Friday of Holy Week starts on Thursday evening as Jesus and the disciples leave the Upper Room and walk to the Garden of Gethsemane. John does not record Jesus praying in the Garden probably in the wee hours of Friday morning. In John 14 – 18, John records all the comforting Jesus gives to his followers on the way to Gethsemane. Jesus is going to prepare a place for us. He is the vine giving us life. The world does not understand Jesus and will not understand us. Jesus’ prays for his followers, even us.
Our readings this evening pick up at John 18 with Jesus’ arrest in the Garden, trial, and crucifixion. Interwoven in the narrative is the honest account of Peter’s denials, political posturing, popularity reversals, and horrific suffering. The journey this evening reflects the reality of life in the earthly kingdom that is being redeemed by our Savior. Peter is forgiven, God is a just judge, family is bigger than biological with deep connecting bonds, and someday pain and suffering will end. Covid-19 will not win, corrupt politicians will not rule forever, hatred, prejudice, and racism will be defeated by faith, hope, grace and love. The Holy Spirit will guide, counsel and intercede for us. We depart silently, this evening, grieving the suffering we are walking through.
Biblical text will be followed by a hymn. I will share a link to YouTube but I realize you must click on the link or copy it into your address bar on your devise. Ads may come up but be patient, click the “skip ads” arrow when it shows. Enjoy the music and then click the red circle in the left top corner to end YouTube and return to your script. I hope that works. Welcome to a virtual Good Friday service, walking with Jesus to and through the cross experience.
Let us begin in the Name of the Father, +the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen. I invite you to light a candle that we will blow out at the end of the service as we are not at the altar to strip it.
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
13See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
14Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
15so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
53:1Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
4Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
9They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Psalm: Psalm 22
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I find no rest.
3Yet you are the Holy One,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4Our ancestors put their trust in you,
they trusted, and you rescued them.
5They cried out to you and were delivered;
they trusted in you and were not put to shame.
6But as for me, I am a worm and not human,
scorned by all and despised by the people.
7All who see me laugh me to scorn;
they curl their lips; they shake their heads.
8“Trust in the Lord; let the Lord deliver;
let God rescue him if God so delights in him.”
9Yet you are the one who drew me forth from the womb,
and kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born;
you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.
11Be not far from me, for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
12Many young bulls encircle me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me.
13They open wide their jaws at me,
like a slashing and roaring lion.
14I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint;
my heart within my breast is melting wax.
15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
and you have laid me in the dust of death.
16Packs of dogs close me in, a band of evildoers circles round me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17I can count all my bones
while they stare at me and gloat.
18They divide my garments among them;
for my clothing, they cast lots.
19But you, O Lord, be not far away;
O my help, hasten to my aid.
20Deliver me from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog.
21Save me from the | lion’s mouth!
From the horns of wild bulls you have rescued me.
22I will declare your name to my people;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
Stand in awe of the Lord, all you off-spring of Israel.
24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord‘s face hidden from them;
but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.
25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of nations shall bow before God.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
who rules over the nations.
29Indeed, all who sleep in the earth shall bow down in worship;
all who go down to the dust, though they be dead, shall kneel before the Lord.
30Their descendants shall serve the Lord,
whom they shall proclaim to generations to come.
31They shall proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying to them, “The Lord has acted!”
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
5:7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Gospel: John 18:1–19:42
1[Jesus] went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” 5They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”
Hymn: Jesus, Name Above All Names
(Naida Hearn from Palmerston North, New Zealand went to her “wash house” to do the laundry one day in 1970. She carried a list of names for Jesus she had written down for years. She put the list on the window sill and opened her mouth and started singing, inspired by the Holy Spirit. She left the laundry and went to the house and wrote down the song and returned to do her laundry. The song spread in New Zealand and came to the USA to bless many.)
John 18: 10-14
10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
12So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Spoken Hymn: “May the Mind of Christ, my Savior”
May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May I run the race before me
Strong and brave to face the foe
Looking only onto Jesus
As I onward go.
(We know little about Kate Wilkinson, author of this hymn who was a member of the Church of England and involved in the Keswick Deeper Life Movement. The song has inspired people facing difficult times like Covid-19. The song was published in 1925 when she was 66 years old. Christ said, “Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me.”)
15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
19Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
28Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
Hymn: Just As I Am: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucUa13ciOM
(This hymn by Charlotte Elliot, 1789-1871, is said to have influenced more people than any sermon ever preached. At age 30 she became an invalid for the rest of her 82 years. An Swiss evangelist, visiting her challenged her that she could come to Jesus just as she was, distressed, an invalid. Peter denied Christ. Witnesses lied. Politics. We are all guilty of falling short and come to this story, just as we are. These words inspired this famous hymn and she was later considered one of the finest English hymn writers.)
33Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
After he (Pilate) had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 40They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.
19:1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” 7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”
8Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” 11Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”
Spoken Hymn: This is My Father’s World
This is my father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This is my father’s world
Oh, let me never forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.
This is my father’s world
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is king, let the heavens sing
God is the ruler yet.
(Maltbie Davenoirt Babcock, a minister in Lockport, New York, at the turn of the Twentieth Century and author of these words, would walk beside Lake Ontario. He always left home telling his wife, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world. What is truth and where to find it? God is ultimately kings in all circumstances.)
13When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
25And that is what the soldiers did.
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
28After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Hymn: Were You There When They Crucified My Lord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhGYD1svTM4
(This is one of the most famous African American songs that arose from their communal experience of slavery and was first published in 1899 in William E. Barton’s Old Plantation Songs in the section “Recent Negro Melodies.” Originally it had four stanzas: 1) Were you there when they crucified my Lord?; 2) …when they nailed him to the cross?; 3) …when they pierced him in the side?; 4) …when the sun refused to shine. The United Methodist Hymnal, along with many other songbooks, includes a fifth: “…when they laid him in the tomb.” The series of questions are meant to function as a prompt to memories that go beyond recall to bring incorporation into our present lives and to that become part of our story.)
31Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
38After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsBiaBTFADI