church service Good Friday

Good friday







They Went Out and Followed Him   (Good Friday reading, from ‘Stages On the Way’ Iona Worship Group)

They Went Out and Followed Him

Those who had sat with Him at the table

He Led them to a garden

Where He prayed while they slept,

      prayed while they slept

      prayed while they slept

He was kissed,

And because he was kissed he was arrested,

And when He was arrested, His friends fled,

Some to go into hiding, one to stand beside a bonfire and say,

“I never knew Him”

“I never knew Him”

“I never knew Him”

Until a cock crowed...

He was brought before the religious authorities and accused of the sin of blasphemy

And of threatening insurrection.

Having no power to deal with Him they handed Him over to the state governor,

Who listened to the accusations and then asked the accused:

What have you got to say?

What have you got to say?

What have you got to say?

To which the response was silence... He had said it all.

He was not found to be guilty of any criminal charges, but because he was an embarrassment,

it was decided that his own people should determine His fate.

This they did by shouting,

Crucify Him

Crucify Him

Crucify Him

He was cursed and spat on,

Whipped and humiliated,

And on His shoulders a cross was placed – which He accepted with grace.

Under the weight of this cross He stumbled and fell

stumbled and fell

                                                      stumbled and fell

Along the road to calvary.

On top of the rubbish dump,

He was nailed to a cross of wood – and left to die,

While soldiers gambled,

Critics joked,

Religious people smiled with satisfaction

And his mother watched and waited

    watched and waited

    watched and waited

Until in the end she saw a sign of the beginning




After His arrest Thursday night, over the next 24 hours Jesus would be interrogated six different times; by the Priests, the Pharisees, king Herod, and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.

Jesus would be brutally treated, and finally crucified.

No voice spoke out in His defence, no one stuck up for Him.

He Himself did not speak in His defence, fulfilling the 700 year old prophecy of Isaiah (53:7), 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 its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.’     

Finally the high Priest asked Jesus, “are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”  

Jesus emphatically admitted that He was, declaring Himself equal with God.

He was charged with Blasphemy and sentenced to death.

The members of the Jewish council would have probably smirked to think that the wretched looking man before them that day could have been the Son of God.

There were plenty of loonies around claiming to be the Messiah, they were not executed they were merely locked away. Why wasn’t Jesus treated like one of those mad men?

The answer is that He wasn’t mad. He always proved by His actions and the things He said that He was a perfectly rational, sane, individual.

Then maybe He was deluded? Just a huge ego case? A megalomaniac?

Megalomaniacs don’t wash feet. Jesus’ humility was amazing.

Jesus had also performed the most incredible miracles to prove His uniqueness. But the religious leaders preferred to attribute them to the power of the devil, rather than the power of God.

The very ones who should have recognised Him, chose to reject Him.

Jesus could have easily talked His way out of His predicament and saved His skin.

To the Romans anyone who claimed to be a king was a threat to the empire, and to the Jews Blasphemy was the most serious crime.

But it was at His trial before the Jews that He claimed to be God, and at His trial before the Romans that He claimed to be a king; and when He made these claims He was not mad, He was not deluded, and He was not lying. He was telling the truth, because that is what and who He is.  And 2000 years later we worship Him as God, and king of our lives.

The kingdom Jesus would rule over would not be a mere piece of real estate in the corner of Palestine; over a small group of locals; For a puny length of earth time. His kingdom would rule over the hearts and minds of all mankind, throughout the whole earth, for all eternity.

And only God could accomplish that.

Jesus would be the cornerstone of a kingdom that had its beginnings before time on earth began.  But first as was prophesied, He would have to suffer, be rejected and die.

Jesus was handed over to the soldiers to be mistreated. He was stripped and beaten, He had His beard pulled out, He was blindfolded and punched, harassed, tormented and suffered jeers and taunts.

He was flogged with a whip with tassels fixed with sharp pieces of metal, pottery and bone. Each of the 39 lashes tore flesh from His back.

He was forced to carry the cross piece, a heavy wooden beam, up the via dolorosa, a steep winding street to the hill of Golgotha - the skull, the town’s garbage dump, where He was crucified between two thieves. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, and there he was suspended to linger in absolute agony. His crime was written above His head - ‘This is the king of the Jews’

It was while He hung there between heaven and earth, hearing the mocks and insults of the crowd, and seeing the soldiers gambling for His clothing that He said, “Forgive them Father for they don’t realise what they’re doing.”

When one of the thieves asked forgiveness Jesus promised, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” When He saw His mother Mary with His disciple John in the crowd, He entrusted John to look after Her.

In His agony He called out, “I am thirsty” but when he was offered the wine vinegar that would deaden the pain, He refused it.  

At 3:00 in the afternoon a darkness came over the land. Jesus cried out in a loud voice "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"— which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)  He was quoting Psalm 22, the psalm of the righteous sufferer.  

He committed His spirit to His Father and gave His final words, “It is finished.”

At sundown the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two thieves, hastening their deaths, as they then could no longer put any weight on their nailed feet, and keep their chests from sagging. They would then asphyxiate.

But they found that Jesus was already dead, so they did not break His legs, they pierced His side with a spear, and John, the eyewitness, records that he saw blood and water flow from the wound.

The spear penetrated the pericardium surrounding the heart. Jesus was truly dead, and the prophecies of Isaiah were fulfilled - ‘He was pierced for our sins’, and ‘not one of His bones would be broken.’        

Joseph of Arimathea arranged for Jesus’ body to be put in His own tomb. It was sealed by a huge stone disk across the entrance, and a guard was posted.

The cross could be viewed as the symbol of ultimate defeat. Not only was it a despicably cruel instrument of torture and execution, it was the instrument upon which man killed His creator. 

The greatest crime of the universe was committed on two pieces of wood.

A tree, a gift of God for the benefit of mankind, was cut up and turned into a cruel device

upon which man took the Son of God, a gift for the benefit of mankind, and hung Him up to die.

But the cross is not a symbol of defeat, it is a symbol of triumph, of hope, and life.

For the seed of God was placed in the ground, and it gave birth to new life, eternal life.

In Jesus God chose the way of weakness; In the cross God chose the despised way and the way of shame to show that love can conquer power and hatred and mistrust.

The cross absorbed the shock of the greatest crime of the universe, and in return it shone with God’s forgiveness, mercy compassion, and acceptance.

The worst that man could do, was taken and returned with the best that God could do.  



Saviour of the World

Saviour of the world,

What have you done to deserve this?

And what have we done to deserve you?

Strung up between criminals

Cursed and spat upon

You wait for death

And look at us

For us whose sin has crucified you

To the mystery of undeserved suffering

You bring the deeper mystery of unmerited love.

Forgive us for not knowing what we have done;

Open our eyes to what we are doing now,

As through wood and nails

You dis-empower our depravity

And transform us by your grace.