Good Friday Readings and Meditations

Good Friday Readings and Meditations

First Reading: John 18:1-11 (Jesus is Betrayed by Judas)

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples
and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and
he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had
often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a
detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.
They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out
and asked them, "Who is it you want?"

"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was
standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back
and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And
they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered.
"If you are looking for me, then let these men go." This happened so
that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of
those you gave me."

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the
high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was

Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I
not drink the cup the Father has given me?"

First Meditation:

The first time you experienced crushed trust may have been
on the playground when you were the one that everybody was against, on the
outside looking in at the in group. Or maybe it happened when you were a little
older. Your boyfriend or girlfriend broke their promise or their word to you
when you felt the pain. Maybe it has happened since you have grown older. It’s
funny. We don’t forget pain like that, do we? In fact, there are many events in
your and my life that have caused a great amount of pain when it comes to
broken trust, that no matter how much time passes, we will not forget a father
walking out on his family, a spouse walking out on a marriage, a child, a son
or daughter walking out of the family. And willingly and obediently did your
and my Lord enter into the realm of broken trust to experience to its fullest
the full measure of all mankind since time began and long after we have been
buried in the ground, God willing, has God set forth on this road to the cross
the two responses of broken trust. The one who broke the trust feels a great
amount of guilt; the one who had the trust broken, anger, resentment because of
the pain that they are enduring. Both are feeling pain. Both can consume them.
Both were poured upon Christ. Let Him pay for it. Didn’t He pay enough for such
things as that?

Second Reading: John 18:12-27 (Jesus is Denied by Peter)

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the
Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas,
who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was
the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus.
Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the
high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other
disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on
duty there and brought Peter in.

"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the
girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, "I am not."

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a
fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his
disciples and his teaching.

"I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus
replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the
Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who
heard me. Surely they know what I said."

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him
in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he

"If I said something wrong," Jesus replied,
"testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike
me?" Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked,
"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it, saying,
"I am not."

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man
whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn’t I see you with him in
the olive grove?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster
began to crow.

Second Meditation:

We spend a great deal of our time maneuvering ourselves and
all that we have control or power over to avoid the consequences of our words
and actions, justifying them in some form or fashion so that we can speak of
ourselves as innocent victims as it were. But my! When consequences strike you
cold in the face and you cannot nor I move to the left or right and wiggle out
of it, it crushes. It completely crushes. It crushed Judas to hell, to despair
of the very thing that the One he betrayed offered him. It crushed Peter to
repentance and to turn back to the very One he had denied. God places you in
those situations every day, and some of those times we don’t think anything
about because the consequences aren’t that great. And then there is that moment
and those moments that you and I can remember and recall where the price was
exorbitant and the guilt overwhelming and the pain inconsolable. God allows
that to build your faith. God’s hands are the One who allows and maneuvers
things so that your faith is preserved and kept intact. Flee to the One whom
you have betrayed. Be claimed as His own again. He wants you, desires you, and
opens His arms to receive you. Just come back.

Third Reading: John 18:28-19:16a (Jesus before Pilate)

Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the
Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial
uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat
the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you
bringing against this man?"

"If he were not a criminal," they replied,
"we would not have handed him over to you."

Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your
own law."

"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews
objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind
of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and
asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did
others talk to you about me?"

"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your
people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it
were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my
kingdom is from another place."

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king.
In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to
testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went
out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.
But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the
Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?"

They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us
Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers
twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in
a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of
the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look,
I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge
against him." When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the
purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him,
they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"

But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As
for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."

The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to
that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."

When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went
back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but
Jesus gave him no answer. "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate
said. "Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it
were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you
is guilty of a greater sin."

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews
kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.
Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on
the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is
Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth

"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away!
Crucify him!"

"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.

"We have no king but Caesar," the chief
priests answered.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Third Meditation:

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But
lest we think that it does not apply to us because we are not in a great
position of power or authority, just consider the fact that all of us have
responsibility over or some sphere of influence over somebody. That is a form
of power. And are we wise with such influence, such responsibility for? Are we
prudent and judicious? Whenever we judge ourselves, we judge ourselves with
such an unjust standard, but whenever we judge someone else who has
responsibility or authority over us, we judge them with such a harsh standard.
Pilate’s conversation with Christ sounds just like our argumentation in this
world, one exercising authority over the other, posturing. Posturing occurs
even in the church. You shouldn’t be surprised because it occurs in your house
between parents and children, between spouses. It occurs in schools. It occurs
everywhere. And look where Christ points to. The kingdom that He is bringing is
not of this world. There is nothing in this world that He wishes to be over as
King. And then He reminds Pilate that all responsibility and all power flows
not from their ability to have earned it, attained it, but from God giving it
and allowing it, even unjust power. We judge unjust power, and yet, we don’t
judge when we’ve been unjust? When we haven’t been as wise and prudent and
judicious, when we have abused that privilege that God alone from above has
given us and instead are consumed more about the things of this world and our
standing in this world. How I have fallen on my sword over things that matter
not in the life to come. How often have you fallen on your sword? To be right
rather than reconciled, to be first rather than unified. And of what do we make
as that standard? And is it the right standard? All we can cry out is this: Be
crucified, oh Lord. Be crucified! Be crucified for me!

Fourth Reading: John 19:16b-22 (Jesus Goes to Calvary)

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own
cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called
Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side
and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It
read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign,
for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was
written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to
Pilate, "Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to
be king of the Jews."

Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have

Fourth Meditation:

What does this mean? That the very people for whom Christ
came are the very people who turned Him over and let Him die. Lest we think, Not
I, oh Lord, not I
. Just consider when we have fear and what other people
think more than we fear what God thinks. Think of those times when you feared
more for yourself than you did for the other. This especially affects everyone
in this congregation. Everyone who is here this evening one could say we are
the more active members of the church. We’re the ones who serve on boards and
committees, we’re the ones who put money in that plate are also the ones who
get our feelings hurt very easily. And we sure sometimes keep score, don’t we?
Whether we’re staff here, whether we’re volunteers and serve on board or
committees or whether we’re called here, all of us here, all of us here hurt
one another in one form or fashion. None of us here can say I have never ever.
How dare we blaspheme God’s good grace? Unless we are willing to admit that we,
too, have had a hand in anything, of what good is the King of the Jews to us?
Lord Jesus, let me hide in Your dishonor for me that I may find honor. Let me
hide and flee to Your judgment that I may be free of the judgment of my own
mind and of Satan and of Your just justice.

Fifth Reading: John 19:23-25a (Jesus is Crucified)

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes,
dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment
remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

"Let’s not tear it," they said to one another.
"Let’s decide by lot who will get it."

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled
which said,

"They divided my garments among them

and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what
the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.

Fifth Meditation:

The guards hovered around him like vultures to a corpse in
order to get something for free, because, by virtue that they were the guards
and the soldiers who were responsible at that situation. So why shouldn’t they
get their cut? They were opportunists. Now, none of us here are opportunists.
Yet, we are. In the church? Even in Christ’s church. That’s exactly where
opportunists should be. For if we have ever had an expectation of the church,
of someone in the church, of some group or organization of a part of the
church, we are opportunists because it did not fulfill what we expected. And if
we truly were Christ-like, we would bear it willingly. We would nod and move
forward, smile and be happy in what God has given. Having been baptized into
Christ, we stand to inherit a great deal as broken opportunists, and that which
we stand to inherit is that great gift of eternal life. But having been
baptized into Christ means also we have to bear a cross in this world, and it
is in bearing that cross that we come into very close contact with the stench
of our pride and sin of being opportunists. The bitterness in our mouth after
having tasted it. The stench that clings to our clothing even, because bearing
the cross is also a part of being Christ’s child, and all we can cry out is,
“Lord, let it be done unto me as You have said. I am the Lord’s servant.”

Sixth Reading: John 19:26-30 (Jesus Gives up His Spirit)

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he
loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your
son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time
on, this disciple took her into his home.

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the
Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of
wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a
stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received
the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head
and gave up his spirit.

Sixth Meditation:

It’s quite horrible, isn’t it, to watch someone die of
cancer. There are many forms of death. Some we have the opportunity to witness
with our own eyes, and others are so quick and sudden we never get that chance.
Isn’t it interesting that, when we talk about death, we talk about, “Boy, I
sure would like to go like Joe. Joe just sat down in his chair and just fell
asleep.” Yes, that would be great, but that may not be the kind of death that
we have awaiting us. But there is one death you will never ever have to face.
You will never have to die like Christ. Lest we think that the physical death
was all that difficult, it was more than a physical death. He was damned. He
was in hell. He bore the entire fruit of the tree of death, for on that tree
something that no human being ever, living in this world, has ever experienced
is God the Father turning His back on Him. You’ll never have to face that. And
you’ll never have to face Him walking away from you like He walked away, as it
were, from Christ on the tree. Just like this.

Seventh Reading: John 19:31-42 (Jesus is Placed in the

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to
be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the
crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the
bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first
man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when
they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his
legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a
sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his
testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that
you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be
fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another
scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of
Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the
Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was
accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.
Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking
Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.
This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was
crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one
had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the
tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Seventh Meditation:

Blood and water. It was blood and water that flowed from the
side of the Passover Lamb. It was blood and water that God gave to His bride,
the church, that she might be cleansed. Cleansed not on the outside, but
cleansed on the inside. Cleansed in an area that we wish at times we could
forget, but can’t. Cleansed in an area that we wish we could put out of our
mind and our memory, but can’t. God uses those two means to cleanse. Be at
peace, brothers and sisters. Your God is for you, and by blood and water, your
God is with you.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.