Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Good Friday . . . I really think not. Good Friday – the name just seems so strange when you think about it.
Good Friday . . . this is most definitely not a “good” Friday.
Talk about a day that feels misnamed. Good Friday . . . what in heaven or on earth could ever be good about this day of all days. This day started off bad and just got worse and worse and worse with each passing moment.
This day is Bad Friday – Horrible Friday – Heartbreaking Friday. This day is Tragic Friday – but not good. Most definitely not good. Nothing about today feels good or right.
Jesus has been arrested after being falsely accused of crimes he would never – could never have committed. Blasphemy against God the Father – or seeking worldly riches and power. As if – Jesus would ever do anything like that.
Jesus was put on trial – but his trial was anything but fair. The outcome of Jesus’ trial was determined long before his arrest.
Jesus was taunted – tormented – and tortured. Jesus was beaten and mocked. And then they nailed Jesus to a Roman cross. They crucified Jesus. They drove thick spikes into Jesus’ wrists and ankles . . .
Crucifixion . . . Well – if the very word makes your stomach churn that is exactly what Rome wanted. That is exactly was crucifixion was designed to do. Crucifixion was designed by Rome to be a horrifying – excruciating – shocking – incredibly painful and slow way to die.
Crucifixion was designed to strike terror into the hearts and souls of everyone who saw it. And lots of people saw it because crucifixions happened in public.
Imagine your own death being a public spectacle. Imagine your fear – your pain – your suffering – your humiliation – your heartache – your very death being other people’s entertainment? (And we thought people were cruel on social media!?!?)
This is what happened to Jesus on Good Friday. Jesus hung dying on a Roman cross in horrible – unimaginable pain as people watched.
So why do we call this day Good Friday . . . We call it good – because we know the rest of the story. We call it good because we know the why behind all of this suffering and pain. We call it good because we know there is more to come. So – so very much more to come.
We call it good – because of the incredible blessing Jesus’ death on the cross is for each of us.
We call it good – because all of this was for us.
And now – now we are called to journey with Jesus to the cross. And as we go with Jesus – let us all remember – this was for us. All of this was for us.
(Calling the day of the of Jesus’ crucifixion and death Good Friday is unique to those of us who speak the English language. In German, for example, it is called Mourning Friday. After all, that is what Jesus’ disciples did on that long ago Friday – they mourned for Jesus.
Some scholars believe we started out calling this day “God’s Friday,” and somehow over time the word “God” got switched to “Good.” Another example of this would be the phrase “God be with you,” which today is simply “good-bye.”)
The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 18:1-19:42
[Jesus] went out with his disciples to a place where there was a garden. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
So they arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “Are you one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
Then the high priest questioned Jesus. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said; they know.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “Are you not also one of his disciples?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation has handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When they saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull. There they crucified him, and with him two others. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier.
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.