Good Friday

Commemorating Good Friday in Creative Ways. Here is an LDSliving article I wrote called “An Easy Good Friday tradition for your family with food, simple symbols, and scriptures.”

For more than 1,600 years Christians have been documented as celebrating Good Friday. What is this holiday, why is it important, and how can we make it meaningful?


Good Friday marks the day Jesus Christ died for our sins (3 Nephi 11:14). The “Good” in Good Friday is derived from the word holy; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called it “Atoning Friday.”  Thus, it can be called Good, Holy, Atoning Friday. 


Why is it important to commemorate Good Friday?  The answer is simple: Our relationship with the Savior is deepened as we reflect on his greatest act of love (John 15:13). Jesus himself has asked us to remember His death (Luke 22:20), view His death (Jacob 1:8) and behold His wounds (D&C 6:37).  I believe He asks us to do this because He knows remembering His death can help us feel His love. 

I have often felt perplexed in how to commemorate this day due to the intense and contrasting emotions–sadness and solemnity in the painful process of crucifixion, profound love in Jesus giving his life to atone for our sins, and victory in what Eliza R. Snow termed the “triumph of the cross” in conquering Satan. It can be worshipful to take time for and value each emotion. 


How can we give “a greater and more thoughtful recognition of” Good Friday as Elder Gary E. Stevenson taught? One idea is to highlight the people and events in the narrative.  Like candy canes or paper angels remind us of people of Christmas, simple items can connect us with the people and events of Good Friday. For example, a judge gavel (for Pilate), gold crown (for Herod), crown of thorns (for Jesus), pretty ribbon (for Pilate’s wife), whip (Roman soldier), cross (for Simon of Cyrene), purple robe; vinegar, large nail, and large beam. 

Such items can help us look at the day’s events from a particular person’s point of view or think of a lesson we can learn from them. For example, handcuffs for Barabbas can remind us that even though we are all guilty like Barabbas was, we are all set free because Jesus was not set free. A sword for the centurion at the foot of the cross can remind us of the Centurion’s declaration that Jesus truly is the Son of God and inspire us to testify like he did. Eight different colored scarves for the women at the cross can point us to their example of continued faith and inspire us to choose to stay with Jesus even when things look bleak. Aloes and myrrh point to Nicodemus’ devotion when he brought 100 pounds at the burial and cause us to contemplate what we do to show our love for the Savior.  

Visuals can also connect us with events of Good Friday. White linen, like the burial clothes, can draw our mind to that tender time of burial. A large piece of purple, red, or blue fine material can point us to the temple veil which was torn in two at Jesus’ death, signifying that now all of us can return to the holy presence of God. Darkness (turning off the lights in our home for part of the day) reminds us of the 3 hours of darkness in Jerusalem while Jesus was on the cross and the 3 days of darkness in the Americas.  

These and other items engage the interest of the young and old with the scriptural accounts found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 & John 19. Similar to the tradition of reading Luke 2 at Christmas, we can read the Passion accounts on Good Friday! Each account’s details slightly differ: Mark’s is the shortest; John’s account includes Jesus speaking to his mother; Luke has Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross; and Matthew contains detailed signs of Jesus’ death. 

The suffering Savior teaches us that he connects with us in our deepest heartaches or intense physical pain. If we are too quick to get to the Risen Lord of Easter Sunday we miss the Loving Christ of Good Friday.  Even the resurrected Lord points us to His death. In his first appearance to the Nephites, He said, “Come forth…that ye may know that I…have been slain for the sins of the world” (3 Nephi 11:14). 

Just like it would be very limiting to try and fit all of our Christmas devotionals, activities, and celebrations to one day, perhaps we can extend our Good Friday discussion. This might mean highlighting the narrative of Good Friday in the weeks leading up to Holy Week, during Holy Week, and on Good Friday.  However we decide to commemorate this day, I hope we feel its holiness and deepen our conviction of the goodness, power and reality of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice.


More Good Friday resources

For scripture references, a list of items to represent these people, and a sample reader’s theatre see this page. If you are looking for a simple Devotional Lesson Plan for Good Friday you are welcome to use this one I made! Images also connect us with the people and events of Good Friday. You can find images in this Ppt presentation link or you can do your own search online for images you like. I suggest keeping your searches specific; for example search: image of Pilate’s wife; or image of soldiers casting lots at the cross.

FOOD: Special foods on significant days can help make them even more memorable. Hot cross buns are a fun treat. See this post for recipes for the entire Easter season including food ideas for Good Friday. Christians in many faith traditions fast on Good Friday. 

ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN: Eat a meal in darkness (Hales book); Carry a beam (Hales book); Make a crown of thorns with Playdough & toothpicks (Rosbourough book); Handle Objects to tell the story; Make sugar cookies or bread in shape of cross or heart or both; Dress up as people of Good Friday and do a readers theater; Coloring pages of the seven final statements; Coloring page of veil of the temple in purple and red and tear it in half and explain that the veil torn in two at Jesus’ death signifies that because of his atoning sacrifice we can now enter the presence of God.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation I have created to help teach about Good/Holy/Atoning Friday. You are welcome to use it! I hope these resources are helpful to you in understanding and teaching the important events of Good Friday!

If you are looking for an in depth dive into Good Friday my husband’s book Considering the Cross is wonderful. It’s a great read for the Easter Season.

For more tips on keeping Jesus the center of the Easter season see this post. Happy Easter! He is Risen! Go and Tell!


Below are a few lists: People of Good Friday, Events of Good Friday, link to ideas for young children, food ideas for Good Friday and a PowerPoint link. Scripture references for the events & people can be found on this page.

Elder Stevenson said, “a more Christ-centered Easter…includes a greater and more thoughtful recognition of ….Good Friday as practiced by some of our Christian cousins. We might also adopt appropriate Christ centered Easter traditions found in the cultures and practices of countries worldwide” (The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told, Liahona, May 2023)