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Good Friday Sermon and Worship resources

Other Holy Week Events

 

Resources for Good Friday

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Texts & Discussions

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22
Hebrews 10:16-25 or
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

This Week's Themes:

Suffering and Death of our Lord Jesus

Redemption of Humanity
 

 
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The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross
a sermon based the gospel account of Jesus' Death

Jesus' death by crucifixion may well be one of the most agonizing forms of torture and execution that humanity has ever devised. It was usually a long and protracted procedure, occupying two to three days. It was not blood loss that eventually led to the death but the victim's inability to lift his head up far enough from his chest to breathe; and therefore he would die of suffocation. Jesus actually dies unusually quickly for a crucified victim. Perhaps this is due to the lashes, that scourging or flogging that Pilate had ordered the Roman soldiers to give Jesus previously in hopes that that would satisfy the Jewish leaders. Or perhaps there is a more supernatural or voluntary element to Jesus' death, since it appears He has the strength to still cry out with a loud voice just before He dies. Perhaps the gospel writers want us to understand that even in the moment of Jesus' greatest agony He is able to consciously and voluntarily lay down His life.

The as Jesus' seven last words on the cross, actually referring not to individual words but to the seven sayings that the gospel writers, all four of them (in different places) record. There are differences in the sequence of these seven last words of Christ; the sequence I chose is not in any way more significant than other sequences:

1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." -- The first words that are recorded from Jesus on the cross show that even in this situation of great agony He is prepared to forgive His accusers, His torturers, His enemies, as He cries out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Jesus exhibits under the most extreme and difficult circumstances his own teaching in the Sermon on the Mount calling his followers to love their enemies. If Jesus could forgive the ones that unjustly tortured and murdered him who never committed a sin, then we--who are sinful-- should also be able to forgive those who wronged us to a much lesser degree.

2. Jesus turns to one of the thieves or criminals (better translated "rebels" or "insurrectionists") surrounding Him on the two crosses on either side of Him, who has cried out for remembrance when Jesus comes into His kingdom. Jesus replies, "Truly, today you will be with me in paradise." Upon his death, he can enjoy the presence of God the Father in eternal bliss. We must not forget how controversial "death-bed" conversions have been regarded in the history of Christianity--perhaps most notably the death-bed baptism of emperor Constantine. Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus reaches out in an incredible show of grace and love to a repentant person. Jesus' grace is so wide, deep and so great that it even encompasses last minute conversions.

3. "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother." Jesus turns to his mother and to the beloved disciple, the apostle John, and says, "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother"-speaking of both of them in terms of family endearment. Even on the cross He has not forgotten those closest to Him. Many believe that Joseph, Jesus' adopted father, may well have died by now, and therefore He is calling upon His beloved disciple John to care for Mary, His mother. Incidentally, John was the only one of the disciples who, according to legend, lived to be into his 90s and died of natural causes.... [ full manuscript ]

Good Friday
 

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