Good Friday - Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Lent
Friday March 29th, 2013
"They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews."
It was October, and I was involved in a university mission in the UK. One morning, it was my turn to share a devotional with the team. I was without inspiration—when I suddenly thought I would read the story of the crucifixion, without comment. So that’s what I did—and (why was I surprised?) there was stunned silence in the room. For some time, nobody could speak. It was as though we had never heard the story before. We were simply in awe of the story—and of the God it told us about. When we finally prayed, the prayers were neither eloquent nor long: they were short and broken and real.
When we read this story, we are on holy ground. It seems hopelessly inadequate to offer comment of an academic or analytical kind. The important thing is to read it and enter into it—and to look and to listen.
First we are in the garden, then in the courtyard, then through the various stages of the trial, until we reach Pilate’s headquarters. Then the flogging, Pilate’s presentation of Jesus (“Behold the man!”) and the roar of the crowd; the release of Barabbas; and then that scene which is the climax of history: the crucifixion itself. Finally, the taking down from the cross—the deposition—and Jesus’ burial. And then this unbearably long day is over.
Who do you most easily identify with at each stage? Perhaps at one point you are a disciple and at another a soldier. Perhaps you are Peter or Judas, Barabbas or Pilate, John or one of the Mary’s, Nicodemus or Joseph. Maybe you are one of the crowd of onlookers. At each stage ask yourself: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel as the scene unfolds? What do you pray? Be open to whatever God may say to you.
"See from his head, his hand, his feets,
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 an offering far too small:
Love, so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all."
Thank you, Jesus.
Dr. John Bowen
John is Professor of Evangelism and Director of the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College. Before that, he worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for many years. John and his wife Deborah have two married children and 3.5 grandchildren.
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