Good Friday Reflection

Song 114 (SA Song Book) Jesus came down my ransom to be

Prayer

JESUS IS CONDEMNED Matthew 27:11-14, 22-25, 26b

Jesus stood before the Roman governor, who questioned him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked.”So you say,” answered Jesus. But he said nothing in response to the accusations of the chief priests and elders. So Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear all these things they accuse you of?” But Jesus refused to answer a single word, with the result that the Governor was greatly surprised. “What shall I do with Jesus called the Messiah?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they all answered. But Pilate asked, “What crime has he committed?” Then they started shouting at the top of their voices: “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that it was no use to go on, but that a riot might break out, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am not responsible for the death of this man! This is your doing!” He had Jesus whipped, he handed him over to be crucified.

Reflection

Why doesn t Jesus say anything?  Why doesn t he proclaim who he is?  Why doesn t he confront the disbelief of the crowds and the arrogant cowardice of the powers that be?  But he says nothing.  Surely there are others who will speak up for him?  Where are the lepers who were healed?  Where are the blind who can now see?  Where are all the people who ate the bread and fish on the hillside?  Where are those who followed Jesus so easily when they thought he would become King of the Jews?  Yet no one speaks.  No voice in the crowd comes to Jesus defence.  Jesus stands alone.  Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, the power of Rome.  Weakness stands before strength.  And yet, Pilate, the ruthless enforcer for the Empire is not really in control here.  He cannot make Jesus confess.  He cannot quiet the crowds.  For all his power, he cannot find the courage to do what is right.  So he does what is safe.  He yields to the crowds for the sake of order.  Pilate washes his hands – a symbol of his lack of courage and strength and power – his lack of commitment to do what is right and just.  The One who stands before the governor in chains, bruised from the beatings, spit on his face, is the person with real strength.  Pilate washes his hands and abandons Jesus,  but Jesus does not wash his hands of the Father s will or of us.  He is determined to love you and me  regardless of the cost.

Response

God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. (Romans 8:32)

Lord Jesus, we are ashamed to admit how often we wash our hands of you. Give us the courage to follow you, even when all others reject you. Help us to be determined and firm in our conviction that following your will and showing love to all is more important than any other treasure that we have in this life. Grant that the way of the cross may be for us the way of life and peace. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Singing Company  Mary’s Song

JESUS IS CROWNED WITH THORNS AND MOCKED Matthew 27:27-31

Then Pilate’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s palace, and the whole company gathered around him. They stripped off his clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. Then they made a crown out of thorny branches and placed it on his head, and put a stick in his right hand; then they knelt before him and made fun of him. “Long live the King of the Jews!” they said. They spat on him, and took the stick and hit him over the head. When they had finished making fun of him, they took the robe off and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Reflection

I cringe at the pain of the thorns.  But I am wounded far more deeply at the humiliation and degradation Jesus suffered.  Stripped naked for all to stare at.  A crown of thorns thrust on his head.  A stick in his hand and a scarlet robe on his shoulders.  Soldiers bowing in mockery – spitting, hitting and whipping.  How cruel people can be towards their fellow human beings.  We hear of men, women and children suffering and dying at the hands of others, even those who claim to love them.  How unkind can we be to the people around us?  We like to think that we are ready to follow Jesus who offers us peace and love.
But are we?  Are we willing to let love and peace control us and lead us to live as people who truly want to serve others, even though it may not always be easy or convenient? There in Pilate s courtyard we see a true servant. He was willing to endure anything, no complaints, no protesting his innocence, no cursing, simply accepting the cross for us. Enduring all things for us. The thorns, the whip, the mockery, the nails, the cruel death – he did it all for us. He loves us even though it is our sin that caused him so much pain.

Response

Because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did. (Isaiah 53:5)

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing yourself to be tried and condemned and scourged. For the joy of bringing salvation to all people and because of your great love for us, you endured the shame and pain.

Songs of Fellowship 633 You laid aside your majesty

SIMON CARRIES THE CROSS Luke 23:26

The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Reflection

I can only imagine the awful weight of the cross Jesus carried.  It is not just the weight of beams of wood that pressed down on him;  it is also the weight of the burden that he carried for those whom he loved.  He came to offer them life, and yet they return only death.  So we see Jesus fall from the crushing weight of pain and grief.  His physical strength is failing.  The soldiers must have recognized this as well,  because they forced a man from the crowd  to help Jesus carry the cross the rest of the way  to the place where he will be crucified.  Simon from Cyrene was just a bystander  passing through on his way into town from the countryside.  And yet he bears the weight of the cross to save Jesus strength.  I would like to think that if I had been there  I would have rushed from the crowd and volunteered to carry that cross for Jesus.  But would I have had the courage to face the Roman soldiers  and risk being forced to walk with Jesus and his cross?  Would I have really been so eager to share his cross  or would I have tried to be invisible in the crowd?When the soldiers were looking around for someone to press into service,  would I have looked away and pretended not to notice what was happening? It s easy to pretend not to see the needs, the grief, and the suffering around me every day. It s easy to pretend not to hear the cries for help that come in many forms from those among whom I walk every day. It is easy to convince myself that I am too busy, or too tired, or have too much on my plate already to get involved in the lives of others. There are simply too many who need too much. And yet, I remember something that Jesus said, something about taking up my own cross and following him. Jesus said something about becoming a servant of all, of putting myself last and others first. Is this what it means to be a servant? Is Jesus showing me what it means to be that kind of servant? Is this man from Cyrene modelling for me the path of discipleship?

Response

Those who do not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:27)

Heavenly Father, your Son came not to be served, but to serve. Forgive us for becoming so preoccupied with ourselves  that we have become deaf and blind to the grief and suffering of those around us.  Constantly remind us that we cannot love you  without loving others as well.  Help us to always remember that to be a follower of yours  means that we share in the burdens of others.  Lord, show us someone whose cross we may help carry.  Amen.

Song 126 (SA Song Book)   On Calvary s tree

JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS CLOTHES John 19:23-25

After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier. They also took the robe, which was made of one piece of woven cloth without any seams in it. The soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it; let’s throw dice to see who will get it.” This happened in order to make the scripture come true: “They divided my clothes among themselves and gambled for my robe.” And this is what the soldiers did.

Reflection

Jesus is forced to suffer the worst of human indignity.  He stands alone as the soldiers strip from him the last thing  that he possesses,  and play games to see who will claim it.  They thought Jesus was no different to the hundreds of other criminals they crucify.  Yet…he is. He is completely different.  Just yesterday, Jesus removed his cloak and laid it aside to wash his disciples’ feet.  Now he s allowing others to strip off his clothes.  He could have stopped it, stopped their gambling, stopped them stripping him.  He could have stopped it all with a breath, with a word!  Yet, he doesn t.  He allows them to publicly disgrace and ridicule him.  He is left with nothing, nothing, not even human decency.  He gave away everything to be utterly humiliated, stripped naked, for us?  For me and you? Why?
We have nothing of worth to give him.  We can t pay him back for this.  Where is our gratitude for this?  Why does he allow himself to be so humiliated –  because of his total commitment to you and me.  He lays aside everything for us.

Response

They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. (Psalm  22:17b-18)

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)

Father, we thank you that Jesus willingly allowed himself to be humiliated because of his deep commitment to each of us. He stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross so that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace. So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of Jesus and all that he endured for us; for the honour of your name. Amen.

At the foot of the cross – Poems from the cross  (written by local primary school children) – click here to read

JESUS DIES Mark 15:33-34, 37-39

At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” With a loud cry Jesus died. The curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had died. “This man was really the Son of God!” he said

Reflection

It is dark in the middle of the day.  It seems that the heavens and the earth are grieving,
telling us that something is horribly wrong. Jesus, I hear you cry out in lament from the Psalms and know that it is the cry of human pain and desolation. Everyone has forsaken you, but there is one who still hears your prayer – the one you address as my God. The earth shakes. The curtain in the temple is torn right down the middle. The Holy of Holies is exposed for all to see. What does it mean? Who are you? There is even a Roman who thinks that you are the son of God. But you are dead. It s too late. What have we done? Is there any hope? Yet you never stopped loving us even in death. You died because of human sin, because of us. Sin is never the final word. God can redeem the worst that human beings can do. But this? What can come of this? What can God do with such a final ending? We hope, and wait . . . ..

Response

He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross! (Philippians. 2:8b)

O God, you gave your only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and to deliver us from the power of the enemy by his glorious resurrection. May we die to sin each day, so that we may live forever with him who died and rose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Songs of Fellowship 398 My Lord what love is this

Benediction