Good Friday: Past & Present

As long as I can remember, Good Friday has always been a day of remembrance for me of what happened on the Cross 2000 years ago. Even when I didn’t know the Lord as my Savior, but knew of Him, I was aware that this day was something special—there was something holy and sacred about it.

My first memory of Good Friday was as a young child. My mother would walk hand in hand with my siblings and I about one mile to our church service; the Stations of the Cross were always between the hours of 12:00pm and 3:00pm in the church I was brought up.  As a child, we had to walk just about everywhere we went as we only had one car.  My dad worked at Gimbel’s Department Store selling shoes so he had taken the family car to work.

As I walked looking up at the sky, I remember what I was taught in my catechism class:

”Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:45-46, 50-54

I found those three hours to be mysterious as I would look to the skies waiting for them to darken as the sun magically disappeared.  Maybe it would even start thundering or lightening. As a child, I realized that God had the power to do this but it could have also been my imagination running wild.

Now some 50 years later, I still find that on Good Friday between the hours of 12:00pm and 3:00pm I’m meditating and remembering what took place on the Cross. But now it is oh so personal to me as I understand the significance of Christ’s death.

A few years ago, I attended a Good Friday service at our previous church which portrayed Christ’s crucifixion. As I watched the actor who portrayed Christ struggle to carry his heavy cross down the aisle, scream in pain as the nails were driven into his hands and feet, and then cry out to His Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, I found tears of grief rolling down my cheeks as I realized that I should have been the one on that cross, not Jesus.

As I watched Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, suffering and dying for my sins, I realized I was bought with a price.  The ultimate sacrifice was made; He bore my sins on that cross so I could be pure and blameless in His sight. He forgave my sins so I no longer have to hold onto my guilt; I can put it at the foot of the cross. I now have the power to forgive others as He has forgiven me.  He conquered death so I could live in eternity with Him and the Father.

The Father’s love was so great that He crucified His only Son. God’s love was poured out on me as His Son’s blood was poured out onto the ground. I have been cleansed of my sin by His blood.

Again, I shed tears, but ones of joy and gratitude as I try to comprehend His amazing love for me.

Comments

  1. This post really resonated with me, Liz. I can relate to the sense of awe and mystery and even fear in attending the Good Friday service as a little girl. The church I grew up in had a service in the afternoon hours, as well – and the service was held in darkness, only illuminated by the light that came in the windows. What I remember most, though, was that the large cross that hung over the altar, on Good Friday was brought down and laid in front of the altar and draped in black. There was a sense of darkness, and loss, and the reality of death…we usually left that service in silence.
    But then, Easter morning!!! The entire front of the church was filled with Easter lilies and their scent filled the air. The mood was joyous, like a celebration (which indeed it was). I remember, as a thoughtful little girl, being immensely relieved!
    All this made a huge impact on me as a child, but of course the reality of what happened on that cross was not fully understood by me at the time. And now that I know that what happened on that day long ago was done not only for the “sins of the world”, but for me, for my sins…the reality of that takes my breath away. Not only was it the turning point of the history of the world, but what was done that day would turn my life from sin to salvation. To think that it was completed on the cross, 2000 years ago – I can scarcely understand. To know that His righteousness is mine…humbles me beyond words. Praise God!

  2. Liz Roeder says:

    Jill, thank you for sharing your Good Friday memories. I too find it so amazing what He did for me on the Cross that it’s hard to comprehend at times. What
    amazing love!

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