Good Friday

Good Friday Devotional Service

Friday 2 April 2021

2pm, in church and on Zoom

At the Foot of the Cross


Welcome to this service at St Andrew’s Eaton


On this holy day, we gather to sit at the foot of the Cross, and to meditate on a love so amazing, so divine.

We will follow the Passion narrative through the different Gospel accounts, pausing along the way to reflect on all that the Cross means for us.


As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds and speak to us in this time today.




THE COLLECT                  


Leader: Almighty Father,

             look with mercy on this your family

             for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content

                  to be betrayed

             and given up into the hands of sinners

             and to suffer death upon the cross;

             who is alive and glorified with you

                  and the Holy Spirit,

             one God, now and for ever.

All:        Amen.


HYMN: When I survey the wondrous cross 



Matthew chapter 26 verses 47-68

The Arrest of Jesus



‘Comforted: A fellow sufferer’


Turned on and betrayed by one of his closest, dearest friends. Brutally arrested and treated without dignity or respect. Abandoned in his time of trial and left isolated and alone by those he held most dear. Falsely accused of things he’d never done. Subject to a miscarriage of justice. Spat at, beaten, mocked. The suffering Jesus experienced in those few hours was intense and manifold. Few will have had to go through anything so extreme; but many will be able to identify in some way with something of what Jesus had to endure. We’ve had friends who’ve turned against us. We’ve experienced feelings of isolation at our hour of need. We’ve suffered false accusation in the workplace. Perhaps we’ve experienced rough treatment by the police or been on the receiving end of injustice. Perhaps we’ve been spat at and mocked in the street.


The most astonishing truth of the Christian faith is that when we see Jesus enduring all that he endured, we are not simply seeing yet another example of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, but rather God himself experiencing the full weight of humanity’s cruelty and brutality. We see a God not remaining far off and aloof from all the pain and suffering of this world, but rather a God who enters into the thick of it. We are not alone in the darkness, but he is right there with us. He is our fellow sufferer: what blessed comfort that truth is!



‘Were you there’ Spiritual



John chapter 18 verses 38 to chapter 19 verse 16

The Trial of Jesus 



‘Repentant: A rejected king’               


This God who enters our suffering is, however, a God who is rejected by us. Jesus lived a perfect life, a life of love, of kindness, of service. As we hear this account of his trial, it’s shocking to hear three times the crowds turn on him. ‘Do you want me to release him?’ Pilate asks. ‘Not this man’ comes the reply. ‘Here is the man,’ Pilate proclaims, the man, the perfect, truest human ever to have lived. ‘Crucify him’, comes the reply. ‘Here is your King’, Pilate declares a third time, not realising the full import of what he’s saying. Here is God’s promised King, the one come to guide and shepherd his people, the one who entered Jerusalem just a few days before on a donkey’s colt in all gentleness and humility. ‘Away with him’, comes the reply.


Those crowds represent all of humanity. This is how we treat our God. The shocking reality is that when humanity is presented with perfect goodness, when humanity is presented with its true and faithful king, humanity chooses to reject him. The same pride that drove those crowds to demand Jesus’ crucifixion lives in each one of us, and we can but grieve to see how we have treated our God. As we sang on Palm Sunday, ‘Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders; ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.’ 



J.S. Bach – Choral Prelude on ‘Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott’



Luke chapter 23 verses 26 to 43

The Crucifixion of Jesus



‘Humbled: A spurned love’         


He’s been betrayed, subjected to an unjust trial, mocked, spat at, brutally treated, and now nailed to a wooden cross to die. And yet there is no bitterness, no hatred for those who have so abused him, but only love. It is no human love that when so beaten and abused cries out ‘Father, forgive them.’ Even up on the cross, the mockery and ridicule continues. And yet even up on the cross, his love also continues. His love for the very ones hurling the abuse and hammering in the nails. His love too for the one crucified next to him who turned to him in faith. The pain Jesus must have been experiencing at that moment is unimaginable; but still, he turned to the one crucified with him to offer words of comfort and hope. What love is this!


He was the Son of God. How easily he could have chosen to leave if he wished. There is a bitter irony when the religious leaders scoff and say he could save himself if he really was the Messiah. But that’s precisely the point. It was not the nails that held him to the cross, but the depth of his love, his love for you and me. What can we do but sit in awe of such love, humbled and amazed!



‘O Sacred Head’ Passion Chorale



Matthew chapter 27 verses 45 to 54

The Death of Jesus



‘Set free: A liberating Saviour’             


The Roman centurion would have not been unfamiliar with death. He would have seen many a man and woman die. And yet this death, he knew, was different. This was not the death of an ordinary person. This was the death of the Son of God, the Prince of Life. It was a death that quite literally shook the world. It was a death the sun could not bear to look upon.


But nor was it a death that was simply a tragic mistake, another horrific example of the litany of injustices that people commit against each other. It was a death with a purpose. For it was a death that set us free. It set us free from sin: the centurion wouldn’t have seen this, but it was later discovered that the vast curtain in the Temple, the curtain that shielded the Holiest of Holies, was mysteriously torn in two from top to bottom. This curtain was a barrier between us in our sinfulness and God in his holiness and purity. A barrier that reminded us of our guilt and shame. But now this barrier is torn apart, torn from the top, that is, torn by God himself. God himself saying that the way is now open, for the price of sin has been paid. We are set free from all our guilt and shame, bearing those heavy burdens no more.


And because this death set us free from our sins, it sets us free from death, the wages of sin. Jesus died our death that we might live his life. Matthew depicts this dramatically in the tombs breaking open and dead saints returning to life. Not only are we set free from all the sin that weighs us down, we’re set free from death, the curse of sin, free to enjoy the life that Jesus has to offer.



G.B. Pergolesi – Stabat Mater dolorosa from Stabat Mater



Romans chapter 5 verses 1 to 11

The Love of Jesus



‘Assured: A faithful friend’                  


Do you ever doubt God’s love for you? Do you ever think that you have just done too much that is wrong for God to love you? Does he ever feel so absent in the depths of our pain that we wonder whether he could really love us? Or do we ever feel that the God of the universe could not really be interested in, let alone love, an ordinary person like me? And do we ever feel, deep down, that even if he were interested in me, surely his interest would be primarily that of a law-enforcer, watching over my every move to make sure I did this and didn’t do that? Do we ever doubt that God loves us, truly loves us with a tender heart, a heart that beats for us?


If we ever do doubt, the apostle Paul tells us to look no further than the cross. ‘God proves his love for us,’ he says, in that while we were still sinners’ – while we were people who were not especially loveable, people who had spurned and rejected him – ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ God saw the very worst in us, and far from turning away, he gave up his very life for us. God saw the very worst in us, and loved us still. If Jesus went through all this for us, what will he not do for us? When we look to the cross we can have the assurance, the hope, the peace that he is our ever faithful friend.


Our next piece of music has a recurring refrain as we move through the Passion story: ‘it was for me, O Lord’. And when we see just what Jesus did for me, we can know with confidence the final words of the hymn, ‘you are for me, O Lord.’



When you prayed beneath the trees 




Let us come to him who died that we might live and who intercedes for ever before the Father, saying: 

we praise you, Lamb of God.


Leader: Lord Jesus, you do not remain far off from our pain, 

but have entered into it with us:

All:     we praise you, Lamb of God.


Leader: Though the king of all,

you submitted to the judgement of sinners:

All:     we praise you, Lamb of God.


Leader: In the hour of death, you forgave your enemies

and humble us with the extent of your love:

All:     we praise you, Lamb of God.


Leader: Through your blood

you have set us free from sin and death:

All:     we praise you, Lamb of God.


Leader: Faithful friend,

on the cross you prove to us that you are for us:

All:     we praise you, Lamb of God.

Silence is kept.


Standing at the foot of the Cross, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray:


All:        Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, 

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours

now and for ever. 



HYMN: Oh to see the dawn 




Leader:   Most merciful God,

             who by the death and resurrection of your Son 

                  Jesus Christ

             delivered and saved the world:

             grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross

             we may triumph in the power of his victory;

             through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

             who is alive and reigns with you,

             in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

             one God, now and for ever.

All:        Amen.



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