Good Friday: God’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind through Jesus Christ


Alban D’ Souza –Udyavara
Kemmannu News Network, 06-04-2012 19:57:15


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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life"

Good Friday is of great religious significance to Christians as they commemorate the passion crucifixion and death of Lord Jesus. Good Friday is the Friday within Holy Week, and is a time of fasting and penance; For Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, etc), Good Friday commemorates resurrection of Jesus comprises the heart of the Christian faith.

The name "Good Friday" possibly comes from "God’s Friday," although the exact reason for the current name is unclear. Good Friday, called Charfreitag (Sorrowful Friday) in German, is the English designation of Friday in Holy Week — that is, the Friday on which the Church keeps the anniversary of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Good Friday (from the senses pious, holy of the word "good"), is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, or Easter Friday, though the latter normally refers to the Friday in Easter week.

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” According to St. Paul’s letter: "Believers” are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by is blood..(Romans 3:24-25, ). The customs and prayers associated with Good Friday typically focus on the theme of Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins. The celebration of Good Friday is ancient, the day gradually became a time of penance and fasting as the anniversary of the death of Christ. The evening (at sunset) of Good Friday begins the second day of the Paschal Triduum.

The major Good Friday worship services begin in the afternoon at 3:00 (the time Jesus likely died).Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening The singing (or preaching) of the Passion of St. John’s gospel consists of reading or singing parts of John’s gospel (currently John 18:1-19:42 in the Catholic Church). The veneration of the Cross is also common in the Western Church. This is when Christians approach a wooden cross and venerate it, often by kneeling before it, or kissing part of it. In addition to these traditions, Holy Communion with the reserved host is practiced. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, no Masses are said on Good Friday or Holy Saturday, therefore the reserved host from the Holy Thursday Mass is used. This is called the "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified." Many Churches also offer the Stations of the Cross, also called the "Way of the Cross," on Good Friday. This is a devotion in which fourteen events surrounding the death of Jesus are commemorated. Most Catholic Churches have fourteen images of Jesus’ final days displayed throughout the parish, for use in public Stations of the Cross services.. Various churches observe Good Friday in addition to Catholics and Eastern Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and Lutherans all observe Good Friday to varying degrees. Some Christians may attend special church services or prayer vigils. Good Friday is a day of mourning and quiet prayer for many Christians. The candles are often extinguished and statues, paintings and crosses may be draped in black, purple or gray cloth.

Based on the details of the Canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (John 19:42).[4] Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. 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. Following his arrest, Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the 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 just as Jesus had predicted.

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 guilty in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16). 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, and she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (Matthew 27:19). Pilate has Jesus flogged and 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).

Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent and washed 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 3 p.m., darkness falls 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). And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him... And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. (Mark 15:25, 33)

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 took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed 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 brought 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and placed them in the linen with the body, in keeping with 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 Shabbat had begun at sunset (Luke 23:54-56). On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus rose from the dead.

Fasting and Abstinence:

As Good Friday is the day of fasting Catholics who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast. Good Friday is devoted to fasting and prayer and abstinence as a way of following the example of Jesus, who stressed the role of prayer in the struggle to conquer evil The Catholic Church treats Good Friday as a fast day and on which the faithful abstain from eating meat. Some Catholics treat Good Friday as a day of fasting, while others observe a partial fast involving the exclusion of meat. Some homes keep a quiet atmosphere, with little or no outside activities and limited television, radio, and computer use, in observing Good Friday. Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday; the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith
Lastly Christ died to save us that hold within our body His love, His grace, His mercy, forgiveness and His passion. This is the day of the year that would end quickly for it is a day of mourning and grief. Every minute of this day we constantly think about His suffering. We call this day good only because of ourselves. We are to die with Him on this day. Yet, He has spared us from knowing fully about all that He suffered.

Now imagine being the Son of God, at the same time human like us and divine all-powerful and totally capable of getting off that cross. Jesus could have easily decided to rewind the tape, edit the story, freeze the crowd, and disappear. But He did not because He knew He was on a mission from God to save the world from their sins and bring freedom to men and women cursed by the great fall by disobeying First humans Adam and Eve ultimately on all generations but there is hope of love by God showered upon us by grace who created each and every one we are loved by God through Jesus Christ who forgives our greatest sins if we repent and turn to God. Jesus decided to take the sins of the world on His shoulders so that we might gain forgiveness for our sins and a new and righteous relationship with the One and only True God through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Jesus was so in tune with God that despite His divine power and authority, He submitted His very life to God the Father taking the form of a man like sinful people like us The death of Jesus Christ was the ultimate in humility, the ultimate in love, the ultimate in doing what was right no matter what the cost.

Again Jesus dies to fulfill Prophesy . Many years before the coming of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah gives an incredibly rich and accurate description of Christ’s eventual death. He not only includes the ways in which Jesus would suffer, but why he had to suffer.

Beginning Prophet Isaiah prophesies that “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. (Isaiah 53:5). Also in the New Testament, Jesus foretells His own death: "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:17-18,).

Wish all of you, all the blessings of this Good Friday and hope that on Good Friday celebration remember the extreme love to which our GOD has gone to save each one of us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ref: The Biblical Accounts of the Death and Burial of Jesus
Matthew 27:11-66; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 23:1-56; John 18:28-19:42

By: Alban D’ Souza –Udyavara

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