Here are some meditations for Good Friday based on a version of the Stations of the Cross which we used today at All Hallows’
- Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
- Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
- Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
- Jesus is denied by Peter,
- Jesus is judged by Pilate,
- Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
- Jesus takes up his cross,
- Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
- Jesus is crucified,
- Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief,
- Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
- Jesus dies on the cross,
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36)
…. on the rare occasion we actually slow down long enough to pray, worship, reflect or simply be in the moment, we have no idea how to do it. I watch people in church, and it’s clear from the body language that we don’t know how to slow down. I had a friend back in Texas who was so bad about overworking himself that he’d get sick every single time he took a vacation.
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. “The one I kiss is the man,” he said. “Arrest him.” (Matthew 26:48)
Surely this will prompt him into action? Won’t he now declare himself as Messiah, as King, as liberator? Haven’t I done what God wants by precipitating this confrontation? God, isn’t this what you want? A revolution? An uprising? Your kingdom here on Earth?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
Then they spit in his face. They hit him with their fists. Others slapped him. They said, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:67-68)
Again Jesus is tempted to show his power, to demonstrate that God is on his side, that he can call on all of the powers in the heavenly realms. Compared to some of the other temptations this is a feeble attempt but he still chose to stick to his path.
Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12)
4. Jesus is denied by Peter
Peter went outside. He broke down and sobbed. (Matthew 26:75)
Lord, I so often deny you in my everyday life. I misunderstand the revolution that you want in my life and the world. My life says “I don’t know the man!” Forgive me!
5. Jesus is judged by Pilate
So he took water and washed his hands in front of them. “I am not guilty of this man’s death,” he said. “You are accountable for that!” (Matthew 27:24)
“What is truth?” asked Pilate.
“It’s not my fault” said Pilate.
“You are responsible” said Pilate.
“I am the one in charge around here!”
6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium. All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. They took off his clothes and put a purple robe on him. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honour you, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him. They hit him on the head with the stick again and again. (Matthew 27:27-30)
All the earthly trappings of kingship are a mockery of the true king. Are our imaginations so limited!
7. Jesus takes up his cross
Then they led him away (Matthew 27:31)
Led like a lamb to the slaughter
In silence and shame,
There on Your back
You carried a world
Of violence and pain.
Bleeding, dying, bleeding, dying
8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross
On their way out of the city, they met a man from Cyrene. His name was Simon. They forced him to carry the cross. (Matthew 27:32)
Simon, carry my cross
It’s so heavy
They beat me till I fell
My strength has gone
And now I need your help.
It’s hard to follow this through
But it’s something I have to do
This death I die for you
For I love you more
Than you will ever know, ever know.
Simon, go back to the crowd
They’ve gathered to watch me die
It will be over soon
A few hours more
And then you will be free, be free.
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
A large number of people followed Jesus. Some were women whose hearts were filled with sorrow. They cried loudly because of him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the women who can’t have children! Blessed are those who never gave birth or nursed babies!’ It is written,
“‘The people will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
They’ll say to the hills, “Cover us!”’
People do these things when trees are green. So what will happen when trees are dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)
Not everyone was calling for Jesus to die, in fact “a large number of people followed Jesus”. So what was really happening? Was it a minority who got their way? Did the majority get ignored? Or did they not speak out?
10. Jesus is crucified
When they had nailed him to the cross, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. They sat down and kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him. It read, THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Matthew 27:35-37)
“Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered”
11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief
“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.” (Frederick Buechner)
12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
Jesus saw his mother there. He also saw the disciple he loved standing nearby. Jesus said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
13. Jesus dies on the cross
After Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he died. (Matthew 27:50)
Here I am meditating on the broken body that holds the divine and the human in the mysterious way that only the Omniscient understands.
Today, I reflect on this body of Christ. It beckons me and I’m reminded once again that the violence and death that happened on that dark day lingers still.
It lingers still because we all are created in the image of God.
Of all the brokenness in the world today — that which is reported in the news and that which transpires unnoticed, cloaked in silence and shadows — on this day, my thoughts go to the millions of women and children who are trafficked. I am reminded that they are sold, ravaged, beaten, torn and bid on for a price. They are not able to use their own agency and live lives fulfilling the image of God within them because of the continual dehumanization and rejection of that same divine image.
The feeling is overwhelming and my heart is heavy. In silence, I return to the cross.
I return to the evidence of death on the cross for an answer and I am reminded of what is to come in three days.
I am reminded of hope.
I am reminded of love.
I am reminded of my responsibility and of the urgency to act, to speak — to be the hands and feet.
(Aimee Kang, office manager for Sojourners)
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb. (Matthew 27:59-61)
It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming