Tag Archive for Good Friday

Who Is on Trial?

Follow Jesus through His arrest and trial.
Look around.
Who do you see?

See the religious leaders,
proud and self-righteous,
anxiously scheming to murder an innocent man.

See Judas,
grasping for silver,
even though it means betraying an innocent friend.

See the other disciples
scurrying away to protect themselves,
fearfully cowering behind locked doors.

See Pilate, the Roman governor,
knowing the truth
but too weak to act on it.

Fear, jealousy, hatred, and pride.

Now watch Jesus.
See Him calm and unresisting.
Hear His quiet authority, whether He
speaks or
remains silent.
He is never stirred to self-defense and
remains unruffled by the injustice poured down on Him.
As the blood-thirsty furor intensifies,
He allows Himself to be swept along.

The One persecuted is at peace in the Father.
The Victim is in control.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Trial
Printed Music & Lyrics

In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46

In Gethsemane, we see the full humanity of Jesus.
Any notion that the crucifixion was somehow easier for Him
is dispelled here.
As He ate His final Passover with His disciples,
we sensed His burden.
But now, the weight seems to be almost crushing Him.
He tells His disciples,
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matt. 26:38, NIV).
He reaches out for their support,
but they sleep,
leaving Him all alone.
He falls on His face before God.
His sweat becomes like drops of blood. 

Physically, He is facing extended torture and an excruciating death.
Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, and
soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added.
Spiritually, He is about to experience a sense of separation from the Father
Who has been His constant companion and strength.

Jesus is in the final hour before his horrible ordeal.
How does He spend it?
He doesn’t resort to recreation or
diversion or
bodily rest.
He prays.
The disciples are asleep, and
when the pressure comes,
they will crumble and scatter.
Jesus prays.
And when the pressure comes,
He will be at peace.
In His most vulnerable moments,
He will be strong in the strength of Almighty God.

Throughout His life, His Father has been
His companion,
His confidence,
His food,
His constant focus.
And now, as every fiber of Jesus’ being is screaming for escape,
He does what He has always done:
He trusts His Father and depends on Him alone.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: A Garden in the Night
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

Prepare for Holy Week

Father, prepare my heart and mind for Holy Week.

Help me to
rejoice, and
sing praise
as Jesus comes to us triumphantly in the face of death,
proclaiming Himself our Messiah!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Help me share His burning zeal for His Father’s house.
And may He cleanse my heart as well whenever I allow
life’s busy-ness to crowd out prayer.

Open my ears and my heart, Lord,
as Jesus urges us to
pray boldly and
patiently endure the persecution that will surely come.

Infuse my life with the fragrance of love
as a woman models how to
lavishly worship Jesus,
with no thought of self,
holding nothing back.

Humble me and
challenge my concept of ministry
as our Master takes on Himself
the lowest,
most menial,
most irksome service to His disciples.

Then, Father, help me watch with new eyes
as Your only Son
sweats blood in the garden,
silently endures brutal injustice, and
dies willingly under indescribable torture.
Impress Your love in a fresh way on
my mind and
my heart.
Make me ready once again to
receive it and to
pour it out on others.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: As You Love
Printed Music & Lyrics

Jesus’ Last Words

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 19:28-30

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NIV)

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
(John 19:26-27, NIV)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, NIV)

“I am thirsty.” (John 19:28, NIV)

“It is finished.” (John 19:30, NIV)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46, NIV)

Imagine that you are Jesus on the day of your death. Look around. Who do you see?

  • the religious leaders, proud, self-righteous, angry, blind to their own murderous jealousy
  • Judas, a close friend whose heart had wandered and who turned you in for a few pieces of silver
  • the disciples, who lived with you for three years then fearfully deserted you in your time of trouble
  • Pilate, who knew the truth but was too weak to act on it
  • Herod, who held your life in his hands but was only concerned with his own entertainment
  • sadistic soldiers, to whom you were cruel sport
  • a thief dying next to you, taunting You in an effort to save himself
  • the crowd of people looking up at you, a mixture of gloaters, mindless mob, and curiosity seekers

In short, you’re surrounded by humanity. To them, you’re a criminal, a blasphemer, a financial opportunity, a pawn, a scapegoat, a fool, a buffoon. Your pain is their afternoon’s amusement. You’ve given yourself for these people, and they’re crushing you with their indifference, injustice, torture, humiliation, and the most agonizing death they can devise.

Every fiber of your being is screaming in pain and begging for relief. You are in your final moments. What is on your mind?

Most people being crucified would have filled their last hours with angry curses and bitterness. Read Jesus’ final words. Listen as He speaks them. What is on His heart during these moments?

Forgiveness for those killing Him and for the repentant thief. Pain never overwhelmed the love in His heart.

Care for those He loved. Mary must have longed for a word from her son, and Jesus didn’t disappoint her. Even as He died, He provided for her and bestowed a great honor on John.

Abandonment. Jesus’ deepest sorrow was feeling cut off from His Father. But how did He express it? He prayed, using words from Psalm 22. Read the psalm. It’s a moving expression of desperate complaint and ultimate trust. Even when separated from His Father, Jesus turned to Him and trusted Him.

His thirst. Having cared for others, He cried out in His own need, again fulfilling Psalm 22 (v. 15). The drink apparently gave Him strength for His final words.

Triumph. To the very end, Jesus’ thoughts were of His Father and His mission. His final words were a cry of victory. “It is completed! Father, I lay My life in Your hands!”

Father, when I die, when I am losing everything I am and everything I hold, will I be looking to You, reaching for the completion of Your work, loving those around me, trusting my life into Your hands? Lord, may it be so.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Last Words
Printed Music & Lyrics


“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:42, 44, NIV)

Gethsemane removes any notion that Jesus’ suffering and death were somehow easier for Him. Falling on His face before the Father, coming to Him repeatedly with the same prayer, grasping for support from His friends, literally sweating blood – the scene reminds us that He felt all the anguish any of us would feel.

Knowing that such a horrible and fatal ordeal awaited us, we would likely be consumed with dread. Jesus was conscious of what awaited Him, and He was anxious for the day to come:

“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:49-50, NASB)

But we never sense that He was overcome by fear or distracted by dread. Facing His death, He seemed to deal with the long-term pressure the same way He dealt with it in Gethsemane: He kept Himself completely committed to the Father, completely dependent on Him, completely trusting. His daily bread was always enough.

Lord, simply give us each day our daily bread. No matter what comes, You will always provide all we need. Thank You, Lord.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: A Garden in the Night
Printed Music & Lyrics

Witnessing Even in Death

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 18 – 19

Even as the Father was allowing His Son to be cruelly tortured and murdered, even as the Son was experiencing a deep sense of abandonment by the Father, each was lifting up testimonies to the other.

The Father was testifying to Jesus as His own chosen, only-begotten, dearly-loved Son, all the while events seemed to proclaim the opposite. And the Father brought these testimonies from highly-unexpected sources.

  • When the arrest party arrived to seize Jesus, He spoke up and asked, “Whom do you seek?” When they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene,” Jesus identified Himself with the words, “I am.” This would be the usual way of saying, “I am he” or “I am the one you are seeking”. But when Jesus thus spoke the divine name, “I am,” even His enemies reacted to Him in instinctive humility, backing up and prostrating themselves before Him on the ground (John 18:4-8, NASB).
  • After a brief interview, Pilate realized that Jesus was an innocent man and looked for a way to release Him. Then when the Jews specifically accused Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God, Pilate was even more afraid (John 18:38; 19:7-8). He seemed to sense that this righteous Man was who He claimed to be.
  • The sign Pilate had hung on the cross correctly identified Jesus for who He was: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” Pilate refused to change the sign, even when pressured by the Jewish leaders (John 19:19-22, NASB).
  • One of the criminals executed with Jesus knew who He was. He defended Jesus to the other criminal, then asked, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” Jesus recognized his genuine faith and responded, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43, NASB).
  • While the Son was on the cross, the Father Creator sent darkness over the land from noon through 3:00 p.m. The veil of the temple was torn in two (Luke 23:44-45).
  • The Roman centurion, who supervised Jesus’ execution and saw everything that happened, “became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:54, NASB).

Even while engulfed by physical, mental, and spiritual agony, even as He surrendered His life to death, the Son stayed focused on His Father. He was intent on testifying to His Father’s loving control, even as events seemed to shout the triumph of evil.

Jesus’ words on the cross show that thoughts of His Father filled His heart, even as He died. Notice particularly John 19:28, 30:

Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit. (NASB) 

In death as in life, Jesus’ first concern was to fulfill His Father’s will. Specifically, He was intent on fulfilling scriptural prophecies about His death. Why? Because the fulfillment of prophecy showed that the Father was still in full control of all that was happening, even as Satan seemed to be having his way. All was happening as the Father had announced centuries before.

Scripture testifies to divine control, even in Jesus’ dying act. Throughout the gospel account of the arrest and trial of Jesus, He remained passive, allowing Himself to be “handed over” (the meaning of the Greek word) from one party to another:

  • Judas handed Jesus over to the Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:46, 48).
  • The Jews handed Him over to Pilate (Matthew 27:2).
  • Pilate handed Him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:26).

But Jesus had already told His disciples, “I lay down My life . . . No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:17-18, NASB). True to His word, Jesus’ final act on the cross was to “hand over” His Spirit to the Father (John 19:30). He died by His own decision, not as a helpless victim, but as Lord of Life, in full control.

In death as in life, the Son glorified the Father, and the Father glorified the Son.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: His Hour Has Come
Printed Music & Lyrics


Some early historians credited the Persians with the first use of crucifixion, while others said it was a cruel practice the Romans picked up from various barbarous peoples they had conquered. The Greeks had used it – Alexander the Great crucified 2,000 people after the siege of Tyre.

The Romans originally considered it a slave’s punishment. It was later extended to foreigners and robbers and those convicted of treason.

Crucifixion was designed to subject the victim to the greatest possible humiliation. For that reason corpses were sometimes crucified.

Some form of torture customarily preceded crucifixion, such as flogging, in order to start the blood flowing. The victim often had to carry his own crossbeam to the place of execution, which was intentionally very public. He was most often tied to the cross, sometimes nailed. Stretched and immobilized, the victim could find no relief from searing pain. Movement was excruciating. Not moving was torture. The suffering was intense and protracted. Death rarely came sooner than 36 hours (thus Pilate’s surprise when Jesus was dead in only a few hours – another sign that Jesus had given up His own life). The final cause of death is uncertain, but gradual suffocation resulting from fatigue is most likely.

In 1968, the first skeleton identifiable as a victim of crucifixion was unearthed in Jerusalem. The two heel bones were still fastened together by a single iron nail. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Crucifixion Hymn
Printed Music & Lyrics

Prayer in Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46, NIV) 

As Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, we sensed His burden. Now it seems to be almost crushing Him. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v.38). Physically, He is facing extended torture and an excruciating death. Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, and soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added. Spiritually, He is about to experience a sense of separation from the Father Who has been His constant companion and strength.

It is Jesus’ final hour or hours before his arrest. How does He spend them? He prays. His life has been filled with prayer. He has seemed in almost constant communication with His Father. He came to Gethsemane to pray so regularly that Judas knew where to find Him, even though he had left during the meal.

What can we learn about Jesus from His prayer in Gethsemane?

  • When burdened or pressured, pray. Jesus didn’t resort to recreation or diversion or bodily rest. He prayed.
  • He was honest with God about His feelings. “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (v.39).
  • It’s OK to struggle, IF we keep our eyes on the Father and continue to trust Him and stay committed to Him.
  • You may have heard people say that we’re supposed to give our concerns to God in prayer, then leave them there; don’t ever go back to them. But here Jesus kept coming back, repeating the same prayer. Some burdens are so heavy that we can’t just pray about them once and forget them. They keep pressing on our minds and emotions. Jesus’ example teaches us to keep bringing our concerns to God whenever they come to mind. That’s not doubt. It’s faith. Jesus didn’t have anything new to communicate, but He kept bringing His burden to His Father.
  • “Your will be done” in v.42 is the exact same Greek phrase used in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10. Jesus modeled and lived out the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer isn’t just words. It is an attitude toward God, a relationship with Him, a lifestyle. If you want to understand its meaning for life, look at the example of Jesus.
  • “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (v.41). When Jesus’ hour of great trial came, He was ready. The disciples, who had spent the time sleeping, crumbled. They scattered in fear. Watch and pray.
  • When every fiber of Jesus’ being was screaming to run the other way, He submitted because He remained focused on the Father and continued to trust Him, step by step. We can too.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: A Garden in the Night
Printed Music & Lyrics