Lent Devotion for April 14 - Good Friday
We invite you to the “Christ in the Passover” presentation tonight in the Sanctuary beginning at 6:00PM. Steve Wertheim from Jews for Jesus will make a beautiful presentation connecting the significance of this night with Jesus’ fulfillment of the Passover. This is a very family friendly service, a little less than an hour in length.
"A Rich Man’s Grave"
Reader: "He was buried like a criminal;"
Response: "He was put in a rich man’s grave.”
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 53:8-9
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 27:57-61
57 As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, 58 went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left.61 Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “God’s word is trustworthy always.”
Countless books, articles, discussions, debates and artistic expressions in music and other forms of art have addressed the meaning, purpose, necessity, and significance of the death of Jesus Christ on this day. We have barely touched on some of these topics in past days. I’d like us to look at a more personal aspect of the events of Good Friday. There is a grace and courage in Joseph of Arimathea. Think of the hostility present in Jerusalem from the Jewish priestly leadership toward Jesus. Pilate certainly knew of it with his first-hand experience. Now Joseph, as evening was approaching, took the bold step to ask Pilate for the body. The Romans had control of those they crucified. They would leave the bodies on the cross to rot or be consumed by animals. Certainly, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders wanted nothing to do with Jesus and had no respect for any part of Him or His dead body. At the same time, Jewish law forbade leaving a body on a cross or gallows overnight. Joseph would have known that and also, as a follower of Jesus, wanted to treat Jesus’ body with honor and respectful dignity. Pilate may have accommodated his request because he knew of Jesus’ innocence. At any rate, he gave Joseph permission to take Jesus’ body. In Jewish culture, the corpse would be washed, anointed with spices (75 pounds), and wrapped in a burial cloth. It was then placed in a tomb. Note also that Joseph and Nicodemus (from John’s account), wrapped Jesus in a “clean linen cloth and placed Him in a “new tomb that had never been used” thereby observing Jewish law regarding ceremonial purity. These two Jewish leaders had been transformed by their encounters with Jesus. Nicodemus first came by night in the beginning of John’s gospel to inquire as to who Jesus was. He came again as evening approached, (he was not in the “dark” this time), to offer his final respects by caring for his Messiah. I am equally sure that both men, at this point, thought this was the end and that their hopes were dashed. Yet, out of love for Jesus, they had the courage to make this last tribute. This story simply points to the clear truth that following Jesus has a very personal impact. Walking with the Savior is not simply believing an idea, but expressing and living out a relationship, even in the toughest of circumstances. The results can be quite surprising, just ask Joseph and Nicodemus when you see them!
MUSIC: "O Sacred Head Surrounded” by J.S. Bach (text below)
O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Death’s pallid hue comes o’er thee
The glow of life decays,
yet angel hosts adore thee
and tremble as they gaze
In this thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.
Words: Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877), 1861;
after Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
Music: harmonization J.S. Bach
HYMN: (from the Good Friday liturgy, Orthodox)
Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the Cross.
He who is King of the angels is arrayed I a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon his face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails.
The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear.
We venerate thy Passion, O Christ.
Show us also thy glorious Resurrection.
Because of Good Friday, the following prayer is possible. All glory to God.
Lord Jesus Christ, Thou wast poor and in misery, a captive and forsaken as I am. Thou knowest all man’s distress; Thou abidest with me when all others have deserted me; Thou doest not forget me, but seekest me. Thou willest that I should know thee and turn to thee. Lord, I hear thy call and follow thee; do thou help me.
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945