Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday: The Day He Died For Us

Why is this day, this day for remembering and for weeping called "good"?

It seems that good came from Godes, and it's God's Friday. An apt term. It is the Friday when God the Son died for us according to God the Father's will. The day God died at the command of God for the good of mankind. God's Good Friday.

And Isaiah prophesied of this day:

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,

and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

First thing I said today after I woke up, while still sitting up on the edge of my bed, sans clothing, was "Thank you, Lord Christ, for paying the price of my sins. Today, I remember your sacrifice and your death, the outpouring of your blood to wash me clean." And some bit of praise I needn't type here. And, yeah, I got weepy.

My mother was big on remembering Good Friday. She eschewed meat, she wore black, she didn't play music or watch anything humorous, she prayed, she contemplated. And she'd have her inexpensive copy of MichelAngelo's PIETA somewhere prominent. It was her favorite work of art, that triangular depiction of a beautiful Mary lamenting over the body of her dead son. (Okay, I'm getting all weepy.)

You'd have to be made of marble yourself not to feel some of that grief when you see the PIETA. And I"m not quite that hard.

From the Gospel of John:
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

"They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots."
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

From the gospel of Luke:

Luke 23:50-56
[50] Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, [51] who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. [52] Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. [53] Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. [54] It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

[55] The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. [56] Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Unlike us, they didn't know one really, really wonderful thing: Sunday's coming.

But today is not that day, it's Good Friday. Remember what the Lord has done, remember his sufferings, all done for us.

Readings for GOOD FRIDAY

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