Good Friday commemorates the day the Savior was convicted, crucified and buried.
Friday morning, after He had spent most of the night suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ was brought before Governor Pontius Pilate. Christ stood before Pilate next to a “notable prisoner” named Barabbas. Pilate asked the multitude of people observing the trial who should be released — Barabbas or Christ?
The multitude was convinced by the chief priests and elders and chose to release Barabbas and crucify Christ. Though he felt this decision may be spilling the blood of an innocent man, Pilate physically and metaphorically washed his hands of the issue and allowed Christ to be delivered to be crucified.
They stripped Him of His clothes and instead dressed Him in a scarlet robe and crown of thorns with a reed in place of a scepter, mocking His title as King of the Jews. They spit on Him, abused Him and took the robe from Him before making Him carry His own cross to Golgotha where He would be hung after nails were driven through His hands, wrists and feet to hold Him to the cross.
When Christ was nailed and hung on the cross, an inscription reading “INRI” was written above His head. INRI stands for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum which translates literally to “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.”
While hanging on the cross, many people mocked and provoked Him saying that if He were the Christ, He would be able to escape the cross and be saved by His Father. In Matthew 27:46, after feeling the Spirit had left Him and He was truly alone, the Savior cried out to His Father.
“Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in his Easter 2009 address. “I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually — that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”
For the first time, Christ had to hold the weight of His Atonement all on His own without the Spirit of His Father carrying Him through the pain. After reaching the lowest anyone would go, Christ “gave up the ghost” and died on the cross. That evening, Christ’s body was removed from the cross, wrapped in linen and cloths and laid to rest in a tomb.
While it may feel counterintuitive to refer to such a tragic and dark day as “Good” Friday, many Christians choose to remember this day for the completion of Christ’s sacrifice in His Atonement. He died for the sins of all mankind and sacrificed Himself; He felt the lowest any person could feel so that all people would be able to be redeemed from their sins.
As Elder Holland said, “… one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so.”