A Good Friday Contemplation
This Good Friday Contemplation begins in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus is praying passionately to God before the events of that day unfold;
- Reading: Matt. 26:36 – 42
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.
Grief and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, “How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour? Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Once more Jesus went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”
Lord, we thank you for your example of prayerful union with the Father,
and for the anguish you went through.
Forgive us when we are distracted and fail to turn to you in prayer.
Through prayer, and faith in you, help us to face all that lies ahead of us,
whatever that may be.
- Reading: Matt. 26: 45-56
The Betrayal & Arrest of Jesus
Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests and the elders. The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him!”
Judas went straight to Jesus and said, “Peace be with you, Teacher,” and kissed him.
Jesus answered, “Be quick about it, friend!
Then they came up, arrested Jesus, and held him tight. One of those who were with Jesus drew his sword and struck at the High Priest's slave, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “All who take the sword will die by the sword. Don't you know that I could call on my Father for help, and at once he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? But in that case, how could the Scriptures come true which say that this is what must happen?”
Lord, we thank you for your peaceful acceptance of the events of that night.
Forgive us when we have chosen the path of betrayal, or dishonesty,
when we have been lured by pieces of silver.
Help us to follow your example and stay true to our faith, & our calling,
despite unexpected events or chaos in our lives.
Pause to imagine the tensions of that night in Gethsemane:
the noisy crowd with the chief priests, the bewildered half asleep disciples,
and the calmness of Jesus.
Perhaps think about the tensions in your own life
Lord, when there is tension in our lives and nothing seems to be going our way,
Help us to stay calm as you did in the garden that night.
- Reading: Matt.26: 57-67
Jesus before the Council
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the teachers of the Law and the elders had gathered together. Peter followed from a distance, as far as the courtyard of the High Priest's house. He went into the courtyard and sat down with the guards to see how it would all come out.
The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death; but they could not find any, even though many people came forward and told lies about him. Finally two men stepped up and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to tear down God's Temple, and three days later build it back up.”
The High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Have you no answer to give to this accusation against you?” But Jesus kept quiet. Again the High Priest spoke to him, “In the name of the living God I now put you under oath: tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus answered him, “So you say. But I tell all of you: from this time on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven!”
At this the High Priest tore his clothes and said, “Blasphemy! We don't need any more witnesses! You have just heard his blasphemy! What do you think?”
They answered, “He is guilty and must die.”
Lord, we thank you for your courage to stand up to those who arrested you and to stay calm.
Forgive us when we get angry and retaliate if someone criticises us,
and help us never to accuse anyone falsely.
- Reading: Peter denies Jesus. Matt. 26: 69-75
Peter Denies Jesus
Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard when one of the
High Priest's servant women came to him and said,
“You, too, were with Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied it in front of them all. “I don't know what you are talking about,” he answered, and went on out to the entrance of the courtyard. Another servant woman saw him and said to the men there, “He was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Again Peter denied it and answered, “I swear that I don't know that man!”
After a little while the men standing there came to Peter. “Of course you are one of them,” they said. “After all, the way you speak gives you away!”
Then Peter said, “I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know that man!”
Just then a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you do not know me.” He went out and wept bitterly.
Lord, forgive us when we take the easy option and deny you.
When we are afraid to admit that we know you.
Give us the courage to stay firm in our faith,
and not be ashamed to own that we follow you.
- Reading: Matt. 27:1-2,11-14
Jesus Is Taken to Pilate
Early in the morning all the chief priests and the elders made their plans against Jesus to put him to death. They put him in chains, led him off, and handed him over to Pilate, the Roman governor.
Jesus stood before the Roman governor, who questioned him.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked.
“So you say,” answered Jesus. But he said nothing in response to the accusations of the chief priests and elders.
So Pilate said to him, “Don't you hear all these things they accuse you of?”
But Jesus refused to answer a single word, with the result that the Governor was greatly surprised.
Lord, we hear in our reading that you had the wisdom to remain silent in front of Pilate.
Help us to know when we too should keep silent and hold our tongues, for your sake. Amen
- Reading: Matt. 27: 15-26
Jesus Is Sentenced to Death
At every Passover Festival the Roman governor was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner the crowd asked for. At that time there was a well-known prisoner named Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to set free for you? Barabbas or Jesus called the Messiah?” He knew very well that the Jewish authorities had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous.
While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night I suffered much on account of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask Pilate to set Barabbas free and have Jesus put to death. But Pilate asked the crowd, “Which one of these two do you want me to set free for you?”
“Barabbas!” they answered.
“What, then, shall I do with Jesus called the Messiah?” Pilate asked them.
“Crucify him!” they all answered.
But Pilate asked, “What crime has he committed?”
Then they started shouting at the top of their voices: “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that it was no use to go on, but that a riot might break out,
he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said:
“I am not responsible for the death of this man! This is your doing!”
The whole crowd answered, “Let the responsibility for his death fall on us
and on our children!”
Then Pilate set Barabbas free for them; and after he had Jesus whipped, he handed him over to be crucified.
Loving Lord, as we hear the crowds shouting ‘Crucify Crucify’,
we ask ourselves – if we had been there would we have joined in with the crowd?
We ask you Lord, to give us discernment and the courage not to always follow the crowd.
- Reading: Matt.27:27-44
The Soldiers Mock Jesus and take him to be crucified
Then Pilate's soldiers took Jesus into the governor's palace, and the whole company gathered around him. They stripped off his clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. Then they made a crown out of thorny branches and placed it on his head, and put a stick in his right hand; then they knelt before him and made fun of him.
“Long live the King of the Jews!” they said.
They spat on him, and took the stick and hit him over the head. When they had finished making fun of him, they took the robe off and put his own clothes back on him.
Then they led him out to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus' cross. They came to a place called Golgotha, which means, “The Place of the Skull.” There they offered Jesus wine mixed with a bitter substance; but after tasting it, he would not drink it.
They crucified him and then divided his clothes among them
by throwing dice. After that they sat there and watched him.
Above his head they put the written notice of the accusation against him:
“This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Then they crucified two bandits with Jesus, one on his right
and the other on his left.
People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus: “You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up in three days! Save yourself if you are God's Son! Come on down from the cross!”
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and the elders made fun of him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! Isn't he the king of Israel? If he will come down off the cross now, we will believe in him! He trusts in God and claims to be God's Son. Well, then, let us see if God wants to save him now!”
Dying Lord, Suffering Lord, we stand beneath your cross and thank you for your sacrifice.
We thank you for the agony you went through for our sakes.
Forgive us when we turn away from you and forget the love that you redeemed us with that day.
- Reading: Matt.27:45-56
The Death of Jesus
At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. At about three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”
Some of the people standing there heard him and said, “He is calling for Elijah!” One of them ran up at once, took a sponge, soaked it in cheap wine, put it on the end of a stick, and tried to make him drink it.
But the others said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah is coming to save him!”
Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split apart, the graves broke open, and many of God's people who had died were raised to life. They left the graves, and after Jesus rose from death, they went into the Holy City, where many people saw them.
When the army officer and the soldiers with him who were watching Jesus saw the earthquake and everything else that happened, they were terrified and said, “He really was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and helped him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the wife of Zebedee.
Father, hear our prayer and forgive us.
Unstop our ears,
that we may receive the gospel of the cross.
Lighten our eyes,
that we may see your glory in the face of your Son.
Penetrate our minds,
that your truth may make us whole.
Irradiate our hearts with your love,
That we may love one another for Christ’s sake.
Please add your own prayers
To conclude, you may like to find (on you tube) & listen to Kings College Cambridge Choir ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’, and/or something more modern: Chris Tomlin’s ‘I will Boast only in the Cross.