A Service for Good Friday – Geoffrey Webber

Servicing the Bald Hills and nearby Communities

A Service for Good Friday – Geoffrey Webber


Explaining the Service Pattern:

 In the church there will be 11 lit candles.  We have 11 scenes being presented that detail the events that led up to and which took place on that first Good Friday.  Each of these will be illustrated by an image on the screen.  As the image is being shown, a Gospel passage will be read accompanied by a short message.  We will then sing several verses of a hymn relevant to the passage.  At the conclusion of the singing of each of the hymns, one of the candles will be extinguished.  This worship service concludes when the last candle is extinguished.  At that time, and in consideration of the solemnity of the occasion, we will slowly and silently file out of the Church.

Call to Worship  (from Hebrews 10: 15 to 23) 

And the Holy Spirit also gives us His witness.  First He says,

“This is the Covenant that I will make with them in the days to come,” says the Lord, “I will put my Laws in their hearts and write them on their minds.”

And then He says, “I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer.” 

We have freedom to go into the very presence of God by means of the death of Jesus.

He has opened for us a new way, a living way, through his own body.

So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and sure faith,

With hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water.

Let us hold firmly to the hope that we profess, because we can trust God to keep His promise.

Opening Prayer

  May our spirits be quiet, O God, so that we might feel your presence.  May our minds be quiet, O God, so that we might hear your words.  Shine your light into our hearts, O God, so that the darkness of our ignorance and unbelief may be scattered.

Eleven Steps to the Tomb

Screen 1

She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head.

Mark 14: 1 to 11

1  It was now two days before the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.  The Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus secretly and put him to death.  2  “We must not do it during the festival,” they said, “or the people might riot.”

3  Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease.  While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard.  She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head.  4  some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume?  5  It could have been sold for more than three  hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!”  And they criticised her harshly.

6  But Jesus said, “Leave her alone!  Why are you bothering her?  She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me.  7  You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them  (Deuteronomy 15: 11)  But you will not always have me.  8  She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial.  9  Now, I assure you that wherever the Gospel is preached all over the World, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”  10  The Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve Disciples, went off to the Chief Priests in order to betray Jesus to them.  11  They were pleased to hear what he had to say, and promised to give him money.  So Judas started looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.


  Here we have three different approaches to the person and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

  The Priests, the Pharisees and the religious leaders felt threatened by Jesus; how His teachings and miracles proved that He was the Son of God, and that God was planning great things in the World.  They chose to ignore Him and to look the other way.  Jesus challenged their authority and control over the people.  Jesus showed that their teaching was false and misleading and actually a burden for the people not a relief from their sin and pain.  They desired to retain their power and privileges rather than submit to God’s will and to God’s Son, and in doing so looked for a way to rid themselves of this threat. 

  Judas Iscariot completely misunderstood what God was seeking to do through His son, Jesus.  Judas had his own notion as to what the Messiah would achieve in the World, and sought to force the hand of Jesus so as to force Jesus to commence his intervention in the World, as Judas mistakenly perceived Jesus would.  It was only later that Judas realised  the error of his preconceptions.

  This unnamed woman had saved the ointment for a special person and had planned to use it on a special occasion.  In doing what she did, she was demonstrating her gratitude for the kindness and forgiveness that Jesus had shown to her, in contrast to the reaction shown by some there; and unknowingly she was preparing Jesus for His great sacrifice.


“A prophet-woman broke a jar”  TiS696

[only two verses are needed – there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

A prophet-woman broke a jar,

By Love’s divine appointing.

With rare perfume she filled the room,

Presiding and anointing.

A prophet-woman broke a jar,

The sneers of scorn defying.

With rare perfume she filled the room,

Preparing Christ for dying.

Verse 2 of 4

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls,

By love’s divine ordaining,

The friends we need to serve and lead,

Their powers and gifts unchanging.

The Spirit knows, the Spirit calls,

From women, men and children,

The friends we need, to serve and lead,

Rejoice, and make them welcome.

Brian Wren

(Extinguish the first candle)

Screen 2

Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples.

Mark 14: 12 to 17

John 13: 2a, 4 to 5, and 12 to 17

12  On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the lambs for the Passover meal were killed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and get the Passover meal ready for you?”

13  The Jesus sent two of them with these instructions: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him  14  to the house he enters, and say to the owner of the house: ‘The Teacher says, Where is the room where my disciples and I will eat the Passover meal?’  15  Then he will show you a large room, fixed up and furnished, where you will get everything ready for us.”

16  The disciples left, went to the city, and found everything just as Jesus had told them: and they prepared the Passover meal.  17  When it was evening, Jesus came with the twelve disciples.

2a  while they were at supper,  4  Jesus rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel around his waist.  5  Then he poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

12  After Jesus had washed their feet, he put his outer garment back on and returned to his place at the table.  “Do you understand what I have just done to you?” he asked.  13  “You call me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am.  14  I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet.  You, then, should wash one another’s feet.  15  I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.  16  I am telling you the truth: no slave is greater that his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.  17  Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!”


  Often we recoil at the thought of getting our hands and feet dirty so as to assist those in need.  We value cleanliness above service and comfort above inconvenience.  We like to feel appreciated when doing a good deed and thanked for an act of charity.  Yet Jesus showed us that He was not afraid to get on His knees and do the lowliest of tasks.  He was not afraid to be the least one of all if it meant that someone else was to benefit.  He led the way in showing us that we need to put others before ourselves.  And when He washed the feet of the Disciples, they did not thank Him and could not understand that He was demonstrating the way of life that You seek for all of us to follow.  May we too be willing to put aside our wants and our hesitations and get on our hands and knees is the service of others.


“An upper room did our Lord prepare”  TiS536

[only two verses are needed – there is an introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

An upper room did our Lord prepare

For those he loved until the end:

And his Disciples still gather there

To celebrate their risen friend.

Verse 2 of 2

And after supper he washed their feet,

For service, too, is sacrament.

In him our joy shall be made complete;

Sent out to serve, as he was sent.

Frederick Green

(Extinguish the second candle)

Screen 3

Biblical vector illustration series, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion, The Last Supper

The Lord’s Supper

Mark 14: 22 to 252  While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples.  “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.”  23  Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it.  24  Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s Covenant.  (Exodus 24: 8)  25  I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.”  


  God saw the great need of His People in their bondage in Egypt and chose to act out of love for them.  God demonstrated His majesty and power in the way that He brought about the plagues that came upon the nation of Egypt when they refused to bow to His will.  God showed His mercy towards His people by instituting the Passover Meal as a means to identify those who were faithful to Him and who would escape His wrath in the last of the calamities.  Yet we can see that this was an image of what was to come.  God detests sin and desires obedience to His way of life and to His will.  Rightly, at some point in time, God’s wrath will fall of those who have turned their backs on His warnings and on his mercy.  We can only give praise to God for the willingness of Jesus to be our Passover lamb, whose blood was shed for us.

  Nothing that we can do can bridge the abyss that separates us from God.  No rite or good deed, no sacrifice on our part nor holding on to any body of knowledge can bring back the closeness that once was ours.  It is only through God’s mercy and God’s grace that this is possible.  It is only through God’s actions that we can get back to a right relationship with Him, and this necessitated the giving of his Son on our behalf.  If we but stop and consider this, we can gain but a glimpse of what it has cost God, and what suffering He went through.

  And if we do, I pray that we will not forget this, but consider it always when we seek to complain about the minute inconveniences in our lives.  In comparison with what we can give back to God, the sacrifice of Jesus is immeasurable and deserves our praise forever.


“Here, Lord we take the broken bread”  TiS523

[there is an introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

Here, Lord, we take the broken bread

And drink the wine, believing

That by your life our lives are fed,

Your parting gifts receiving.

Verse 2 of 2

As you have giv’n, so we would give

Ourselves for others’ healing:

As you have lived, so we would live

The Father’s love revealing.

Charles Pilcher

(Extinguish the third candle)

Screen 4

Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mark 14: 32 to 40

32  They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  33  He took Peter, James, and John with him.  Distress and anguish came over him,  34  and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me.  Stay here and keep watch.”

35  He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering.  36  “Father,” he prayed, “my Father!  All things are possible for you.  Take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

37  Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?  Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?”  38  And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  39  He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words.  40  Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.  And they did not know what to say to him.


  We see the grief that came over Jesus as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Alone, in the darkness, He faced the darkness that awaited Him in the day ahead.  Alone, with the disciples fast asleep, Jesus had no-one to support him as He poured out His heart to God.  We cannot know the full extent of the anguish that He felt, we cannot conceive of His sorrows.  What we can acknowledge, with sadness and shame, is that it was our sins that brought him to this place, that our indifference to God’s will for our lives made all of this necessary.  We come to god in penitence, asking for His forgiveness of our sins and the cleansing from all unrighteousness, sealed for us by the death of Jesus, a free gift through God’s great and endless grace and mercy.


“Servant king”  TiS256

[only the one verse and chorus are needed – there is a lengthy introduction]


There in the garden of tears,

My heavy load he chose to bear;

His heart with sorrow was torn,

“Yet not my will but yours.’, he said.


This is our God, the Servant King,

He calls us now to follow him,

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to the Servant King.

Graham Kendrick

(Extinguish the fourth candle)

Screen 5

Sebechleby, Slovakia – July 27, 2015: The arresting of Jesus in Gethsemane garden lithography by artist Scheuchl 1907 in the book “Zivot Jezisa Krista bozskeho Spasitela naseho” printed in Trnava.

The Arrest of Jesus

Mark 14: 41 to47

John 18: 10b

Luke 22: 51

Mark 14: 48 to 50

41  When Jesus came back the third time, he said to the disciples, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Enough!  The hour has come!  Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinful men.  42  Get up, let us go.  Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

43  Jesus was still speaking when Judas. One of the twelve disciples, arrived.  With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the Chief Priests, the Teachers of the Law, and the Elders.  44  The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want.  Arrest him and take him away under guard.”

45  As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him.  46  So they arrested Jesus and held him tight.  47  But Peter drew his sword and struck the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.  10b  The name of the slave was Malchus.  51  But Jesus said, “Enough of this!”  He touched the man’s ear and healed  him.

48  Then Jesus spoke up and said to them, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me?  49  Day after day I was with you in the Temple, and you did not arrest me.  But the Scriptures must come true.”  50  Then all the Disciples left him and ran away.  (Psalm 88: 8)


  Jesus had left the Upper Room with the express intention of going forth to meet the henchmen of the Prince of Evil, for He had already resisted the temptation to pray “Father, save me from this hour”, knowing that if that prayer had been granted, there would have been no glorification of His Father, and Humankind would never have known the wonder of His redeeming love.  So when He crosses Kidron Brook to a garden, which was a favourite place for rest and reflection for Himself and His Disciples, what is happening is that the Second Adam is deliberately entering upon the final conflict with the Prince of Evil, reversing the situation in the Garden of Eden where the Serpent took the initiative upon the First Adam.  (Rudolph Tasker in Matthew p194) 

  Judah had silently slipped away from the Passover meal earlier in the evening as soon as he had found out where Jesus had intended to gather with the Disciples.  He had brought with him a company of Temple guards and young priests, armed with swords and clubs, for he was only too aware of the impetuousness of the Disciples, and Peter’s reaction showed how wise Judas had been.  But Jesus rebuked both Peter and those who had come armed to arrest him, for Scripture and History plainly reveal that the wrath of humans fails to accomplish the Will of God.

  Secret Police at work in any part of the World usually make their arrest at night; the victims are liable to be confused and offer less resistance and the neighbours are not likely to gather and protect.  Little has changed over the millennia on such matters.  (Alan Cole in Mark p221 to 223) 


“When his time was over the palms lay where they fell”  TiS357

[No YouTube recording for this hymn could be found on the internet, only a link to the song on the Small Church Music website.  The music from this website will be the music that is played at the worship service.  But as it is a fairly large digital file, it cannot easily be inserted into a Word document and emailed out.]

[verses 1 and 2 only]

Verse 1 of 2

When his time was over the palms lay where they fell,

As they ate together he told his friends farewell

Jesus, though you cried out for some other end,

Love could only choose a cross

When our life began again.

Verse 2 of 2

Secretly they planned it, with money changing hands;

In the quiet garden a kiss betrayed the man.

Priests and elders tried him.  Soldiers crowned him King.

We were in the crowd that day

When our life began again.

Robin Mann

[To facilitate music that is easily accessible as a You Tube recording, I have amended the wording of the two verses in question, displayed below, so as to be able to be sung to the tune There’s a Light upon the Mountain.  I have tried to remain faithful to the intent of the original wording of the hymn in the Together in Song Hymnbook, as displayed above.]

Verse 1 of 2

When his time on Earth was over all the palms lay where they fell,

As they ate their meal together, he told all his friends farewell,

Jesus, though you cried out dearly that there’d be some other end,

Perfect love could only choose a cross

When our life began again.

Verse 2 of 2

Secretly the Chief Priests planned it, and with money changing hands,

When the garden quiet was broken just a kiss betrayed their man.

Priests and Elders sought to try him.  All the soldiers crowned him King.

We were truly in the crowd that day

When our life began again.

[Robin Mann – adapted]

(Extinguish the fifth candle)

Screen 6

Jesus before the Council

Mark 14: 53, 55 to 65

53  Then Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house, where all the Chief Priests, the Elders, and the Teachers of the Law were gathering.  55  The Chief Priests and the whole of the Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any.  56  Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree.

57  Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus:  58  “We heard him say, ‘I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.’”  59  Not even they, however, could make their stories agree.

60  The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus, “Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?”

61  But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word.  Again the High Priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed God?”

62  “I am,” answered Jesus, “and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the almighty and coming with the clouds of Heaven.”

63  The High Priest tore his robes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses!  64  You heard his blasphemy.  What is your decision?”  They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death.

65  Some of them began to spit on Jesus and they blindfolded him and hit him.  “Guess who hit you!” they said.  And the guards took him and slapped him.


  Mark’s account makes it plain that the trial of Jesus before the high Priest and the Council transgressed Jewish Laws.  The meeting of the Council at night was illegal as was the calling of witnesses.  There was no evidence presented to the Council upon which they could condemn Jesus.  Their decision that Jesus was guilty of the charge of blasphemy was based upon Jesus telling them the truth that he was “the Son of Man”.  That they did not seek evidence from Jesus to prove his claim reveals not just that they had already made up their minds to kill Jesus and thus remove a threat to them, but also the depth of hatred and revision and fear towards Jesus.  (C Graham-Swift in Mark in New Bible Commentary p883) 

  Striking a captive was certainly against Jewish Law.  This act shows how abusive and uninterested was the High Priest in any form of Jewish legality, his interest in this case was political, not legal, and certainly not religious.  Jewish literature reports that many High Priests bullied those who opposed them.  Thus, they would certainly not tolerate someone who said that God had directed them to change everything that was central to the High Priest’s religious understanding and social standing among the Jews or who threatened God’s judgement upon Judah’s negligent and self-serving leadership.  (Craig Keener in Mark p173 and in John p307 in The IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament)


“O dearest Jesus, why aren’t you acquitted?”  TiS337

[to the tune Christe Sanctorum]

[only two verses are needed – there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

O dearest Jesus, why aren’t you acquitted?

What crime so dreadful can you have committed?

How are you guilty?  Everyone condemns you.

No-one defends you.

Verse 2 of 2

With thorns they crown you, strike your face and beat you;

They jeer, they mock you, with contempt they treat you,

The righteous Master pays what servants owed him,

Though they disown him.

Johann Heermann

translated by David Schbert

(Extinguish the sixth candle)

Screen 7

The crowd shouted back, “Crucify him!”


Mark 15: 1 to 15a

1  Early in the morning the Chief Priests met hurriedly with the Elders, the Teachers of the Law, and the whole Council, and made their plans.  They put Jesus in chains, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.  2  Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “so you say.”

3  The Chief Priests were accusing Jesus of many things,  4  so Pilate questioned him again, “Aren’t you going to answer?  Listen to all their accusations!”  5  Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed.  (Isaiah 53: 7) 

6  At every Passover Festival Pilate was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner for whom the people asked.  7  At that time, a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot.  8  when the crowd gathered and began to ask Pilate for the usual favour,  9  he asked them, “Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?”  10  He knew very well that the Chief Priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous of Jesus.

11  But the Chief Priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, that Pilate set Barabbas free for them.  12  Pilate spoke again to the crowd, “What, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the King of the Jews?”  13  They shouted back, “Crucify him!”  14  “But what crime has he committed?”, Pilate asked.  They shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”  15  Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barabbas free for them. 


  What we witness in this passage is not a trial of Jesus but a trial of Pilate and a trial of the crowd in Jerusalem.  The crowd who were so easily stirred up by the Chief Priests may not have been the same crowd that cheered Jesus upon his triumphant entry into Jerusalem several days earlier.  That crowd would have been composed of pious pilgrims who had journeyed to Jerusalem but who had returned home or, because of the lack of accommodation in Jerusalem, were residing outside the city.  The crowd appearing before Pilate that morning, given their actions, seemed to be far less pious.  And, doubtless, there were many in the crowd who were the slaves or servants of the priests and religious leaders, instructed or eager to follow the instructions of their owners.  Their fickleness and willingness to be easily swayed, condemned them for seeking the release of someone guilty of a capital offence and seeking the execution of someone innocent of any crime.

  Pilate shows an unwillingness to become involved in the whole affair.  From his questioning of Jesus he could find no justification for the charges made against him.  He is only too aware that their actions against Jesus were born out of jealousy and malice.  Yet, in the end, he too mirrors the actions of the crowd in releasing a guilty man and sentencing to death a man who was not guilty.  Though knowing that Jesus is innocent of any crime, Pilate, yet had sentenced Jesus to be crucified so as to ingratiate himself with the Jewish religious leaders and to placate the aggressive crowd.  (Alan Cole in Mark p232 – p236) 


“My song is love unknown”  TiS341  AHB257  MHB144

[to the tune Darwall]

[only two verses are needed – there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

Why, what has my Lord done?

What makes this rage and spite?

He made the lame to run,

He gave the blind their sight.

Sweet injuries!

Yet they at these

Themselves displease

And ‘gainst him rise.

Verse 2 of 2

They rise and needs will have

My dear Lord made away;

A murderer they save

The Prince of Life they slay.

Yet cheerful he

To suffering goes

That he his foes

from thence might free.

Samuel Crossman

(Extinguish the seventh candle)

Screen 8

Pilate had Jesus whipped.

Mark 15: 15b to 20a

15  Pilate then had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.  16  The soldiers took Jesus inside to the courtyard of the Governor’s Palace and called together the rest of the Company.  17  They put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown of thorny branches, and put it on his head.  18  Then they began to salute him: “Long live the King of the Jews!”  19  They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him, fell on their knees, and bowed down to him.  20  When they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. 


  The Crown of Thorns has often been regarded as an instrument of torture, on the ground that it was woven in the form of a garland out of some plant bearing thorns on stems or branches sufficiently pliable for weaving.  Recent research has shown that the crown was in fact a radiate crown, constructed in the form of a diadem from which rays of sharply pointed spikes extended upwards.  Coins from the period show that the wearing of such a crown was a sign of royalty and divinity.  It may well have been then that Pilate’s soldiers made a crown of this kind to mock the claims of Jesus to be a King and to be divine.

  Perhaps the most telling irony in this story occurs when Pilate brings Jesus outside, face to face with the crowd, and asks, “What, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the King of the Jews?”.  The people persist in demanding that Jesus be crucified, justifying their actions by declaring, ‘We have no King but the Emperor.”  Within hours they would recite in their Passover liturgy that their only King is God, but here, in order to reject Jesus, they have to reject God as well.  They unwittingly testify that Jesus and the Father are one.  (Rudolph Tasker in John p207 and Walter Bruggemann in Texts for Preaching – Year A p253 and 254) 


“Go to dark Gethsemane”  MHB194

[I am unfamiliar with the name of this tune, but it is a familiar one]

[only the first two verses are needed – there is an introduction]

Verse 1 of 2

Go to dark Gethsemane,

Ye that feel the tempter’s power;

Your redeemer’s conflict see;

Watch with him one bitter hour;

Turn not from his griefs away:

Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

Turn not from his griefs away:

Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

Verse 2 of 2

Follow to the judgement-hall;

View the Lord of Life arraigned.

O the wormwood and the gall!

O the pangs his soul sustained!

Shun not suffering, shame or loss:

Learn of him to bear the cross.

Shun not suffering, shame or loss:

Learn of him to bear the cross.

James Montgomery

(Extinguish the eighth candle)

Screen 9

Engraving of Jesus Christ nailed on the cross.Illustration from an old german bible published by Johann Philipp Andrea in 1704See more BIBLE images here:

Jesus is crucified

Mark 15: 20b to 32

20  Then they led Jesus out to crucify him.  21  On the way they met a man named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.  (Simon was from Cyrene and was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)  22  They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull”.  23  There they tried to give him wine mixed with a drug called Myrrh, but Jesus would not drink it.  (Psalm 69: 21) 24  Then they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing dice to see who would get which piece of clothing.  (Psalm 22: 18)  25  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.  26  The notice of accusation against him said: “The King of the Jews”.  27  They also crucified two bandits with Jesus, one on his right and the other on his left.  28  In this way the Scripture came true which says, “He shared the fate of criminals.”  (Isaiah 53: 12) 

29  People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus: “Aha!  You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up in three days!  30  Now come down from the cross and save yourself!”  (Psalm 22: 6 to 8, 69: 19 & 20, 109: 25) 

31  In the same way the Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law made fun of Jesus, saying to one another, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  32  Let us see the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him!”  And the two who were crucified with Jesus insulted him also.


  Jesus was crucified outside the City of Jerusalem, at a place called “The Skull”, “Golgotha” in Hebrew, and “Calvarium” in Latin.  There is only one place around Jerusalem which has borne, and still bears, the name “Skull Hill”.  It is just outside the north wall, near the Damascus Gate.  It is a rock ledge some 30 feet high, devoid of vegetation and with a striking resemblance to a human skull.  (Henry Halley in Halley’s Bible Handbook p385, Alan Cole in Mark p238) 

  Jesus was regarded as a common criminal in that he bore His own cross.  The veracity of Mark’s account that a man by the name of Simon assisted Jesus to carry his cross is borne out by the knowledge that Simon’s sons were known to Peter or Mark or a close contact.

  John relates that it was Pilate who prepared and caused the title to be placed on the cross.  It was the statement “King of the Jews” which caused resentful protests among Jewish leaders, and which reveals the obstinacy of Pilate.  (Donald Guthrie in John in New Bible Commentary p964)  He could not resist avenging himself on the Jewish leaders who had placed him in such a difficult situation by bringing Jesus to be tried by him.  (Alan Cole in Mark p235)  To the Christian, though, it is no irony but God’s very vindication of His son, even in the hour of his death.  (Alan Cole in Mark p238) 

  There was a prophetic truth in the bitter words spoken by the Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law.  To descend from the cross was not indeed a physical impossibility for Jesus, but a moral and spiritual impossibility for the Messiah.  If he had done so, Jesus would cease to be God’s Christ, treading God’s path to Messiahship, instead, he would become a mere Human Christ.  (Alan Cole in Mark p241) 


“There is a green hill far away”  TiS350  AHB266  MHB180

[verse 1, 2 and 3 only – there is an introduction]

Verse 1 of 3

There is a green hill far away,

Outside a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.

Verse 2 of 3

We may not know, we cannot tell,

What pains he had to bear,

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

Verse 3 of 3

He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good,

That we might go at last to Heaven,

Saved by his precious blood.

Cecil Alexander

(Extinguish the ninth candle)

Screen 10

Descent from the Cross. Chromolithograph, published in 1886.

Jesus dies

Mark 15: 33 to 37

John 19: 30b

Mark 15: 38 to41

33  At noon, the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours.  34  At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”, which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”  (Psalm 22: 1) 

35  Some of the people there heard him and said, “Listen he is calling for Elijah!”  36  One of them ran up with a sponge soaked it in cheap wine, and put it on the end of a stick.  Then he held it up to Jesus’ lips and said, “Wait!  Let us see if Elijah is coming to bring him down from the cross.”  (Psalm 69: 21) 

37  With a loud cry  30  Jesus said, “It is finished.”  Then he bowed his head and died.

38  The curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom.  39  The Roman Centurion who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had cried out and died.  “This man was really the Son of God!” he said.

40  Some women were there, looking on from a distance.  (Psalm 38: 11)  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of the younger James and of Joseph, and Salome.  41  They had followed Jesus while he was in Galilee and had helped him.  Many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him were there also.


  In Mark’s narrative a group of women stand looking on, some distance from the cross; Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of the younger James and of Joseph, and Salome are named specifically.  The reader is thus confronted with a dramatic contrast between faith and unbelief, for these women are seen over against the soldiers in charge of the crucifixion.  Christ divides Humankind in his death as he had done in his life, and as he has done ever since.  The soldiers, though ignorant of the significance of what is happening, nevertheless unconsciously fulfil the words of the prophesy in Psalm 22 by dividing the clothes of Jesus and ‘tossing up’ dice for the possession of his clothes.  (Rudolph Tasker in John p210) 

  Ultimately it is neither Pilate nor the religious authorities who hold the power at the trial and crucifixion.  Details of the story are viewed in light of the Hebrew Scriptures as the fulfilment of Divine predictions.  The effect is to remind the reader that what is happening is part of the greater plan of God.  Jesus confronts Pilate’s pretence of power “you would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above”  (John 19: 11)  .  At His death Jesus utters a word not of distress or god-forsakenness, but of completion: “It is finished”.  The purpose of God has been fulfilled.”  (Bruggemann in Texts for Preaching – Year A p254) 

  The early Church owed much to women who were devoted to Jesus and to the Gospel.  From what we read, they supported Jesus during his ministry, travelling wherever he went so as to provide for his needs and the needs of the disciples.  Where the disciples were fearful to show themselves, they were the ones who stood by Jesus at his crucifixion, supporting him at his death.  From Paul’s writings we read of devoted women who were at the heart of many New Testament churches and who opened their homes for Christian worship and fellowship.  Such has been the pattern ever since.  (Alan Cole in Mark p246) 


“Behold the Saviour of Mankind”  MHB193

[to the tune Capel]

[only 3 verses are needed – there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 3

Behold the Saviour of Mankind

Nailed to the shameful tree!

How vast the love that him inclined

To bleed and die for thee!

Verse 2 of 3

Hark, how he groans, while nature shakes,

And Earth’s strong pillars bend;

The Temple’s veil in sunder breaks,

The solid marbles rend.

Verse 3 of 3

‘Tis done!  The precious ransom’s paid;

“Receive my soul.”, he cries.

See where he bows his sacred head,

He bows his head and dies.

Samuel Wesley

(Extinguish the tenth candle)

Screen 11

Madaba, Jordan – September, 30, 2013: religious mosaic on the walls of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George, a 19th-century Greek Orthodox church housing treasures of early Christianity

Jesus is buried.

Mark 15: 42 to 47

42  It was toward evening when Joseph of Arimathea arrived.  43  He was a respected member of the Council, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God.  It was Preparation Day, the day before the Sabbath, so Joseph went boldly into the presence of Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus.  44  Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead.  He called the Centurion and asked him if Jesus had been dead a long time.  45  After hearing the Centurion’s report, Pilate told Joseph he could have the body.  46  Joseph bought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it in the sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock.  The he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb.  47  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph were watching and saw where the body of Jesus was placed.


  The truth that Jesus really died on the cross, in contract to the doubt expressed by some people both at the time and by writers in our own day, is reinforced by Mark’s account of Pilate asking the Centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion to verify for him that Jesus was truly dead.  We can accept with confidence that the Centurion’s report to Pilate that Jesus had indeed died, was trustworthy, because executing people was what he had been trained to do and because there were serious consequences if he had failed in his duties.

  Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus according to John’s account, and it is he who accepts responsibility for the burial of Jesus.  Jewish Law dictated that Jesus’ body needed to be buried by sunset  (Deuteronomy 21: 22 & 23)  , so there was some urgency to the matter.  Joseph was a member of the Council who had the previous evening determined that Jesus had to die and who had very early that day brought Jesus before Pilate for the sentence of death to be proclaimed.  From his actions at this time it is doubtful if he took part in the deliberations of the Council the previous evening.  We have seen how upset was Pilate with their actions.  So we can understand that it took some courage for Joseph to appear before Pilate so as to request Pilate’s approval for the body of Jesus to be taken down from the cross.

  Joseph arranged for the body of Jesus to be lowered from the cross.  Joseph accepted the cost of purchasing the linen sheet in which the body of Jesus was wrapped.  Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in the linen cloth and placed his body in a tomb that he himself had paid for, according to Matthew’s gospel.  And it was Joseph who sealed the tomb.  But because of the haste involved, there was no time for the appropriate anointing of the body of Jesus, hence we read of the two Mary’s watching nearby, noting exactly in which tomb that Jesus had been laid.  They were the ones who would need to return after the Sabbath to anoint the body of Jesus, thus providing the link to the resurrection events. 

  We can only gauge the feelings of those who were closely associated with the events of this day.  Of the disciples there was no sign, since they were gathered behind locked doors, afraid to show their faces in public in case they were recognised as followers of Jesus and reported to the Temple authorities.  (John 20: 19)    The women from Galilee who had followed Jesus to Jerusalem were at a loss as to the future held for them, for the purpose directing their lives in recent times was now gone.  What were they to do, except to return home after the Sabbath?  Joseph, we read, was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God.  He had pinned his hopes on Jesus to be the one by which this would happen.  But, now, there was only despondency for Jesus was dead and buried.

  It was only the Chief Priests, the Elders and the Teachers of the Law who had reason to celebrate, for they seemingly had accomplished their dream of removing Jesus, who was a thorn in their side, a threat to their position and status, a threat to the established pattern of religious life and religious observances, a competitor for the attention of the people, and someone who made them uncomfortable and who challenged all of their fondly held beliefs and practices. 


“We sing the praise of him who died”  TiS347  AHB262  MHB196

[sung to the tune Warrington]

[ there is no introduction]

Verse 1 of 3

We sing the praise of him who died,

Of him who died upon the cross;

The sinner’s hope though all deride;

For this we count the World but loss.

Verse 2 of 3

Inscribed upon the cross we see

In shining letters, ‘God is love’;

He bears our sins upon the tree;

He brings us mercy from above.

Verse 3 of 3

The cross – it takes our guilt away,

It holds the fainting spirit up,

It cheers with hope the gloomy day

And sweetens every bitter cup.

Thomas Kelly

(Extinguish the eleventh candle)

(All are to slowly and silently file out of the Church.)