A Service for Good Friday

This sheet will give you readings, ideas, thoughts, and prayers to lead you through the hour from 2:00 until 3:00, for 3:00 pm is the hour of Jesus’ death. You need to do some preparation before you start, but …

DO NOT LOOK AT THE LOWER PART OF THIS SERVICE SHEET UNTIL 2pm ON GOOD FRIDAY

Preparation before you start: Find three pieces of music that will help you to think about Jesus and his love. The St. John’s organist Ray Willis has made a recording specially for us, which you can find in the audio player below. Or you may have a CD of hymns, or a recording of Songs of Praise, or you may search on Spotify or YouTube. Or maybe you have a hymn book – or a good memory – and can sing (or say) hymns to yourself.

Play

Find the right place, somewhere quiet where you can sit and think and pray, and listen to your pieces of music. Make sure you have your Bible with you, and this order of service, and a clock or watch. That is all you need. Then wait for 2:00 pm before you start this sheet and, without hurrying, begin …

‘The route to salvation.’

It is 2pm. Welcome to our Good Friday meditation service for 2020. Think of the many church friends who will be doing the same things, and thinking the same thoughts and praying the same prayers, all at the same time. ‘Thank you, Lord, for our church families; help us all to know your love more fully, through the cross of Jesus. Amen.’

Now think about Jesus. What do you know about him? Think of some gospel stories that you know and love. He said, ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’ (John 14:18). He comes to you now; thank him for being there, with you and with us all.

Pick up your Bible, and find Matthew’s gospel.

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of ever-lasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

2:05pm SECTION ONE – the evil route

Slowly read Matthew 4:1-11 now.

Before Jesus has even begun his public ministry, he is tempted to take a route that will avoid the cross. 40 days of fasting is a cross in itself, and the devil, the tempter, is eager to see him fail: to feed his own needs rather than fulfil God’s word, to test God’s goodness rather than to trust it, and to gain the kingdoms of the world by worshipping the devil and not the Lord.

Jesus has come for the kingdoms of the world – but God’s route to save them will take him to the cross. Satan’s route would gain them straight away without the cross. Jesus resists the evil route.

Ponder that, as you listen to your first piece of music now.

Lord Jesus, we know what evil is like. Thank you for your goodness. You show us what purity and love and holiness really are; help us in our times of weakness, guard us in our times of testing, forgive us in our times of failure. We needed you to resist the enemy; and we need you to help us to do so. Be our strength for this day, for these coming weeks, and always. Amen. Now pause and pray until it is time for ….

2:20 pm SECTION TWO – the easy route

Slowly read Matthew 16:13-28 now.

God has enabled Peter to realize who Jesus truly is, verses 16-17. But Peter still cannot grasp the route that Jesus’ mission will take; surely not to suffering and death! ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus says it is again Satan seeking to draw him away from the cross, but in Peter he sees ‘merely human concerns’ (verse 23). A merely human plan would map an easy route, one that tries to avoid the cross by worldly wisdom, cleverness, and the wielding of power. His route is not easy but hard. It will be hardest for him, but it will be hard for all his followers too, verses 24-27. The way of Jesus is not the easy way.

Time for intercession now. Here are some things to pray for:

  • A new love for Jesus, as you take up your cross
  • Others for whom life is specially hard right now
  • All involved in political or Health Service leadership
  • Doctors, nurses, support staff, health care workers and all involved in combating the present virus
  • Those who are sick, grieving, lonely, stressed, anxious.
  • Yourself and your own family, and your church family
  • Thank God for the privilege of prayer.

2:30 pm SECTION THREE – the impossible route

Slowly read Matthew 26:36-46 now.

It’s the night before the crucifixion, and Jesus is in the heat of the battle. Sorrowful, troubled, overwhelmed. This battle can only be won by prayer, and yet the disciples sleep. His prayer is like a question to his heavenly Father: is it possible to obey you, and accomplish your will, without going to the cross? And the Father’s answer is no; that route is impossible. And so Jesus prays, as he has taught us to pray: Your will be done. Reflect on what that meant for Jesus. What does it mean for you also, to bow to the will of God, in your circumstances?

Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Then listen to your second piece of music.

2:40 pm SECTION FOUR – the hardest, but victorious route

Slowly read Matthew 27:32-61 now.

Jesus is the Son of God (4:3, 16:16, 26:39, 27:54). And yet the only route to his victory and your salvation was through this horror. The Son of God is forsaken by God, verse 46, so that you and I might become sons and daughters of God. He died in our place, bearing the worst of our wickedness, that we may receive the best of his blessings.

Stop and pause and give thanks and pray your own prayers.

My Father, enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips, supply words that proclaim, ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’ Christ was all anguish, that I might be all joy, trodden down as an enemy, that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness, that I might have eternal light. My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, expired that I might for ever live. Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save. Amen. (edited from ‘A Valley of Vision’)

Now listen to your third piece of music.

Read Revelation chapter 5, and see what is accomplished by the victory of the cross of Jesus. And join in the worship of heaven.

So may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us all now and always. Amen. It is 3:00 p.m.