Good Friday: The greatest Sacrifice

The crucifixion was not the end for the Messiah but the beginning of his era

Good Friday is the day that marks the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene (also titled as Christ), after he was sentenced to death for claiming to be the Son of GOD. Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday, one of the most important festivals celebrated by Christians all over the world. Since the date of Easter is different between western and eastern Churches, also the date of Good Friday does not correspond (being both moveable holidays).

Members of many Christian denominations, including the Anglican, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox, and Reformed traditions, observe Good Friday with fasting and church services.

The date of Good Friday varies from one year to the next on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Eastern and Western Christianity disagree over the computation of the date of Easter and therefore of Good Friday. Good Friday is a widely instituted legal holiday around the world, and in some countries, (such as Germany) laws prohibiting certain acts, such as dancing and horse racing, that are seen as profaning the solemn nature of the day.

Biblical description

According to the accounts in the Gospels, the royal soldiers arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. 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 (John 18, 19–24).
Afterwards Pilate declared Jesus not guilty and washed his own hands in water to show he had no part in this condemnation and handed Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27, 24–26). The sentence was written on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (I.N.R.I.). Jesus carried his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the “place of the Skull”, or “Golgotha” in Hebrew (in Latin “Calvary”). There he was crucified along with two criminals (John 19, 17–22).

Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours, then, with a loud cry, gave up his Spirit. There was an earthquake, tombs broke open, and the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declared, “Truly this was GOD’s Son!” (Matthew 27, 45–54).
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus (Luke 23, 50–52). Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred-pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the body of Jesus (John 19, 39–40). Pilate asked confirmation from the centurion of whether Jesus was dead (Mark 15, 44), therefore a soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19, 34), and the centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead (Mark 15, 45).
Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27, 59–60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion.
Nicodemus and Joseph rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27, 60) and returned home to rest, since the Shabbat had begun at sunset (Luke 23, 54–56).

The importance of the Sacrifice explained by Saint Paul

Jesus was condemned to death for having divulged knowledge to the people, he affirmed that he was the Son of GOD only as a result of the completed works and in reference to the Scriptures (Psalm 82, 6), as reported by the Gospels (John 10, 34- 38). He never declared himself as GOD, or equal to the CREATOR, but as His son (the one who does His will) and the evidence is in the prayer he taught the disciples (Holy FATHER), calling GOD the FATHER of all (Our) and not exclusively his.

The Rabbi (so Jesus was called 12 times in the Gospels [note a]) enters in Jerusalem willing to fight and die for the Truth and for the New Covenant. To fully understand what happened and how this sacrifice changed the world, is just necessary to read carefully what the Apostle of the masses, Paul of Tarsus, explains to us in the Epistle to the Hebrews:

Then indeed, even the first Covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly Sanctuary.
For a Tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the Sanctuary;
and behind the second veil, the part of the Tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,
which had the golden censer and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the Tablets of the Covenant;
and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the Tabernacle, performing the services.
But into the second part the high Priest went alone once a year[b], not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first Tabernacle was still standing.
It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience
10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to GOD, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living GOD?
15 And for this reason he is the mediator of the New Covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
18 Therefore not even the first Covenant was dedicated without blood.
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which GOD has commanded you.”
21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the Tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.
22 And according to the Law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of GOD for us;
25 not that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another,
26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
(Letters to Hebrews Chapters 9)

 


Note

[a] Vedi Mt 26, 25 ; 26, 49 ; Mc 9, 5 ; 11, 21 ; 14, 45 ; Gv 1, 38 ; 1, 49 ; 3, 2 ; 4, 31 ; 6, 25 ; 9, 2 ; 11, 8

[b] Only during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement


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