Isaiah 52:13–53:12 | Psalm 22 | Hebrews 10:16–25 or Hebrews 4:14–16, 5:7–9 | John 18:1–19:42
Theme: Our new life in Christ is grounded in Jesus’ humility, service, and self-sacrificial love which he expressed by voluntarily laying down his life for every one of us. On this day of remembrance, Good Friday, we are reminded that we participate in Christ’s self-sacrificial laying down of his life, being broken and poured out on behalf of the Father’s beloved children. And we are reminded of how Christ’s ongoing gift being poured out in our hearts by the Spirit is meant to be shared with others by our own persons being broken and poured out for the Father’s beloved children through humble service, sharing, and giving.
Readings—Invite volunteers, youth perhaps, to read—see below for when to include the readings in the service: (R1) John 18:1-14; (R2) John 18:15-27; (R3) John 18:28-19:16; (R4) John 19:17-24; (R5) John 19:25-27; (R6) John 19:28-30; (R7) John 19:38-42. (Have all readers read from the same Bible version.)
Prayers—Invite volunteers to give short prayers as follows—see below for when to include these prayers in the service: (P1) Thanksgiving to Jesus for being present by the Spirit, for drawing everyone together, and for reminding us of all he has done; (P2) Thanksgiving to Jesus for laying down his life and pouring himself out for us; (P3) Thanksgiving to Jesus for the people he brings into our lives whom we can serve, and offering ourselves up to Christ to be broken and poured out as he was.
Closing Song—(CS) A song or hymn of sending, service, or commitment.
Good Friday Reflective Service
Welcome, followed by thanksgiving prayer (P1).
On this day of remembrance, Good Friday, we are reminded that we participate in Christ’s self-sacrificial laying down of his life, being broken and poured out on behalf of the Father’s beloved children. And we are reminded of how Christ’s ongoing gift being poured out in our hearts by the Spirit is meant to be shared with others by our own persons being broken and poured out for the Father’s beloved children through humble service, sharing, and giving.
Today we reflect on Jesus, who willingly gave his life for our own. Jesus Christ, the One who came as God in human flesh, voluntarily allowed himself to be betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, and crucified for our sakes, even though it meant he would die and be buried. Even though at any moment Jesus could have walked away from his cross, he chose not to, because his cross was the means by which everything made by him and through him was taken through death into newness of life. What hope we have because of Jesus’ self-offering!
Today is a day to declare again that we were crucified, and we died with Christ. And because we share in his death, we participate in Jesus’ broken and poured out gift on the cross. As we read today’s gospel passage, let us consider anew what it means to fully participate in what Christ has done for us in laying down his life. Let us reflect on what it means that in Christ by the Spirit, we ourselves live broken and poured out for others.
(Name of member) will read John 18:1-14 (R1).
- Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Judas Iscariot, arrested, and falsely accused.
Each of the twelve disciples was personally chosen by Jesus. He knew them down to their core and he still loved them and included them in his ministry. Jesus knew Judas would eventually betray him, but even so, he knelt and washed his feet, and included him at his table, within his circle of disciples. Jesus expressed his Father’s love by the Spirit, including each person in that love, even though he knew they could betray him to the authorities at any moment.
Our participation in Jesus’ death includes our willingness to include others, even though they may turn against us or betray us. Christ’s life and love in us by the Spirit compels us to welcome and include others despite the risks involved.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit move you to include through kindness, humble service, or compassionate care those people you have previously tended to exclude from your relationships? Pause for reflection.
(Name of member) will now read John 18:15-27 (R2).
- Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Simon Peter, who vehemently denied being associated with him.
How easy it is to say we are going to stand by Jesus until the end! This is what Peter told Jesus, but when Jesus refused to allow him to use his sword and he discovered his life was on the line, his assurance quickly oozed away! When the opinion of the people around him became more important than his loyalty to Jesus, what came out of Peter was violent denial and a refusal to be identified with his teacher and friend.
Part of our participation in the death of Christ is identifying with Jesus no matter the opinion of others. Drawing upon the Spirit of Christ living within we find the strength to stand fast, even when this means the people whose opinions we value most are turned against us. Our comfort is knowing that even when we fail to stand fast in our relationship with Christ, he holds on to us—his love for us never fails.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit change the way you respond to the opinions and preferences of the people in your life? Pause for reflection.
(Name of member) will now read John 18:18-40 (R3a), followed by (name of member), who will read John 19:1-16 (R3b).
- Jesus was interrogated and flogged by Pontius Pilate, who found him innocent, tried to free him, but ultimately sentenced him to crucifixion at the insistence of the crowd.
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, and Peter denied Jesus. Now Pontius Pilate, the one person who had the power to free Jesus and who declared three times that he was innocent, ultimately chose giving Jesus up to be crucified over doing what was just and right. Even though his life was on the line, Jesus never ceased to speak the truth about who he was and why he was here on earth. He was not ashamed to be the Son of the Father, even though he knew it was going to cost him his life.
We participate with Jesus in his death as we stand up to human institutions and refuse to be intimidated by their demands that we sacrifice righteousness and justice for the sake of power, wealth, and the opinion of the people. As those who identify with Jesus in his sacrifice and death, our supreme loyalty is not to the state, but to the Lord himself, the King of the kingdom of God.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit be moving you to stand against unrighteousness and injustice in your church, your community, or your world? Pause for reflection.
(Name of member) will now read John 19:17-24 (R4).
- Jesus carried his cross, was stripped naked and crucified with two criminals, with soldiers gambling for his clothing.
It was bad enough that Jesus was flogged, tortured to the point of death, but then he had to carry his own implement of death up a hill to where he would be crucified on it. He was stripped down and the soldiers gambled to see who would get his clothing. Mocked and abused verbally, Jesus was torn apart in every way imaginable. The humiliation and vulnerability Jesus experienced in those moments must have been intense.
Our participation with Jesus in his death includes those times when we experience abuse, suffering, ridicule, mockery and rejection from others because we choose to live according to the truth of who we are in Christ. The apostle Paul said he counted everything loss for the sake of knowing Christ. This speaks powerfully about the value we place on Jesus and what it means to be broken and poured out for his sake.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit enable you to bear up under ridicule, rejection, or abuse because of identifying with Christ and choosing to live in the truth of who you are in him? Pause for reflection.
(Name of member) will now read John 19:25-27 (R5).
- Jesus surrendered the care of his mother to his disciple, John.
With all that Jesus was experiencing, and how close he was to death in that moment, it is marvelous that he would make the effort to be sure that his mother was cared for after his death. How hard it must have been to give her up, the one who had borne disgrace for his sake, who had made the hard choice when Gabriel came telling her she would bear a Son named “Immanuel.”
Sometimes our participation with Christ requires the surrender of people or belongings we treasure. Our being broken and poured out may involve giving up relationships or life circumstances we value and do not want to give up.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit, enable you to surrender that thing you’ve been holding tight to that God has asked you to let go of? Pause for reflection.
(Name of member) will now read John 19:28-30 (R6).
- Jesus realized his work was done, drank sour wine, proclaimed “It is finished,” and gave up his spirit.
Jesus came to the end of his life, realizing that he had done everything the Father had asked him to do. Now it was time to declare that he had reached the end and to move on. In the midst of his intense human suffering, this giving up of his Spirit in union with the Father was an act of faith, of implicit trust. But he did not hesitate. He surrendered his spirit into the care of God and courageously entered death for all our sakes.
Our participation in Christ’s death includes our letting go of everything in this life that may be of importance or of value to us. There are times when we have finished what God has asked us to do, and we need to move on. Sometimes we are asked to let go of relationships, or jobs, or responsibilities, and to embrace new ones. We may not know what to expect, or how it will all work out, but we need to allow the door to close on the past, and we need to move on into the new life God has for us in Christ.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit be closing a door in your life and moving you to enter a world full of new possibilities and new relationships? Pause for reflection.
Thanksgiving prayer (P2).
(Name of member) will now read our last passage for today, John 19:38-42 (R7).
- Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus asked for and buried Jesus’s body in Joseph’s own tomb.
Joseph and Nicodemus had been secret followers of Jesus. They didn’t want to risk losing their position in the community, so they hadn’t let others know where they stood. But when Jesus died, they stood up, placing everything at risk for the sake of giving Jesus a dignified burial rather than allowing him to be thrown into a mass grave.
Sometimes our participation with Christ asks that we take a stand alongside those who are rejected or despised. We may need to step up and be known as “one of those” people who refuse to follow along with social expectations, who are willing to help the poor, the needy, and the outcasts.
Reflection: How might Christ’s love poured out in you by the Spirit be calling you to take a stand alongside those whom society rejects but Christ loves? Pause for reflection.
Thanksgiving prayer (P3) and closing song (CS).
Benediction: Now may the God who sends you, sanctify you by his Spirit, keep you from the evil one, and fill you with his inexpressible joy, in Jesus’ name. Amen. (John 17:13-19)