January 21, 2021

Good Friday 2012

The Crucifixion, Veneziano

John 19:16-30

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.’ This was to fulfil what the scripture says, ‘They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.’  And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

During Holy Week, we are running a special post each day here at Internet Monk. We glean one word or phrase for contemplation from the Gospel passage for the day, and hear a devotional thought from one of my favorite old books by Dr. John Killinger. The copy I have is called Devotional Thoughts on the Gospels but it was republished as Day by Day With Jesus.

• • •

Today’s word is FAMILY, and our focus is on verses 25-27 in the crucifixion narrative, which describes the four women who stood before the condemned Jesus and heard him speak. In the previous paragraph, four soldiers were mentioned, four executioners. Here, we see four mourners, four companions of Jesus who watch in horror and anguish as Jesus hangs on the cross. They represent members of Jesus’ kin, both biological and spiritual — his precious Mother and her sister, and two other Marys to whom Jesus had ministered and who had become his followers.

John was also standing with these women, and Jesus directed poignant words to his Mother Mary and this disciple: “Woman, here is your son…Here is your mother.” As a hospice chaplain I have observed similar scenes on many occasions. One thing people care about most at the end of life is that the ones they love will be cared for. In my experience, it is usually a parent expressing concern about his or her children, but here it is a Son providing for his Mother.

However, the fact that it is Jesus speaking these words adds another dimension, explained by John Killinger:

The Gospel of John has no birth narrative for Jesus, and so contributes nothing to the story of the holy family as found in Matthew and Luke. But it has this touching scenario in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is given into the care of the disciple John. In other words, it gives us the picture of another kind of holy family — one built on the mutual love and commitment of the members.

In this sense, the picture prefigures the nature of all Christian fellowship. Those of us who are one with Jesus and God are also one with each other. Jesus has commanded us to love one another (15:17). We are to care not only for Jesus but for all those who are of his family.

Even as we look at the Cross itself, we dare not “spiritualize” the love God has for us and which we are to share with one another and our neighbors. It involves care, provision, and respect for the real life needs of human beings, body, soul, and spirit.

Prayer for Good Friday:

Loving Father, as my generous Creator you provide me richly and daily with all I need to support this body and life. And you saved me, not because of any works of righteousness that I have done, but according to your mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit you poured out on me richly through Jesus Christ my Savior, so that, having been justified by your grace, I might become an heir according to the hope of eternal life.

When I look at Jesus on the Cross, I see love, love, only love. Oh God, fill my heart to overflowing with this love!

Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, that in this holiest of weeks I may delight in your will and walk in your ways. Amen.


  1. I don’t have an answer [as to why this is called GOOD Friday] but what comes to mind is the paradox of Jesus calling this His moment of glory. “Now is the Son of man glorified”. This day seems on the surface to be everything but good.

  2. Thanks for this. I’ve developed a sort of Good Friday “tradition” over the last few years. Having to work, I get to my office early, check out the Good Friday-themed iMonk post, and listen to Phil Keaggy’s “The Maker of the Universe.”

  3. I believe it is Good (Friday), because the Living God has declared the war to be over. We can be at peace with God and fully reconcilled to Him because of the cross of Christ. All the punishment that we deserve, He took upon Himself. He became nothing. Nothing…so that we could become something,,,children of God.

    It is very, very good.

  4. In other words, it gives us the picture of another kind of holy family — one built on the mutual love and commitment of the members.

    This is what Stanley Hauerwas refers to as “fictive family”. Quoting SH;

    The assumption here is that the first enemy of the family is the church. When I taught a marriage course at Notre Dame, I used to read to my students a letter. It went something like this, “Our son had done well. He had gone to good schools, had gone through the military, had gotten out, had looked like he had a very promising career ahead. Unfortunately, he has joined some eastern religious sect. Now he does not want to have anything to do with us because we are people of ‘the world.’ He is never going to marry because now his true family is this funny group of people he associates with. We are heartsick. We don’t know what to do about this.” Then I would ask the class, “Who wrote this letter?” And the students would say, improbably some family whose kid became a Moonie or a Hare Krishna.” In fact, this is the letter of a fourth century Roman senatorial family about their son’s conversion to Christianity.

    From the beginning we Christians have made singleness as valid a way of life as marriage. This is how. What it means to be the church is to be a group of people called out of the world, and back into the world, to embody the hope of the Kingdom of God. Children are not necessary for the growth of the Kingdom, because the church can call the stranger into her midst. That makes both singleness and marriage possible vocations. If everybody has to marry, then marriage is a terrible burden. But the church does not believe that everybody has to marry. Even so, those who do not marry are also parents within the church, because the church is now the true family. The church is a family into which children are brought and received. It is only within that context that it makes sense for the church to say, “We are always ready to receive children. We are always ready to receive children.” The people of God know no enemy when it comes to children.



  5. It’s Good to me because by His stripes we are healed. “Sozo” is such mystery.


  6. Tokah Fang says

    It is good because Christ is in his death DESTROYING it, or “trampling down death by death” as we say in the east.

  7. Good Friday (from the senses pious, holy of the word “good”), is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday,or Easter Friday,though the latter properly refers to the Friday in Easter week.

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