Good Friday 101

Good Friday 101


What is Good Friday?

Good Friday is the day that Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus, the Christ. It takes place in the context of Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ life, in which he goes to Jerusalem with his followers and many other Jews who are celebrating the Jewish Passover.

After Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on what we call Maundy Thursday, he is betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas, who leads the authorities to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is praying. Jesus is arrested, questioned by the authorities, and is crucified on a cross in the company of criminals. The story is found in Matt. 26:36 — 27:61, Mk. 14:43 — 15:47, Lk. 22:47 — 23:49, Jn. 18:1 — 19:42.

How do churches observe Good Friday?

Many different denominations hold services on Good Friday. Many churches focus on readings from the Gospels describing the crucifixion, including Jesus’ own words from the cross. Roman Catholic churches often observe the Stations of the Cross. In this service, participants recall Jesus’ path from his sentence of death to his body being laid in the tomb. The object of the service is to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer and meditation through the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life.

Other churches observe Good Friday with a Tenebrae service. Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning “shadows” or “darkness.” A Tenebrae service is conducted in candlelight. As the passion story of Jesus is read, the candles are extinguished, one by one, until there is only darkness.

How can I observe Good Friday?

1. Attend a Good Friday service at your local church or in your community.

2. Read the devotional for today from The Upper Room daily devotional guide.

3. Consider abstaining or fasting from food or drink for six hours, remembering the time that Jesus was on the cross. (You might try from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

4. Pray and contemplate this prayer for Good Friday.

5. Listen to a guided meditation using the Gospel Reading for Good Friday.

6. Read “Who Do You Say that I Am?” This article offers youth a way to journal and reflect on the events of Good Friday.

7. Listen, Reflect: Be Thou My Vision.

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Lent 101 • Holy Week 101 • Palm Sunday 101
Maundy Thursday 101 • Good Friday 101 • Holy Saturday 101 • Easter 101