:16-24)
  • Jesus’ Final Hours (Mark 15:29-37; Matt 27:39-50; Luke 23:35-46; John 19:25-30)
  • Signs and Reactions to Jesus’ Death (Mark 15:38-41; Matt 27:51-56; Luke 23:47-49; John 19:31-37)
  • The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42-47; Matt 27:57-66; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

Please see my full blog entry for Good Friday, where each of these episodes is discussed at some length. I am also hoping that some of my discussions there, such as the short essay, “Why the Cross?” might spark some discussion here in BCC. I am also willing to weigh in a bit on side issues such as the location of Golgotha and the tomb, though those really are ancillary to what Jesus did for us.

What I would be interested in reading here is how so many of you came to observe Good Friday. For me it grew incrementally, from a general awareness that my Catholic and Protestant friends kept it to a growing feeling that this is where the sacrifice really culminated. I have many personal observances that I have built up over the years, ranging from reading the scriptural accounts, of course, to fasting during the hours my Lord was on the cross, attending the temple, joining a Good Friday service at a local Episcopal or Catholic church, wearing dark colors, listening to somber music (especially a Bach passion or part II of Handel’s Messiah). I watch “Lamb of God” with my children and we have our family devotional. I have taken the day off for years, and today I even pulled my daughter out of school to take her to St. Mary’s with me and then to the Provo Temple to do baptisms for the dead. It has become for us one of the four most important days of the year.


  1. Thank you for these insights and especially for the personal glimpse into your own private celebrations and remembrances for this sacred day. Those really sound like meaningful traditions that would be wonderful to adopt in our lives as well!

  2. Wonderful.

  3. Jason K. says:

    Your contributions have really helped to make this a special week for me. Thank you!

  4. Jennie H. says:

    Thanks for showing us that just because our church doesn’t do anything to commemorate Good Friday doesn’t mean we can’t. I admire your traditions. We’ve celebrated Palm Sunday with our children by making paper palm fronds and shouting hosanna. I’ll have to think what to do for Good Friday. I would love to join with like-minded LDS and have a scripture reading.

  5. That’s a great idea, Jennie!

    Also, a few of us from the Mormon Society of St. James ( attended the Maundy Thursday service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City last night.

  6. This was much needed contemplation for me today. It’s a low day with all the struggles looming large, and I believe this is the best corrective lens I could possibly have. I’m so glad you published it.

    I don’t mind that the church doesn’t have a well-developed tradition of observing Good Friday. It frees us to observe it individually in the most meaningful, personal way. But your example illuminates the possibilities where before was mostly darkness. Thank you again.

  7. Three glorious hours at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church* and Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Maybe because they’re the last arias before the end, but “Komm, süsses Kreuz” and “Mache dich mein Herze rein” are my favorites. And the final chorus, “Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder,” brings to a perfect ending that wonderful service.

    *54th and Lexington Avenue, New York. Next year–April 3. See you there. : )

  8. Good Friday is a time our family sets aside to remember the crucified. We stand all amazed that for us he suffered, bled and died. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to us that he rescued a sinner so rebellious and proud as us. We love our Savior and want to pattern our lives after him. Danke Die.

  9. The first time I really did anything for Holy Friday was in Jerusalem on its Orthodox date a long time ago. I’d talked with my Arabic teacher about why the day was called Good Friday and while we were stopping at the Stations of the Cross that day, we asked a Palestinian Christian what they call it in Arabic. It’s Sad or Mournful Friday. I understand better now why it’s Good Friday for so many, but I always call it Holy or Mournful Friday now.

    This morning we did the Viacrusis with many others. It has been a long time since I’ve had a chance to do that. Whether I can do it or not, I always, always think of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the devotion of so many Christians who have been there. The crosses carved on the walls and the Anointing Stone worn smooth with kisses will always be Holy Friday for me.

  10. Rfbarker says:

    I personally enjoyed watching The Messiah, although I was shocked by the casual dress of many attendees in the Tabernacle. To me the oratorio is virtually a church service.

  11. Thank you for these posts this week – I don’t comment much but I study and ponder . . . and this post especially made my visiting teaching message yesterday filled with the Spirit. Thank you!

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