It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
A common African American spiritual sung on Good Friday goes, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Of course, none of us were there, yet we remember this event, today. Some of us will hear readings of Jesus’ seven last words found in the Gospels. Others will sit in candlelit churches and feel the darkness creep in as each candle is extinguished. Many will sing hymns, as music has a way of capturing the deep emotions we often struggle to articulate.
In Jerusalem, Good Friday is commemorated by walking the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “Way of Suffering,” while carrying crosses, stopping at the 14 stations of the cross, singing hymns and praying along the way. The final five stations are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the church lies the stone called Golgotha, believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Also inside is the tomb where it is believed he was buried.
While we were not there to physically witness Jesus’ crucifixion, many of us find people to identify with in the narrative. Some of us may identify with the disciples, who are deeply grieved, and confused at the death of their teacher and friend. Others may see themselves as one of the mob who shouted, “Crucify him!” identifying with a line from another hymn, “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.” And, some of you may identify with Jesus in his suffering. Wherever you find yourself in the story, take time today to reflect on this event of Jesus’ crucifixion.
For our prayer, we offer a final hymn. We invite you to pray the words out loud, in your heart and mind, or to sing along.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
This devotion was written by Molly Lorden, the CMEP1835 Coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). She is also currently studying toward a Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
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