Good Friday Hour at the Cross. 2013
March 29, 2013
Opening Music: Schubert. Death and the Maiden (arr Mahler)
This afternoon, we will hear the last chapter of Mark’s Passion Narrative. Mark’s Gospel has been described as a Passion Narrative with an extended introduction. One eighth of its 16 chapters cover the Passion.
It has a different emphasis from the Passion narratives in the other other three Gospels. Like the rest of Mark’s Gospel, it presents Jesus as the Suffering Servant of God, and as the misunderstood and unrecognised Messiah. He is powerless from the moment of his arrest in the garden. He does nothing; things are done to him. He says very little. From the moment he answers Pilate saying “You say I am” he is silent until his final cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In Mark’s Passion, Jesus is totally forsaken. His disciples all run away and deny knowing him. The woman who love him stand far off. Passers by mock him, and even the insurgents crucified alongside him taunt him. At the end he feels that even God has deserted him.
Try to hear Mark’s Passion story without any echoes of the other Gospels – as Mark intended you to hear it.
Why does Mark say Jesus died? There is no hint of a sacrificial death or penal substitution. Mark says Jesus died because he was obedient to the will of God, following what he believed was God’s will, even if it meant his own death. He died because of the wickedness of his enemies in Jerusalem and Rome, because he stood up against the religious and political power systems that oppressed ordinary people, and these reacted in the way they normally do. He died because of the sinfulness of his world, which is still our world. He died as a ransom for many and to effect a new covenant with God, open to all.
So how is this Good News for this Good Friday? This passion appeals to those who are oppressed or suffering or depressed, because it tells them that the way they are treading, Jesus has trodden before them. It says that through his acceptance of suffering and death, Jesus is vindicated as King of Israel and Son of God. It says that all those who are his disciples and follow him on the Way of the Cross will, like him, be vindicated by God and raised to glory.
Reading: Mark 15, 1-15. Jesus before Pilate
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do* with the man you call* the King of the Jews?’ 13They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 14Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
For the things we have done which we regret, forgive us.
For the things which we have failed to do which we regret, forgive us.
For all the times we have acted without love, forgive us.
For all the times we have reacted without thought, forgive us.
For all the times we have withdrawn care, forgive us.
For all the times we have failed to forgive, forgive us.
For hurtful words said, and helpful words unsaid,
for unfinished tasks and unfulfilled hopes,
God of all time,
forgive us and help us to lay down our burdens of regret.
Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, have mercy on us. Amen.
Reading: Mark 15, 16 – 20 The soldiers mock Jesus
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters*); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have won for us,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Hymn: Praise to the holiest
Reading: Mark 15, 21-32 Jesus is crucified
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus* to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.* 29Those who passed by derided* him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah,* the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
Creator of all the peoples of the earth,
have compassion on those who do not know you
and on those who have hardened their hearts against your love.
May the grace and power of that love gather us together
in your presence.
We pray this in the Spirit of the One who forgave them
for they knew not what they did. Amen
Hymn: Drop, drop slow tears
Reading: Psalm 22 1- 31
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8 ‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth* is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;*
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life* from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued* me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;*
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,*
but heard when I* cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor* shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.*
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him,* indeed, shall all who sleep in* the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.*
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and* proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
God of compassion,
have mercy on all who cry out to you
out of darkness and despair,
and strengthen us as we face the cost of discipleship,
in union with your Son,
our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reading: Mark 15, 33-47 Jesus’s death and burial
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land* until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’* 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he* breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’*
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Then Joseph* bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body,* wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body* was laid.
Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for us,
help us to see and know your love for us.
Help us to see the cost of our forgiveness,
so that we may be made new through your love.
Jesus, Lord of the Cross,
We thank you that you went into
the heart of our evil and pain, along a way that was both terrible and wonderful,
as you kingship became your brokenness
and your dying became love’s triumph.
We bow down before the cross in wonder and sorrow.
Holy God, holy and strong,
Holy and immortal,
Have mercy on us.