Day 5 – Friday: Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified
Poem: Good Friday (by Christina Rossetti)
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
Read: Matthew 26:57-27:54
The Friday of Holy Week was one continuous, tragic spiral from celebration to crucifixion. On Thursday, Jesus and his disciples had celebrated Passover together—remembering how God miraculously delivers the people he loves from slavery and death; but just hours later Jesus breathlessly and painfully gasps, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me.” By Friday at 3:00pm Jesus, the Messiah, God’s beloved Son, was dead. During those 18 excruciating hours, Matthew tells us detail after detail of the events of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane; his sham “trial” before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas the High Priest; his judgment before the Roman governor Pilate; his mistreatment by both Temple guards and Roman soldiers, and his crucifixion at the place called “the skull.” During those same hours, Matthew also describes how this night changed the people around Jesus: his disciples deserted him, Peter disowned him, Judas hanged himself because of him, Pilate’s wife had a dream because of him, a foreigner was forced to carry a cross for him, the women wept for him, and a Roman Centurion acknowledged him as the Son of God.
In the Christian church, we are tempted to skip through these next days as quickly as possible, and to focus much more of our time and attention on the resurrection story than on the story of Jesus’ most excruciating day. But the Gospel writers would tend to disagree. The narratives of “Resurrection Sunday” are just a fraction of the accounts of “Good Friday.” For centuries, the church has taught that the depth and length of Jesus’ sufferings are directly proportional to the depth and length of Jesus’ redeeming love and grace. We might do better to refer to this day as “Long Friday” as believers in some Scandinavian church do. And still, even though this day carries the weight of the story of Holy Week…it is not the end of the story of Holy Week. It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!
Good Friday Prayer:
Lord Jesus, who because of your burning love for us chose to be crucified
and to shed your precious blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls;
look down with mercy upon us, gathered together again at the foot of your cross.
We remember today your most excruciating day
and we believe in your promise of salvation.
Cleanse us from our sin by your grace, sanctify our labor in this life,
freely give to us and to all those who are dear to us our daily bread,
soften and sweeten our sufferings, and bless our families;
and to the world so sorely afflicted, afraid, and in need today—grant your peace;
so that by receiving and embracing your perfect righteousness
we may enter at last into your glorious kingdom of heaven.