What is Good Friday?
Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ. It’s called “good” because of what Jesus’ death means for the redemption of the world. RCC's Worship Gathering on this day will focus on two aims: (1) to narrate and remember the events of Jesus’ death, (2) to open up the meaning of these events for our understanding of God and the redemption accomplished by the cross.
1. First, the historical remembrance is often best accomplished through a dramatic reading of the gospel account of Jesus’ passion. (The account in John 18-19 is perhaps the most commonly used.) In some churches the read- ing is structured to follow the “seven last words of Christ” or to take the shape of a Tenebrae service of deepening shadows, in which each portion of the passion narrative is marked by extinguishing a candle or darkening the worship space in some way. Many Good Friday services are somber because of this historical remembrance.
2. Second, the theological interpretation of these events may highlight the complementary metaphors and images that the New Testament uses to convey the mystery, power, and significance of Jesus’ death—simultaneously an atoning sacrifice for sin; a picture of divine glory; an example of perfect, self-giving love; a surprising means of conquering evil; and a means for redeeming all creation. This interpretive aspect of Good Friday wor- ship may happen through preach- ing or through hymnody or other music that explores these themes and images.
(cf. Worship Sourcebook)
Biblical Background and Story
Join us for our Good Friday gathering on April 14th at 6:00pm.
Good Friday Devotional
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. 32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit
Jesus was arrested in the wee hours of Good Friday. He endured a series of harsh and unlawful trials that would extend until dawn. The sleeplessness and agony of the garden had weakened his body. His fatigue was exasperated in anguish throughout the long day to come. Caiaphas and Annas, the former and current high priests, prompted false testimony and pronounced their judgment. The Sanhedrin pressured the Pseudo-Jewish King, Herod, and the Roman Governor, Pilate, to crucify the Lord of glory. Throughout the evening and early morning, he was mocked and beaten both by temple guards and Pilate’s soldiers.
Scourged and exhausted, Jesus struggled to bear his cross. The path outside the northern gates was very rough. Our Lord passed old quarries formed to build the city’s walls. The uneven ground led to the top of an ignoble hill resembling a skull. There, at about 9am, Jesus was nailed to a cross. In stark contrast to the insolence spewed at the creator, our Lord spoke forgiveness, provision, and encouragement. He cared for even the lowliest of sinners hanging next to him.
Then something incomprehensible shook the Trinity. The Father, willing our iniquity to be cast away, laid the multitude of our sins upon the Son and forsook him. Though Jesus’ words were few, his creation gave testimony to the cosmic calamity. We see how with a weary and supernatural darkness cloaked Jerusalem from noon until 3pm. In the verses that follow our passage, the ground trembled, the soldiers cowered, the temple curtain split in two, and graves gave up their dead as Jesus gave up his spirit. The calls of hosanna that began the week, turned now to an earthly groan.
Why is it "Good"?
We call this “Good Friday,” and so it is: bitter and good. How desperate were our circumstances that he could make atonement for us only in this manner? We have sinned, failed at every standard of righteousness, and railed against our Maker. Yet, he took on flesh and yielded himself to redeem us. By his stripes we are healed.
To apply the lessons of Good Friday is to recognize our relatedness to Peter. He, one of Jesus’ closest friends and followers, denied Christ three times in the fearful hours of that morning, was later restored, and then dedicated the remainder of his life to God’s service. We have all betrayed our Lord, yet he gently restores and calls us to take up our cross and follow him. Will you live for the one who, without contest, has earned the name that is above all other names? In the light of his sacrifice, our living must be given to his purpose. He must be our all in all.
PRAYER God of heaven, for the glory of your Son, strengthen us to live our whole lives in dedication to your gospel. Help us to remember and declare that Jesus took our sins upon himself and provided for our reconciliation. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen