In Christendom, Good Friday is marked as the day Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the supreme price on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of mankind. It is observed during Holy or Passion Week and as part of the Paschal Triduum, a three-day intense spiritual procedure that reaches its climax on Easter Sunday with the resurrection. Members of many Christian denominations, including the Anglican, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox and Reformed traditions, observe Good Friday with fasting and church services.
According to the accounts in the Gospels, the royal soldiers, guided by Jesus’ disciple, Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Following his arrest, Jesus was taken to the house of Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. There he was interrogated with little result and sent, bound, to Caiaphas the high priest where the Sanhedrin had assembled.
Conflicting testimony against Jesus was brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answered nothing. Finally, Finally the high priest adjured Jesus to respond under solemn oath, “I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?” Jesus testified ambiguously, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven.” Following this the high priest adjured Jesus to respond under solemn oath, “I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?” Jesus testified ambiguously, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
Following this the high priest condemned him for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin concurred with a sentence of death. But because by Roman law the Jews were not to carry out a sentence of death, He was taken to Pilate and then to King Herod and back to Pilate who told the assembly that neither he nor Herod found Jesus to be guilty. But yielding to Jewish pressure and blackmail, he had Jesus crucified. Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours. During those hours, from noon to 3 pm, darkness fell over the whole land and with a loud cry, Jesus gave up his spirit.
Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock in a garden near the site of crucifixion. On the third day, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus rose from the dead. Because the sacrifice of Jesus through his crucifixion is commemorated on this day, the Divine Liturgy (the sacrifice of bread and wine) is never celebrated on Good Friday, except when this day coincides with the Great Feast of the Annunciation, which falls on the fixed date of 25 March.
The faithful revisit the events of the day through public reading of specific Psalms and the Gospels, and singing hymns about Christ’s death. Rich visual imagery and symbolism as well as stirring hymnody are remarkable elements of these observances. Each hour of this day is the new suffering and the new effort of the expiatory suffering of the Saviour.
And the echo of this suffering is already heard in every word of worship service – unique and incomparable both in the power of tenderness and feeling and in the depth of the boundless compassion for the suffering of the Saviour. The Holy Church opens before the eyes of believers” a full picture of the redeeming suffering of the Lord beginning with the bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane up to the crucifixion on Golgotha.
Taking the congregation back through the past centuries in thought, the Holy Church brings all to the foot of the cross of Christ erected on Golgotha, and makes them present among the quivering spectators of all the torture of the Saviour.
Many people in different countries celebrate the anniversary of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. This is an observance that involves people fasting and praying. Many church services are held in the afternoon, usually around noon or midday to 3pm, to remember the hours when Jesus hung on the cross. Many churches also observe the day by re-enacting the procession of the cross as in the ritual of the Stations of the Cross, which depicts the final hours of Jesus’ life.
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