Friday before Easter, commemorating the Crucifixion of Jesus is known as Good Friday. As early as the second century it was kept by Christians as a day of penance and fasting. The eastern orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have special liturgies for the day, which include readings and prayers commemorating Christ’s suffering on the Cross. Protestant churches also hold special services on Good Friday. The name most probably comes from “God’s Friday”.
The place assigned for the crucifixion was Golgotha or the place of the skull. Legend has it that it was the burial place of Adam. Representations of the Crucifixion often show a skull at the foot of the Cross to indicate that the new Adam was dying for the old Adam. Once on the hill, the executioners stripped Him of His garments, opening new wounds in His Sacred Body. In all, there were seven distinct bloodsheddings; the Circumcision, the Agony in the garden, the Scourging, the Crowning with thorns, the Way of the Cross, and now the two that are to follow: the Crucifixion and piercing of the Sacred Heart.
The Cross was prepared and over it was placed an inscription written by Pilate in Hebrew, Latin and Greek reading:
“Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”
His death and also His Kingship were proclaimed in the name of three cities of the world: Jerusalem, Rome and Athens; in the language ‘of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Pilate would be asked to change what he had written, but he would refuse:
‘What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:22)
His kingship remained proclaimed, though, for the moment, a Cross would be His throne, the royal purple; the nails, His sceptre; the Crown of thorns, His diadem. Truth was made to speak when men ridiculed.
Our Lord spoke seven times from the cross; these are called His Seven Last Words. The first word was: Like some fragrant trees which bathe in perfume the very axe which gashes then, the great Heart on the Tree of Love poured out from its depths something less a cry than a prayer-the soft, sweet, low prayer of pardon and forgiveness:
“Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34.
The second word:
The next words were addressed to one of the criminals being executed with Him, the one who had asked of Him.
‘Lord remember me when thou comest into Thy Kingdom’
Jesus replied, “verily I say unto thee,
Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. -Luke 23 :42-43
Thus the first beneficiary of the death of Christ was one whom his contemporaries would not have admitted into their religious community.
The third word:
The third message of our Lord from the Cross contained exactly the same word that was used in addressing His mother at the marriage of Cana. When she made the simple prayer that the guests had no wine, Jesus answered: “Woman, what is that to me when my Hour is not yet come? Our Lord always used the word ‘Hour’ in relation to His passion and His death. Jesus turned to His mother, Mary, and to John, the disciple whom He loved,’ and entrusted His mother to John with words, “Woman, behold thy Son.” and behold “Behold thy mother” – (John 19:26-27)
The fourth word:
The fourth words from the Cross has always been seen as the most mysterious and profound. In His final agony Jesus cried out, in the words of Psalm 22: “Eli, Eli lama Sabachthani?” Suffering now passed from the body into the mind and soul, as He spoke with loud voice:
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mathew 27:46. During this part of the Crucifixion, our Blessed Lord was repeating the Psalm of David which prophetically referred to Him, though written thousand years before.
The fifth word:
The shortest of the seven cries from the Cross is: “I thirst. (John 19:28)” All that the old testament had foretold of Him had to be fulfilled to the smallest iota. David in the Scriptures had foretold His thirst during His Passion:
“My mouth is dry as a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaw. They put poison in my food and gave me vinegar when I was thirsty.” Psalm 21: 16; Psalm 68:21-22.
The sixth word:
“It is accomplished.” John 19:30
It was not an utterance of thanks-giving that His suffering was over and finished, though the humiliation of the Son of man was now at the end. It was rather that His life from the time of His birth to the time of His death had faithfully achieved what the heavenly father sent Him to do.
The seventh word:
“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23;46. These words were not spoken in an exhausted whisper, as men do as they breathe their last. He had already said that no one would take away His life from Him, but that He would lay it down of Himself. Death did not lay its hand on His shoulder and gave Him a summons to depart. He went out to meet death. In order to show that he would not die from exhaustion, but by an act of will. His last words were spoken:
“Gave a loud cry “. Mathew 27:50
The work of a redemption was finished there was a rupture of heart in a rupture of love; the son of man bowed His head and willed to die.
Thus Jesus life ended; both His enemies and His friends were sure that this was all. Yet it was not all. The rest of the story of Jesus Christ pertains as much to history of the Christian church as it does to the history of Christ Himself. Precisely what happened is beyond the ken of the historians, and ultimately it belongs to the realm of faith.
The Christ who died on the Cross and who was buried in accordance with the Jewish law did not remain dead, He was raised from the dead by the power of God.
The Sangai Express