While Isaiah 53 was written with the captivity of Israel in mind, its verses contain a prophetic account of the sufferings of Christ, including the design of his sufferings. Jesus suffered for our sins, in our place. This atonement is the only way of salvation. By his sufferings Jesus purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God. We will endure if we love him who has first loved us.
This service was designed to include the following elements:
This Good Friday service focuses on Mark 14-15. As Jesus cries out from the cross, the curtain of the temple tears from top to bottom, opening the way into the Holy of Holies. The service begins with the Old Testament background of the tabernacle and temple and culminates in communion in the most holy presence of God, not just for the High Priest, but for everyone who comes by way of the cross.
What did Jesus mean when he said “It is finished”? This readers’ theater examines the multiple meanings of that phrase. It would work well in any Good Friday service, but is especially appropriate as part of a service on the Last Words of Christ (see RW 14 and 78 for service ideas on the Last Words). —JB
[As readers’ theater begins, a cellist plays “Man of Sorrows” in the background.]
Our worship planning team decided to present the story of Jesus’ betrayal, death, and burial from the perspectives of those who were there. We chose six characters from the passion narratives and asked six people from the congregation to tell their stories. They were encouraged to immerse themselves in their character by reading the Scripture passage and by familiarizing themselves with the dramatic reading—even memorizing it, if they chose.
This service is designed for use on Good Friday, but it would also be appropriate for use throughout the Lenten season. As it stands, the service runs about forty minutes, although it could be lengthened by the addition of extra anthems. We used one reader for the Scripture lessons and different readers for each of the reflections, although it could also be done the other way around. Scripture readings were taken from The Message.
Call to Worship
One of the unique things about this Good Friday service is the interweaving of Psalm 22 throughout the account of the crucifixion. By quoting the first verse of this psalm while he was dying on the cross, Jesus was really pointing to the message of the whole psalm. Notice the movement in the psalm from a cry of despair—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—
to a proclamation of praise—“He has done it!” —JB
This service presents a dramatic reading of Matthew 26 and 27 with an introduction from Matthew 21. A narrator reads all the sections that tie the dialogue together. Songs are used at the end of each logical sequence to bridge to the next section.
Good Friday is a day of confrontation, a day when the forces of hatred and evil tried their best, or rather, their worst, to destroy Jesus. This is no “warm fuzzy” worship service. Instead it dramatically challenges participants to experience the reality of Christ’s crucifixion through all five senses, so the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is not only understood but felt. Here we acknowledge the ugliness of sin and our own participation, through our sins, in Christ’s death. We are there when they crucify our Lord.