Day 379 | Friday, 2 April 2021
A Good Friday Invocation
“As we dare to enter your presence, our Father, we remember what a turbulent, soul-shocking day that Friday was. Yet, we call it Good Friday because you turned that dark event into a day of victory. You raised Christ from the dead. His triumph over sin and death has become the source of our salvation. All praise be yours, Father. Glory to you in the highest. Amen.”
Continuing with Matthew chapter 27, it is early in the morning and the decision is to turn Jesus over to Pilate, the governor. The religious leaders have decided that Jesus is to be put to death, but they need Pilate to make that decision. As Judas watches, he regrets his betrayal. He returns the thirty pieces of silver and hangs himself.
Pilate questions Jesus. He also knew that he was caught in the middle of a jealous fit by the religious leaders. So, following a custom he offers a deal. 17 When the crowd had come together, Pilate asked them, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate’s wife encourages him to leave Jesus alone, but he cannot. The chief priests and elders have stirred up the crowds and they demand the release of Barabbas. The crowd demands that Jesus be crucified. Pilate washes his hands and proclaims that he is innocent of this man’s blood. He releases Barabbas and has Jesus whipped before handing him over for crucifixion.
The soldiers mock Jesus by stripping him, placing a red military coat on him and a crown of thorns, bowed to him, spit on him and struck him on his head. They stripped him again, put his clothes back on him and led him away to be crucified.
Simon form Cyrene is forced to carry Jesus’ cross as they go to Golgotha where Jesus is placed upon the cross between two criminals. A sign is placed on the cross which read “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” He is mocked by the people and the leaders as he hangs on the cross. 39 Those who were walking by insulted Jesus, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? Save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way, the chief priests, along with the legal experts and the elders, were making fun of him, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. He’s the king of Israel, so let him come down from the cross now. Then we’ll believe in him. “He saved others” was Jesus’ purpose on earth and that is why he did not save himself, to fulfill that mission.
Darkness descends on the earth from noon until 3pm. At that time Jesus cries out to God and dies. Many of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee were watching from a distance. Joseph of Arimathea had asked Pilate for Jesus’s body for burial. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.
“O God, there is not much to say, for it is a time of listening, waiting, watching. Hearts are heavy as we witness the crucifixion again this day. Forgive us for our own betrayals. [long silence.] Forgive us for our own desertion. [long silence] Forgive us for not raising our voices against injustice. [long silence] Oh God, forgive us, as we pray with sighs too deep for words. [long silence] With your help, we walk through this dark night of the soul, knowing already that the resurrection comes and that we are not left forever in despair. Until that Easter morn, O God, sustain us in the darkness, teach us to walk to the cross and know its’ meaning before we move on. [silence] Amen.”