“SNAP—He is Dead”
So why on earth is it called ‘Good Friday’?
You might find it helpful to think of the day’s events in three sections:
- The appearance before Pilate, rejection by the crowd, and scourging at the hands of the guards, in the morning
- The crucifixion in the afternoon
- The burial in the early evening
Matthew 27:11-26—to be read in the morning
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Good Friday remembers the day Jesus died. We re-tell the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, appearance before Pilate, the Roman Governor of Jesus’ country, who sentences Jesus to death in response to the cries of the crowd, and finally, Jesus’ crucifixion on a cross. We remind ourselves of the pain and suffering Jesus endures before he finally dies, and is then buried.
At the heart of Good Friday we see the death of Jesus. We believe this is of infinite and eternal significance. Our church ancestors taught us that Jesus was born exactly like us in the truth of our human nature, except that he never sinned. He was clean of sin in his body and spirit, which meant he could be “the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world.” Because of Jesus’ death we can be made right before and with God, our sins keeping us apart from him. This act of being made “right with God” is described as being justified, reconciled, redeemed and saved. But this happens, not as a result of our works or anything about our nature, but by faith in Jesus. Salvation, being saved, is the free gift of God – who sent Jesus to die as an act of pure love. John writes in his gospel, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.”
You need something all day to remind you, and perhaps remind others – a card badge, a red ribbon, a black piece of string round your wrist, or perhaps a nail in your pocket. Why not have something in the middle of the table or pull the curtains on in the afternoon.
Matthew 27:32-56—to be read in the afternoon
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s 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 rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
I wonder what was the hardest part of all this for Jesus? Was it the sheer physical pain: being nailed, the exhausting effort to keep breathing, the constant throbbing ache? Or was it the pain of rejection, by all these people whom he had helped and healed? He still loved them, though this was a love spurned. Maybe the deepest, darkest and most never-ending was the pain of separation from his “Abba”: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Perhaps the only proper response to the death of Jesus is to hold a silence. Could you spend some time in quiet? Could you have two minutes silence at a meal time? Why not join St Luke’s Service at 2.30pm on Facebook, which will include some songs, readings and silence.
Matthew 27:57-61—to be read late in the evening
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The act of a brave man, coming out of the woodwork—Joseph from Arimathea. Jesus, unimaginably, is dead. There is no life left in him, and his dead body is entombed. The beautiful final act of two devastated, courageous and very sad Marys.
Is there anything special you have on display in your house which you could hide away? You might find this a helpful way of reminding yourself of Jesus’ being hidden in a tomb.