It is sad to me that this most important day to our Christian faith – Good Friday – is often just overlooked as “just another day”. The day that Jesus Christ hung on the cross enduring the pain, agony and shame, not for anything he had done, but for us! To save us from our sin. To heal and make us whole. To keep us from eternal damnation.
Without the cross…..there would be no Resurrection, no hope, no healing, no eternal life.
Yet many believers do not set any time aside to observe this most sacred of days. I remember a time when school was always out on Good Friday, where businesses shut down and closed their doors, where people would take off work to attend a Good Friday service. Today, it is a rare thing to find Christians who are observing Good Friday. (and even more apalling is the number of young people who can’t even tell you what Good Friday is! We better wake up church!)
As a child, we began Good Friday with hot cross buns in the morning as an early reminder of what the day was all about – the cross where Jesus died. My Mom also instituted a 3 hour “quiet time” where we would not be out playing, watching TV or doing chores – but rather we would read our Bibles or think about what Jesus had done for us. While that time may not have been the most “fun” of our family traditions – I can tell you it impacted my life and it is the reason that I have spent my entire adult life observing Good Friday, often times having to take off a day from work to do it.
Our family tradition also includes hot cross buns in the morning! (yummy) After our late night celebrating our Passover, we usually are rolling out of bed a bit later on Friday morning so after breakfast we get the dishes & house cleaned up and then sit down at about 11:30am around the table with our one last candle lit on our cross and read the account of Jesus death on the cross. (usually Matthew Chapter 27)
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews ?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man ; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood ; see to that yourselves.”
And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall ; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.
And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.
And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.
“HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “
The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah. Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.
Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.
At noon we blow out the final candle and we drape the black cloth on a cross in the center of the table to remind us throughout the weekend of the darkness of those three days (On Easter Sunday morning the black clothed cross is replaced on the table with Easter lily’s and bright colors to remind us of the resurrection!) We then close all the curtains & blinds in the house, turn off the lights, lock the doors and turn off all the phones for the next three hours of remembrance.
We began the following tradition when we had several little ones we decided we needed to come up with a Good Friday observance that they could participate in. (in other words I couldn’t figure out how to get a 7, 4, 3 and 18 month old to observe a 3 hour “quiet time”) So this our personal family Good Friday tradition was birthed. We retreat into the family room and watch the movie “Ben Hur”
– a great fictional story that includes a beautiful, moving & powerful depiction of Christ’s death on the cross. It also lasts about 3 hours & 30 minutes so it covers the entire time. In the early years the girls would fall asleep (which was a-ok) – now it is one of their FAVORITE traditions. (In fact my eldest daughter who is currently working in Hawaii – went out and got Ben Hur so she could continue the tradition on her own!)
This year we are also going to attend a Good Friday service at 5:30pm with the older girls.
How are you observing Good Friday? I want to encourage you to do something – if you don’t already! Start today a life long tradition of observing thismost momentous day for believers in Jesus Christ.
(PS – The Passover Christian Seder photos are posted – click here
& scroll to the bottom of the post to see the slide show!)