by Gerald Boerner
Good Friday represents the “anti-climax” of Holy Week, the day on which Jesus was betrayed by Judus, tried, and crucified on the Cross. To some this represents the low point of the week, but to others it represents the hope of the future in that the resurrection of Christ from the dead gives hope to the believer of his/her own resurrection at the second-coming of Christ. Let us take time to worship and thank the Lord for his gift of the Lamb of God that took away our sins, as death could not keep him down, but he overcame it on Easter morning. GLB
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
— Bible, I Peter 2:24
“The cross was two pieces of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it.”
— Augustus William Hare
“All His life long Christ was the light of the world, but the very noontide hour of His glory was that hour when the shadow of eclipse lay over all the land, and He hung on the Cross dying in the dark.”
— Author Unknown
“At His eventide "it was light," and, "He Endured the Cross, despising the shame" and, lo! the shame flashed up into the very brightness of glory, and the very ignominy and the suffering were "the jewels of His crown.”
— Author Unknown
“Exalt the Cross! God has hung the destiny of the race upon it. Other things we may do in the realm of ethics, and on the lines of philanthropic reforms; but our main duty converges into setting that one glorious beacon of salvation, Calvary’s Cross, before the gaze of every immortal soul.”
— Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
“So shall we join the disciples of our Lord, keeping faith in Him in spite of the crucifixion, and making ready, by our loyalty to Him in the days of His darkness, for the time when we shall enter into His triumph in the days of His light. And the beauty of it is that the same method runs throughout the disciples’ work which ran through His work.”
— Phillips Brooks
“When God’s children pass under the shadow of the cross of Calvary, they know that through that shadow lies their passage to the great white throne. For them Gethsemane is as paradise. God fills it with sacred presences; its solemn silence is broken by the music of tender promises, its awful darkness softened and brightened by the sunlight of Heavenly faces and the music of angel wings.”
— Frederic William Farrar
“Yet once more that cross moves closer, and yet more intensely and eagerly He who hangs upon it seems to speak to us, and the burden of His words is: ‘I bring to you that which is highest and best for time and eternity; I bring to you the assurance that there is no grief and no sorrow that is not always in the Father’s sight and may not be turned into blessing. I bring to you a power by which evil thoughts and tendencies may be destroyed. I bring to you whose memories are full of sad and bad recollections the assurance that no life can have been so wicked, no past so foul, no strength so far gone as to cut off from the love of God and His willingness to save.’ ”
— Amory Howe Bradford
Holy Week: Good Friday & the Crucifixion
‘Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Black Friday, Great Friday, is a holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his death at Calvary, and his Resurrection from the grave [he is risen]. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover.
Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter’s reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20) arrives at the same date, namely Friday April 3, AD 33.
"The Judas Kiss" by
Gustave Doré, 1866.
According to the accounts in the Gospels, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) (Matthew 26:14-16) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).
Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66). Peter, waiting in the courtyard, also denies Jesus three times to bystanders while the interrogations were proceeding. Jesus already knew that Peter would deny him three times. See the article Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus regarding the two trials, one at night, the other in the morning and how their timing may affect the day of Good Friday.
A Good Friday procession in Bombay by Indian Roman Catholics,
depicting the Way of the Cross
In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own Law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31).
Pilate questions Jesus, and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16).
It was a custom during the feast of Passover for the Romans to release one prisoner as requested by the Jews. Pilate asks the crowd whom they would like to be released. Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, "Crucify him" (Mark 15:6-14). Pilate’s wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day; she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (Matthew 27:19).
Pilate has Jesus flogged, then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death "because he claimed to be God’s son." This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came (John 19:1-9).
Antonio Ciseri’s depiction of
Ecce Homo with Jesus and
Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent, washing his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27:24-26) and ultimately to keep his job. The sentence written is "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or "Golgotha" in Hebrew and in Latin "Calvary". There he is crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22).
Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3pm, there is darkness over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, "Truly this was God’s Son!" (Matthew 27:45-54)
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, goes to Pilate to request the body of Jesus (Luke 23:50-52). Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the body of Christ (John 19:39-40). Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (Mark 15:44). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19:34), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead (Mark 15:45).
Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus, wraps it in a clean linen shroud, and places it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27:59-60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion. Nicodemus (John 3:1) also came bringing 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and places them in the linen with the body of Jesus, according to Jewish burial customs (John 19:39-40). They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27:60). Then they returned home and rested, because at sunset began Shabbat (Luke 23:54-56). On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus rose from the dead.
In the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church treats Good Friday as a fast day, which in the Latin Rite of the Church is understood as having only one full meal (but smaller than a regular meal – often substituting meat with fish) and two collations (a smaller repast, two of which together do not equal one full meal). In countries where Good Friday is not a day of rest from work, the afternoon liturgical service is usually put off until a few hours after the recommended time of 3 p.m.
Crucifix prepared for veneration
on Good Friday.
The Roman Rite ordinarily has no celebration of Mass after that of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening until that of the Easter Vigil unless a special exemption is granted for rare solemn or grave occasions by the Vatican or the local bishop, and the only sacraments celebrated are Baptism (for those in danger of death), Penance and Anointing of the Sick. While there is no celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful only in the Service of the Passion of the Lord, but can be taken at any hour to the sick who are unable to attend this service.
The altar remains completely bare, without cross, candlesticks or altar cloths. It is customary to empty the holy water fonts in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. Traditionally, no bells are rung on Good Friday or Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil.
The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally at three o’clock, but for pastoral reasons a later hour may be chosen. The vestments used are red (more commonly) or black (more traditionally). Before 1970, they were black except for the Communion part of the rite, for which violet was used, and before 1955 black was used throughout. If a bishop celebrates, he wears a plain mitre.
The liturgy consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.
The first part, the Liturgy of the Word, consists of the reading or chanting of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9, and the Passion account from the Gospel of John, which is often divided between more than one singer or reader. This part concludes with a series of prayers: for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, those in special need.
The second part of the Good Friday liturgy is the Veneration of the Cross: a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, is solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible, while special chants are sung.
Communion from the Blessed
Sacrament on Good Friday
(Our Lady of Lourdes,
The third and last part is Holy Communion according to a rite based on that of the final part of Mass, beginning with the Our Father, but omitting the ceremony of "Breaking of the Bread" and its related chant, the "Agnus Dei." The Eucharist, consecrated at the Mass of Holy Thursday is distributed at this service. Before the reform of Pope Pius XII, only the priest received Communion in the framework of what was called the "Mass of the Presanctified", which included the usual Offertory prayers, with the placing of wine in the chalice, but which omitted the Canon of the Mass.
Priest and people then depart in silence, and the altar cloth is removed, leaving the altar bare except for the cross and two or four candlesticks.
The Way of the Cross,
celebrated at the Colosseum
in Rome on Good Friday.
In addition to the prescribed liturgical service, the Stations of the Cross are often prayed either in the church or outside, and a prayer service may be held from midday to 3.00 p.m., known as the Three Hours’ Agony. In countries such as Malta, Italy, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Spain, processions with statues representing the Passion of Christ are held.
In Polish churches, a tableau of Christ’s Tomb is unveiled in the sanctuary. Many of the faithful spend long hours into the night grieving at the Tomb, where it is customary to kiss the wounds on the Lord’s body. A life-size figure of Christ lying in his tomb is widely visited by the faithful, especially on Holy Saturday. The tableaux may include flowers, candles, figures of angels standing watch, and the three crosses atop Mt Calvary, and much more. Each parish strives to come up with the most artistically and religiously evocative arrangement in which the Blessed Sacrament, draped in a filmy veil, is prominently displayed.
Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ
The Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus suffered during his Passion on Good Friday. These Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins against Jesus. Some such prayers are provided in the Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) which also includes prayers as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary.
In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as "some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury" with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II referred to Acts of Reparation as the "unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified".
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer did not specify a particular rite to be observed on Good Friday but local custom came to mandate an assortment of services, including the Seven Last Words from the Cross and a three-hour service consisting of Matins, Ante-communion (using the Reserved Sacrament in high church parishes) and Evensong. In recent times revised editions of the Prayer Book and Common Worship have re-introduced pre-Reformation forms of observance of Good Friday corresponding to those in today’s Roman Catholic Church, with special nods to the rites that had been observed in the Church of England prior to the Henrican, Edwardian and Elizabethan reforms, including Creeping to the Cross.
Other Protestant Traditions
Many Protestant communities hold special services on this day as well. In the German Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, this was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected. Lutheranism had no restrictions on the celebration of Holy Communion on Good Friday; on the contrary, it was a prime day on which to receive Holy Communion, and services were often accentuated by special music such as the St Matthew Passion by Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach. Mid-20th century Lutheran liturgical practice moved away from Holy Communion celebrated on Good Friday, and among the major North American Lutheran bodies today, Holy Communion may not be celebrated on Good Friday, but rather on Maundy Thursday. However, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in its official service book, Lutheran Service Book, does permit the offering of the Eucharist also on Good Friday. Moravians hold a Lovefeast on Good Friday as they receive Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. The Methodist Church also commemorates Good Friday with a service of worship, often based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross.
Some Baptist, Pentecostal, many Sabbatarian and non-denominational churches oppose the observance of Good Friday, instead observing the Crucifixion on Wednesday to coincide with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (which Christians believe is an Old Testament pointer to Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb ("heart of the earth") for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees he would be (Matthew 12:40), rather than two nights and a day if he had died on a Friday.
Our deliverance is at hand. In this reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, St. Paul explains that the New Covenant, like the Old, had to be sealed in blood. This time, however, the blood is not the blood of calves and goats that Moses offered at the foot of Mount Sinai, but the Blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Christ is both the Sacrifice and the High Priest; by His death, He has entered Heaven, where He "may appear now in the presence of God for us."
But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those trangressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth. Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood.
For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying: This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Jesus is not entered into the holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holies, every year with the blood of others: For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world: but now once at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment: So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; the second time he shall appear without sin to them that expect him unto salvation.
- Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: Holy Week…
Wikipedia: Good Friday…
About.com: Scriptural Reading for the Thursday of Holy Week…
GIGA Quote: Good Friday…