Good Friday

Worship for Good Friday

Jesus, despised and rejected, mocked and abused, crucified like a common criminal. A day of darkness and despair, yet a day of infinite hope: the mystery to ponder that ‘by his wounds we are healed’ – the Son of God, in ways our minds cannot begin to understand, giving his life that we might live.  

You may like to hold a cross, or place a cross in front of you, as you read today’s
Bible passage: Luke 23 v. 26-27 and 32-49

The Crucifixion of Jesus

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: ‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.’

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.


For reflection: ‘and darkness came over the whole land’

It was August 11th 1999, and a once-in-a-lifetime moment as we joined the crowds making their way up the hill in Pembrokeshire. There was quite a party atmosphere, with mounting excitement as the hour for the total eclipse of the sun approached … and then an eerie silence as the sky darkened; animals and birds fell quiet; and the coldness in the air made you shiver.

Then, little more than three months ago, another kind of darkness. ‘Australia’s bushfire day of terror’ – said one newspaper headline. ‘The black shadows of smoke and ash made early morning in the seaside town of Mallacoota seem like midnight’

And now, in recent weeks, here in Britain and around the world, a different darkness: one that has shut down many aspects of life that we have taken for granted; a darkness facing those who are sick or those who work tirelessly in the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic; the loneliness of those in isolation and the despair of those unable to visit loved ones who are critically ill.

 “It’s easy to think of the Crucifixion as something that happened a long time ago. But for some people every day is Good Friday. People forced into poverty, those who are homeless. Those seeking asylum. People crushed by debt and treated with contempt by the powerful. Jesus is crucified today in their suffering …”   (David Rhodes: ‘It wasn’t the nails’ A reflection on the Cross – Wild Goose publications)

It’s easy to dwell on the darkness around us today, and to sink into despair and gloom. Yet centuries ago the psalmist had confidence in God that whatever happened ‘even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you’ (Psalm 139 v. 12).

Jesus brought a sure hope, the promise of new life even in the face of death, to the criminal crucified alongside him. Later, Paul would declare with confidence that NOTHING, not even death itself, would be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8 v. 39)

So today, as we take time to sense the desolation and darkness of Good Friday – we do so not to be dragged further into despair, but in the sure knowledge that in the crucified and risen Christ lies a reality of new life, and light and hope.

So, in awe and wonder, let us echo Isaac Watts words:

(When I survey the wondrous cross, Singing the Faith 287)

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

that were an offering far too small;

love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all.


We take time to pray:

  • for ourselves, bringing our hopes and our fears to God
  • for those we love, especially those from whom we must be isolated
  • for people and situations that deeply concern us, in local communities or across the world.

Loving Lord, we remember those for whom darkness is very real today: the darkness of fear or anxiety, of pain or grief, of loneliness and isolation.

In Christ you reach out in us in the darkness. We place our trust in your sure promises of peace and comfort, blessing and new life.  Thank you Lord.

Dear God, 

We remember today the pain and suffering of the Cross

and all that Jesus was willing to endure.

Forgive us that so often we take your gift of love for granted.

Thank you that we can look on the Cross with sure hope and confidence,

for we know the victory that we shall celebrate on Easter Day.

Sin and death have been conquered,

and your power to change and renew is everlasting.

Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

A hymn for today

(Graham Kendrick, Singing the Faith 272)

From heaven you came, helpless babe,

Entered our world, your glory veiled;

Not to be served but to serve,

And give your life that we might live.

   This is our God, the Servant King,

   He calls us now to follow him,

   To bring our lives as a daily offering

   Of worship to the Servant King.

There in the garden of tears,

My heavy load he chose to bear;

His heart with sorrow was torn,

‘Yet not my will but yours,’ he said.

   This is our God …

Come, see his hands and his feet,

The scars that speak of sacrifice,

Hands that flung stars into space

To cruel nails surrendered.

   This is our God …

So let us learn how to serve,

And in our lives enthrone him;

Each other’s needs to prefer,

For it is Christ we’re serving.

   This is our God …

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