The day of Jesus Christ's crucifixion was no doubt the saddest day in the lives of his disciples.
There is still a tendency today for people to feel a gloomy heaviness on Good Friday. Their sensibilities are appalled as they remember the injustice of the crucifixion and the unspeakable malevolence directed toward the one who came forth from God to show the world the way of salvation.
As natural as this appears, it is unnecessary. Unlike the disciples, who were at the time swept along by the rush of events, we have the advantage of hindsight.
We can remember that the gloom of the crucifixion was forever dispelled by the glory of the Saviour's resurrection and his subsequent ascension. We have the written Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-and the privilege of calmly reflecting on their messages. In the study of these histories, it is evident that Jesus was fully conscious of God's eternal supremacy and that, as God's Son, he had an unimpeachable dominion over human events.
Look at Jesus' arrest in the garden of Gethsemane: the men who came for him were thrown backward onto the ground by some apparently unseen force (see John 18:6). Here was a powerful sign of the protection available to Jesus.
Ponder the Master's interview with the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. When Pilate claimed to hold over him the power of life or death, Jesus corrected him with a declaration of the spiritual truth he knew so well and was about to prove so convincingly-that all power is of God, and consequently that his life was under God's jurisdiction, not Rome's (see John 19:11).
Consider Jesus' ordeal on the cross. Even there he gave evidence of dominion over the situation. In radical obedience to the First Commandment, which says to have no gods but the one God, he refused to drink a pain-killing substance offered to him; he relied on God alone, not on matter (see Matthew 27:34). Instead of pitying himself, he selflessly comforted others, promising paradise to a repentant thief (see Luke 23:43) and entrusting the care of his mother, Mary, to the disciple John (see John 19:26, 27). Most of all, Jesus forgave his executioners, vigorously aligning himself with divine Love (see Luke 23:34).
Those who mocked Jesus while he was on the cross believed him to be helpless, incapable of escaping them. In retrospect, knowing that the stone was rolled away from his tomb and that he rose from the grave, we see something more clearly: Jesus surely had the ability to come down from that cross, had he so chosen.
Then, why didn't he? Because of his love for the world. Jesus willingly allowed evil to take its best shot at destroying him. Coming down from the cross would have been marvelous. But coming forth from the tomb was a greater victory. The resurrection and ascension were crowning events in human history, for they gave the ultimate proof that good is supreme over evil, Life over death, and Spirit over matter. The full consciousness of God as Life and Love enabled Jesus to make the demonstration of dominion over death on the third day.
It was necessary for Jesus to submit to the crucifixion in order to prove conclusively the unfailing truth of what he had taught, that because God is All, life and good are inextinguishable, eternal. In the words of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered in Jesus' teaching the healing Science of Christ, "The truth had been lived among men; but until they saw that it enabled their Master to triumph over the grave, his own disciples could not admit such an event to be possible" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 24).
The crucifixion and resurrection permanently established Christianity. Through them, Jesus' teachings are forever grounded as practical, not hypothetical. He demonstrated that God's power is to be manifest in the here and now, not just in the hereafter. He proved that God's power can never be interrupted.
No wonder we call it "Good Friday"!
You can find in-depth articles about Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.