March 30 – Good Friday
by Pastor Pete Scheele
- God’s Will is forgiveness
Reading: Luke 22: 47 – 23: 34
This is not what Jesus wanted.
Of course, He didn’t want the pain. Of course, He didn’t want the humiliation. Of course, He didn’t want the mocking, the beating, the spitting, the dying. But even more than that, Jesus never wanted these people, His people, to reject their rightful King. And this execution among common criminals is the ultimate rejection of Jesus’ claim to be the one who brings God’s will and God’s Kingdom’s reign on earth as in heaven.
This is not what Jesus wanted.
The flogging and crucifixion are breaking His body, but what breaks His heart is love, love that wanted to bring these very people into the kingdom’s reign of God. That love now speaks an amazing word, a word almost too wonderful to understand: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Not judgment, not hate, not vengeance. Even now Jesus stretches out His arms as a hen might gather chicks under her wings; He stretches out His hands to receive nails, and still He prays, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.
We learn that later many became followers of the Way: some who stood at the foot of the cross and laughed and spat and cursed Jesus as He died would later call Him God and Lord. But for now, they reject His saving will completely. And in the face of that rejection, Jesus persists. Jesus is unwilling to give up on them, even as they crucify Him. Jesus is unwilling to give up on you, no matter how devastating your betrayal, how deep your rejection, how persistent your sin.
In response to those who would push Him away, Jesus continues to reach out nail-pierced hands as He prays for the very people who put Him on the cross, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Hymn: #447 (vs. 1 – 3) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The first set of candles are extinguished. The Pulpit and Lectern Paraments will be removed)
- Get what’s coming
Reading: Matthew 27: 33 – 44 and Luke 23: 35 – 43
P: This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
C: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
We kind of like it when people get what’s coming to them. We have little sympathy for people who are just getting what they deserve. But God our Savior desires all people to be saved. Think of that! Our Savior doesn’t want people to get what’s coming to them; Jesus doesn’t want you to get what you deserve. Jesus desires all to be saved, even this thief, even this common criminal who deserves the death that’s coming to him.
At the cross is Jesus being mediator and ransom at the same time. The cross is what Jesus is willing to do in order to save people who deserve death. The cross in all its ugliness is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior—because the cross means the kingdom’s reign of God is coming into our ugly circumstances, even in the midst of sin and the consequences of sin; even in the face of death.
“Remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” the sinner prays. And to this sinner who deserves death, the dying the King replies, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Do you want to see God’s reign and rule come? Do you want to see God’s will be done in His kingdom?
Then, you, sinner who deserves death, look on your crucified King, and pray, “Remember me, Jesus, when You come into Your Kingdom.” And you will hear Him say, “You will be with Me in Paradise.”
Hymn: #447 (vs. 4 – 6) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The second set of candles are extinguished. The Altar Cross is removed.)
III. Living out our Lord’s Prayer
Reading: John 19: 19 – 27
P: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
C: Give us today our daily bread. Forgiven us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
It’s sometimes called The Family Prayer, the family prayer of the people of God. This Family Prayer is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father in heaven …” it begins, and by naming God our Father, it names us one family, the family of God.
Our Lord, on the cross, is living out the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus, on the cross, is hallowing God’s name. On the cross God’s kingdom is coming and God’s will is being done on earth as in heaven. And the result of Jesus living out the family prayer is a new family, a family of God, marked by daily bread (His body, broken for you) and forgiving our debtors (Father, forgive them, His blood, shed for you). The result of Jesus living out in His body the Our Father, is leading a new family not into temptation, but delivered from evil: Jesus crushes the tempter’s head even as the devil, that old evil snake, strikes His heal.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John, the disciple Jesus loved, stand together at the foot of the cross. As Jesus speaks through the pain, we hear the beginning of a new family, the family of God. This family stands under the shadow of the cross and prays in faith together for God’s Kingdom’s reign to come and God’s will to be done, on earth, among us, in our families, as it is in heaven.
Hymn: #147 (vs. 7 – 9) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The third set of candles are extinguished. The Altar Book is removed.)
- God’s will is to forsake Him:
Reading: Matthew 27: 35-36, 39-49
P: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
C: For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Jesus hangs there in weakness as they pile on insult after insult. The crown of thorns in His flesh is itself a sign of their ironic mocking, a crown for a king; a thorn for suffering. This is all-sufficient grace; this is God’s power being made perfect in weakness.
Jesus, at His lowest point, rejected by people, abandoned by God, cries out words from a psalm, a hymn all about weakness, brokenness, thorns in the flesh, insults. That ancient hymn begins with painful words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus knows that song all too well.
The hymn is Psalm 22, but does not end with abandonment. When all around is weakness and suffering and loss, a powerful theme returns to the music: All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since he delights in Him.”
Jesus sing to Himself, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. A company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations.”
It reminds me of a song Paul learned in the midst of suffering: Jesus, the same Jesus who knew what it meant to have a crown of thorns in His own flesh, that Jesus said to Paul what he says to you and me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Hymn: #447 (vs. 10 – 12) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The fourth set of candles and the Altar candles are extinguished. The Altar candles are removed.)
- God’s will this to drink this cup
Reading: John 19: 28 – 29
P: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
C: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
On the cross, Jesus is living out what it means to be thirsty for God’s righteous, for God’s Kingdom to reign. Jesus is, even now, drinking the cup of God’s righteous punishment down to the sour dregs.
The one who said He would provide living water, the one who turned water of ritual purification into the wine that was fit for a King’s banquet, the Jesus who said, “Let all who are thirsty come to me and drink,” is now drinking the bitter draft of retribution, death water, the wine of God’s wrath.
When Jesus prays in the Garden, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” THIS is the cup He wants to avoid. Yet for the sake of God’s kingdom coming, that God’s saving will might be done, in order to be the source of living water for all who believe, Jesus pours Himself out like a drink offering and drains the death cup of God’s Wrath for you and me.
Hymn: #447 (vs. 13 – 15) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The fifth set of candles are extinguished. The bells are tolled 6 times, one time for each hour Jesus was on the cross, as a reminder that God forsook Jesus there. The Altar cloth is removed)
- God’s will is accomplished
Reading: John 19: 30
P: He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53:12)
C: Christ became obedient to death – even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
The work of accomplishing the salvation of all people is finished. God’s will has restored the fortunes of His people, let us rejoice, let us be glad in all that God has done for us.
Hymn: #447 (vs. 16 – 18) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The sixth set of candles are extinguished. The Altar Paraments are removed)
VII. God’s will is Done
Reading: Luke 23: 44 – 49
P: He was pierced for our transgressions;
C: He was crushed for our iniquities;
P: Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
C: And with His wounds we are healed.
How can God’s Will be done in the death of His Only Son? We might ask ourselves that question. God’s will was to live in perfect love, peace and joy with each and every one of us, but that perfect love, peace and joy can’t happen in the midst of sin. Sin can only be conquered by the perfect Righteousness of God, lived out in this world of sin.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (Jn 3:16 – 18) God’s will is done by His love for you and me through His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hymn: #447 (vs. 19 – 21) “Jesus, In Your Dying Woes”
(The seventh set of candles are extinguished. The Christ Candle is removed and a black cloth covers the altar.)
Reading: John 19: 31 – 42
(The loud sound is the stone coming down to seal the tomb of Jesus.)
P: You have put Me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. I am like a man without strength. (Ps. 88: 4 & 6)
C: He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death. (Is. 53:9)
Hymn: #452 vs. 1, 3, 5, 7 “O Perfect Life of Love”
(The Christ candle remains lit while all the lights are turned off.)
Good Friday Closing Prayer
P: O Lamb of God and fountain of Redemption, wash us completely in the blood of Your sacrifice, mark the door post of our hearts, and deliver us from the destructive power of sin, death and the devil. When all seems dark around us, let us take comfort from the light of Your cross and know that because of it God hears our prayers and does His will in our lives. In Your name, O Lord, we pray:
(You may continue in silent prayer and be dismissed in silence when you are finished. All the lights will remain off except for the light in the entry way and the Christ Candle.)