Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Gordon's Calvary near the Garden Tomb
The day traditional associated with the crucifixion of Jesus, the Friday before Easter, is called "Good Friday" in English either because it is a "holy" Friday, or, more likely, because in English "good" is often an archaic expression for "God."  Hence "goodbye" for "go with God."  Accordingly it is "God's Friday" because on this day was the culmination of God's reconciling the world to himself through the death of his Son.

[You can see our activities here in Jerusalem in the post "With Rachel for Good Friday."  There are also reflections and detailed discussions that were important parts of God So Loved the World that I cannot excerpt in large part here—maybe you will be interested in actually looking at the book!]

Matt 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28–19:42; see also 3 Nephi 8

•    Jesus in the Hands of the Romans (Mark 15:1–21; Matt 27:1–32; Luke 23:1–32; John 18:29–19:17a)
•    At Calvary (Mark 15:22–28; Matt 27:33–38; Luke 23:33–34, 38; John 19:17b–24)
•    Activities at the Cross (Mark 15:29–32; Matt 27:39–44; Luke 23:35–43; John 19:25–27)
•    Last Moments (Mark 15:33–37; Matt 27:45–50; Luke 23:44–46; John 19:28–30)
•    The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42–47; Matt 27:57–66; Luke 23:50–56; John 19:38–42)

Suggested Music: Suggested Music: "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown." (hymn 197)

Suggested Listening: Bach, St . John Passion; Handel, Messiah, Part II.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Romans 5:8–12).
None of the gospels directly date the crucifixion to Friday; this is a deduction from the fact that a sabbath began at sundown shortly after Jesus died.  While it is a natural inference that this was the weekly sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday), the first day of the Passover as a "high day" was also a sabbath (John 19:31; see note 31c in the LDS KJV), making it possible that Jesus was crucified on a Thursday.

For further reading
: Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 665–1313.

Eric D. Huntsman, "Before the Romans," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ 3, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 269–317.

Kent P. Jackson, "The Crucifixion," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 318–337.

Eric D. Huntsman, "The Lamb of God: Unique Aspects of the Passion Narrative in John," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration (Provo: Religious Study Center, 2008), 49–70, n.b., 60–65.

Dawn C. Pheysey, "Picturing the Crucifixion," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, 155–164.

Robert Millet, "Glorying in the Cross of Christ," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, 125–138.

Cecilia M. Peek, "The Burial," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 338–377.

Herod's Palace, later the Roman governor's residence
Church of the Condemnation

Jesus in the Hands of the Romans: Trial, Scourging, and Mocking

Before Pilate (Mark 15: 2–5; Matt 27:2–14; Luke 23:1–12; John 18:28–38a)
•    Jesus Brought to Pilate (Mark 15:1b–2; Matt 27:1b–2; Luke 23:1; John 18:28)
•    The Accusation of the Jewish Authorities (Luke 23:2; John 18:29–32)
•    Suicide of Judas Iscariot (Matt 27:3–10)
Pilate and Jesus
•    Pilate Questions Jesus Publicly (Mark 15:2–5; Matt 27:11–14; Luke 23:3–5)
•    Pilate Interviews Christ Privately (John 18:33–38a: Art thou a king?)
•    Jesus Before Herod (Luke 23:6–12)
•    Pilate and the Mob (Mark 15:6–11; Matt 27:15–23; Luke 23:13–23; John 18:38b–19:12)
•    Pilate Plans to Flog and Release Jesus (Luke 23:13–17)
•    Barabbas or Jesus? (Mark 15:6–11; Matt 27:15–23; Luke 23:18–19, 24–25a; John 18:38b–40)
•    Pilate Has Christ Scourged and Mocked (John 19:1–3)
•    Pilate Presents Jesus to the Mob (John 19:4–7)
•    Pilate Again Interviews Christ Privately (John 19:8–11: Whence art thou?)
•    Pilate Again Tries to Release Jesus (Luke 23:20–23; John 19:12)
•    Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified (Mark 15:12–15; Matt 27:24–26; Luke 23:24–26; John 19:13–16)
On the Way to the Cross
•    The Soldiers Mock Jesus Preliminary to His Crucifixion (Mark 15:16–20a; Matt 27:27–31)
•    Simon of Cyrene Bears the Cross (Mark 15:20b–21; Matt 27:32; Luke 23:26; the Johannine Jesus carries his own cross)
•    Women Bewail Jesus (Luke 23:27–31)

Whereas the charge in the Jewish hearing was one of blasphemy, the one laid against Jesus in the Roman trial was political: Jesus claimed to be a king, an offense against the Roman order.  Pilate is described in the gospels as indecisive and at times even desirous to let Jesus go.  This in no way exculpates him; when political pressure is brought upon him by the Jewish leadership ("If thou let this man go, thou are not Caesar's friend . . ." John 19:12), Pilate knowingly allowed an innocent man be executed.  In the end, discussions of immediate responsibility are irrelevant.  Jesus' death was a critical part of the plan of salvation, and it was made necessary by us.  Elsewhere I have written,
" . . . what remains important is that judgment took place, and it is both significant and ironic that the two 'trials' of Jesus took place before the two peoples who were most dedicated to and obsessed by law. Just as the two trials reflect the two realities of Christ’s identity—as both Son of God and King—so the Jews and the Romans represent all Gentiles and all of Israel (Acts 4:27). Examining the trial should not be for us an issue of assigning culpability—to Judas, the chief priests, or Pilate—for the betrayal and condemnation were necessary parts of the Atonement." ("Roman Trial of Jesus," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 316)
And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. (1 Nephi 19:9)
Church of the Flagellation
After both the Jewish hearing and the Roman trial, Jesus was subjected to abuse: mocking, scourging, spitting.  Although often overlooked as we concentrate on the three pivotal points of the Atonement—Gethsemane, Golgotha, and Garden Tomb---this abuse was a prophesied part of what Jesus would suffer for us.  The fact some of the most powerful recorded prophecies of the abuse and mockery are found in the Book of Mormon in such passages as 1 Nephi 19:9, 2 Nephi 6:9, and Mosiah 3:9 suggests that they cannot be overlooked.  "The focus there is not with when and how the scourging, hitting, and spitting took place, but why. Christ was willing to suffer these things ‘because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.’" (Huntsman, 316-317)

View "Jesus Is Condemned before Pilate," Bible Videos.

Much of this experience is powerfully represented in the beautiful hymn adapted from a Bach chorus, "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown."

    O Savior, thou who wearest
    A crown of piercing thorn,
    The pain thou meekly bearest,
    Weigh’d down by grief and scorn.
    The soldiers mock and flail thee;
    For drink they give thee gall;
    Upon the cross they nail thee
    To die, O King of all.

    No creature is so lowly,
    No sinner so depraved,
    But feels thy presence holy
    And thru thy love is saved.
    Tho craven friends betray thee,
    They feel thy love’s embrace;
    The very foes who slay thee
    Have access to thy grace.

    Thy sacrifice transcended
    The mortal law’s demand;
    Thy mercy is extended
    To ev’ry time and land.
    No more can Satan harm us,
    Tho long the fight may be,
    Nor fear of death alarm us;
    We live, O Lord, thru thee.

    What praises can we offer
    To thank thee, Lord most high?
    In our place thou didst suffer;
    In our place thou didst die,
    By heaven’s plan appointed,
    To ransom us, our King.
    O Jesus, the anointed,
    To thee our love we bring! (Hymn 197)

Reflection: A Man of Sorrows

The cumulative feelings of betrayal, abuse, rejection, and false judgment despised were foreseen by Isaiah, whose words are movingly caught by Handel in the sorrowful mezzo-soprano air "He Was Despised" and the following choruses "Surely He Hath Born Our Griefs" and "With His Stripes We Are Healed."
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3–55)
The fact that "with his stripes we are healed" demonstrates that these incidents were, in fact, parts of our Lord’s atoning journey. Further, what Jesus experienced personally in this terrible day, together with the vicarious suffering that began in the Garden the night before, seem part of the filling his bowels with mercy "that he may know how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (See Alma 7:12).

Yet even while the Lord can truly empathize with us in our afflictions, there are ways in which our sorrows, heartaches, and sufferings allow us, in some measure, to be more like our Savior. Paul wrote, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5). How often we pray to be more like Jesus, but when pain, rejection, loss, and heartache come our way, we recoil and beg for these experiences to be taken away! Yet when we learn true patience, the Latin root of which is "suffer," from these experiences, our ability to trust in God and understand and empathize with others who similarly suffer grows exponentially.


At Calvary (Mark 15:22–28; Matt 27:33–38; Luke 23:32–34, 38; John 19:17b–24)
•    Golgotha, "The Place of the Skull," or Calvary (Mark 15:22; Matt 27:33; Luke 23:33a; John 19:17b)
•    Jesus Refuses Wine and Myrrh – cf. Prov.31:6 (Mark15:23; Mark 27:34)
•    Jesus’ Clothing divided – cf. Ps. 22:18 (Mark 15:24; Matt 27:35b–36; Luke 23: 23:34b; John 19:23–24)
•    Jesus’ tunic/undergarment not rent (John 19:23b–24)
•    Jesus Crucified – Mark’s Third Hour (Mark 15:25; Matt 27:35a; Luke 23:33b; John 19:18a)
•    Jesus Prays for Forgiveness for Those Crucifying Him (Luke 23:34a)
•    The Superscription "King of the Jews" [trilingual in Luke] (Mark 15:26; Matt 27:37; Luke 23:38; John 19:19–20)

Holy Sepulchre, traditional site of the crucifixion
The Synoptics, following Mark, have Jesus crucified at the third hour (approximately 9:00 a.m.).  Darkness and physical manifestations of the suffering of Jesus occurred at the sixth hour (12:00 noon), and Jesus died at the sixth hour (about 3:00 p.m.).  Some scholars have suggested that Mark wrote his gospel to be read aloud, and that these precise hours reflect an early Christian practice of dramatizing the Passion narrative and perhaps praying or worshiping at these hours.  John portrays the crucifixion as taking place at noon, which gives more time for the trial and the events of that morning; he agrees that our Lord died about 3:00.

Activities at the Cross (Mark 15:29–32; Matt 27:39–44; Luke 23:35–43; John 19:25–27)
•    First Mockery – passersby "save yourself" (Mark 15:29–30; Matt 27:39–40; Luke 23:35)
•    Second Mockery – chief priests and scribes, "he saved others, come down and we will believe (Mark 15:31–32; Matt 27:41–43)
•    Soldiers Mock Jesus, "If You Are the King of the Jews," and Offer Him Sour Wine (Luke 23:36–37)
•    Third Mockery – Bandit(s) deride him the same way (Matt 27:44; Luke 23:39
•    "Salvation" of the Believing Bandit (Luke 23:40–43)
•    Women at the Foot of the Cross (John 19:25)
•    Jesus’ Mother Commended to the Beloved Disciple (John 19:26–27)

Last Sayings of Jesus

•    "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
•    "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
•    "Woman, behold your son: behold your mother" (John 19:26–27).
•    "Eli Eli lema sabachthani?" (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
•    "I thirst" (John 19:28).
•    "It is finished" (John 19:30).
•    "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

While it became popular in the Middle Ages, and recently in the media (as witnessed by Brother Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), to focus on extreme suffering of Jesus' scourging and crucifixion, the gospels themselves are sparing of such brutal details.  They simply state, for instance, "there they crucified him."  Instead the emphasis is on the words and symbolic acts of Jesus that fulfill prophecy.  These include the "Seven Last Sayings of Jesus," his crucifixion between two bandits or criminals, the division of his garments, offering poor wine as a drink, the failure to break his legs, and his side being pierced.

Last Moments (Mark 15:33–37; Matt 27:45–50; Luke 23:44–46; John 19:28–30)
•    Darkness from the Sixth to the Ninth Hour (Mark 15:33; Matt 27:45; Luke 23:44–45a)
•    Jesus’ Cry, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34–35; Matt 27:46–47)
•    Jesus Given Sour Wine – cf. Ps. 69:21 (Mark 15:36; Matt 27:48–49; John 19:28–30a [on a hyssop branch in John])
•    Jesus Cries Out and Expires (Mark 15:37; Matt 27:50)
•    Jesus Commends His Spirit to His Father and Expires (Luke 23:46)
•    Jesus Announced "It is finished," and Gives Up His Spirit (John 19:30b)

Significantly, the greatest suffering that our Lord suffered on the cross does not seem to be anything that man inflicted upon him.  Jesus’ cry, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34–35; Matt 27:46–47), may reflect that, as in Gethsemane, carrying the weight of our sins necessarily separated him from his Father in a way that he never experienced before, leading Elder McConkie, following Elder Talmage, to write:
Then the heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 p.m., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred." (McConkie, May 1985)
When the prophecies had all been fulfilled and his work for us completed, our Lord cried out and died (Mark 15:37; Matt 27:50; Luke 23:46).  Luke sensitively notes that Jesus commended his spirit to his Father; John records that he authoritatively declared "It is finished" (John 19:30b), typical of the divine Johannine Jesus who "laid down his life" because no one could take it from him.

View "Jesus Is Scourged and Crucified," Bible Videos

Two of my favorite sacrament hymns reflect these final events, portraying them with different tenors.  First, "Behold the Great Redeemer Die."

    Behold the great Redeemer die,
    A broken law to satisfy.
    He dies a sacrifice for sin,
    He dies a sacrifice for sin,
    That man may live and glory win.

    While guilty men his pains deride,
    They pierce his hands and feet and side;
    And with insulting scoffs and scorns,
    And with insulting scoffs and scorns,
    They crown his head with plaited thorns.

    Although in agony he hung,
    No murm’ring word escaped his tongue.
    His high commission to fulfill,
    His high commission to fulfill,
    He magnified his Father’s will.

    “Father, from me remove this cup.
    Yet, if thou wilt, I’ll drink it up.
    I’ve done the work thou gavest me,
    I’ve done the work thou gavest me;
    Receive my spirit unto thee.”

    He died, and at the awful sight
    The sun in shame withdrew its light!
    Earth trembled, and all nature sighed,
    Earth trembled, and all nature sighed
    In dread response, “A God has died!” (Hymn, 191)

Then, "There Is a Green Hill Far Away."

    There is a green hill far away,
    Without a city wall,
    Where the dear Lord was crucified,
    Who died to save us all.

    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.

    There was no other good enough
    To pay the price of sin.
    He only could unlock the gate
    Of heav’n and let us in. (Hymn 194)

John ends his testimony of the Lord's saving death with this important event:

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. (John 19:33-35)
John emphasized the importance of this sign, I think, because it provides a testimony of who Jesus really was and what he had done for us.  Throughout the gospel of John blood is the symbol of life but mortal life, whereas water is a symbol of eternal or divine life.  Could it be that the blood represented Jesus' mortal inheritance from his mother Mary, the power to lay his life down for sin and that water represented his divine inheritance from God his Father, the power to take it up again and be to us "a well of water springing up unto everlasting life?"

Signs and Reactions to Christ’s Death (Mark 15:38–41; Matt 27:51–56; Luke 23:45b, 47–49; John 19:31–37)
•    Rending of the Temple Veil – cf. Hebrews 9:11–12, 24–26 (Mark 15:38; Matt 27:51; Luke 23:45b)
•    Tombs Open and Dead Saints Arise after His Resurrection (Matt 27:52–53)
•    The Centurion’s Testimony (Mark 15:39; Matt 27:54; Luke 23:47)
•    The People Mourn and Return (Luke 23:48)
•    The Witness of the Women Standing Afar Off (Mark 15:40–41; Matt 27: 55–56; Luke 23:49)
•    Jewish Authorities Request that the Victims’ Legs Be Broken (John 19:31–33)
•    Jesus’ legs not broken – cf. Ex 12:46; Num 9:12 (John 19:33, 36)
•    Christ’s side Pierced: the Sign of Blood and Water (John 19:34–35)
•    Fulfilled: "They shall look upon him whom they pierced" (John 19:37)

The Burial of Jesus

•    Joseph of Arimathaea Requests Jesus’ Body (Mark 15:42–45; Matt 27:57–58; Luke 23:50–52 [Joseph’s righteousness and messianic expectation attested]; John 19:38 [Joseph a secret disciple])
•    Nicodemus Brings a Kingly Amount of Burial Spices in Daylight (John 19:39–40; cf. 3:2a, 14)
•    Placing the Body in the New Tomb (Mark 15:46a; Matt 27:58–60a; Luke 23:53–54; John 19:41–42)
•    Sealing the Tomb (Mark 15:46b; Matt 27:60b)
•    The Women Witness Where the Body Was Laid (Mark 15:47; Matt 27:61; Luke 23:55–56)
•    The Pharisees Request and Obtain a Guard from Pilate (Matt 27:62–66)

Following Jesus' death, Joseph of Arimathea, assisted according to John by Nicodemus, obtained the body of Jesus and buried it in a "new tomb."  Nicodemus' involvement in the Fourth Gospel is telling.  Sometimes seen as a secret disciple of Jesus or as one who represents those who lacked sufficient faith to support Him openly, he had visited Jesus secretly by night in John 3 and then tried, weakly, to speak for Jesus before the council in John 7:45-53.  However, in his third appearance in the Gospel of John at the burial of Jesus (19:38-42), Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus when it was dark, comes out into the light, bringing a kingly amount of spices to assist Joseph of Arimathaea in preparing Jesus= body to be placed in the tomb.  Significantly, this occurs after Jesus has been lifted up upon the cross, a fulfilment of a prophecy made by Jesus that He would be lifted up "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness" (3:14).

Traditionally placed at the site of the Holy Sepulchre, which in the Herodian period was outside of the city walls, many Protestants and most Latter-day Saints instead identify the Garden Tomb outside the current city walls near the site of Gordon's Calvary (which today looks like a skull) as the probable site of Jesus' final resting place.  Located in a modern garden, it conveys better the sense of what the tomb and its setting must indeed have been like, and Presidents Lee and Kimball are both on record as having had particularly strong impressions at the site.  On the other hand, many archaeologists have noted that the Garden Tomb is actually a much earlier tomb and does not date to the first century.  President Hinckley, in his personal remarks preluding the Testimony of the Living Christ that was filmed on the site, has said, "Just outside the walls of Jerusalem, in this place or somewhere nearby was the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where the body of the Lord was interred."

Perhaps more exactly similar to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea is the family tomb of the Herods, which is securely dated to the time of Christ and includes the rolling stone and other features described.  Still, the Garden Tomb remains in the hearts and minds the best place for picturing the setting not just of our Lord's burial but also the miracle of his resurrection.

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