Good Friday: Meditating on the Death that Brought Life

This Good Friday, open up the Bible and reflect on the final hours of Jesus.

As Christians in the Western Church set aside time to reflect on the life of Christ this weekend, our hearts can be tempted to rush straight to the empty tomb on Easter morning—the happy ending of Holy Week.

But Christ had to endure the suffering of the cross before rising victoriously from the dead, and his followers will benefit from slowing down to remember the bitterness of his death before we celebrate the sweetness of his resurrection.

Whether you will attend a special Good Friday service at your church or whether you will reflect on the death of Jesus in quiet moments throughout your day, spend some time today in God’s Word reading about Jesus’ final hours. Here are the chapters in the Gospel narratives that contain accounts of his arrest, trial and crucifixion:

  • Matthew 26-27
  • Mark 14-15
  • Luke 22-23
  • John 18-19

Here is how the Gospel of Luke depicts the death of Jesus (Luke 23:26-49 GNT). As you read through the passage, consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins and fellowship with the Father made possible through Christ’s sacrificial death.

Jesus Is Crucified

The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed him; among them were some women who were weeping and wailing for him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem! Don't cry for me, but for yourselves and your children. For the days are coming when people will say, ‘How lucky are the women who never had children, who never bore babies, who never nursed them!’ That will be the time when people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Hide us!’ For if such things as these are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both of them criminals, were also led out to be put to death with Jesus. When they came to the place called “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, and the two criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father! They don't know what they are doing.”

They divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice. The people stood there watching while the Jewish leaders made fun of him: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah whom God has chosen!”

The soldiers also made fun of him: they came up to him and offered him cheap wine, and said, “Save yourself if you are the king of the Jews!”

Above him were written these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at him: “Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don't you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!”

Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.”
The Death of Jesus

It was about twelve o’clock when the sun stopped shining and darkness covered the whole country until three o'clock; and the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father! In your hands I place my spirit!” He said this and died.

The army officer saw what had happened, and he praised God, saying, “Certainly he was a good man!”

When the people who had gathered there to watch the spectacle saw what happened, they all went back home, beating their breasts in sorrow. All those who knew Jesus personally, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance to watch.

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