Friday, April 14, 2017

Practical Suggestions for Commemorating Good Friday

Jesus probably didn't sleep at all the night before Good Friday.

He went anguished and betrayed and whipped and mocked and exhausted into the most momentous day of human history. The day that only a God-Man could have accomplished. The day where the hands of the God-Father pressed the weight of history's sin--my sin--onto the shoulders of the God-Son.

If I were going into a day like that, I would have been like the disciples, sleeping all I could to get ready for it. I would have been so wrong.

Jesus prayed before his anguish. Praying in distress of soul, that he would be ready for the will of God.

Psalm 31:7 says, "you have known the distress of my soul". (ESV) I wonder what it was like, for the Father to know the distress of the Son who had done no wrong, and yet was to become an object of cursing and scorn in just a few hours. It's staggering, the distress that the Trinity must have been in that day. The three-fold relationship, in existence an eternity before the world began, was broken.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

There is no earthly betrayal, no lost friend, no estranged parent or wayward child, that can equal the anguish of that separation. The awe of it weighs upon us. It is so terribly beyond our comprehension, unbearable to contemplate for long--but God, who is without limits, would have comprehended all of it.

It's easy to lose sight of Good Friday. This is the Friday that changed the whole scope of mankind, and yet it's so easy to forget it in anxiety and anger, that leftover fight, those school assignments clamoring to be done, the late shift at work tonight, the baby who won't stop crying.

I'm writing a chapter I've been wrestling with. And oh, yes, I could easily lose sight of Good Friday for the sake of wrestling that chapter into submission to meet my own deadline.

Sometimes I start a day like this with the best of intentions, only to lose sight of remembering as the day goes on. Then I remember a day like this doesn't need--especially doesn't need my works to complete it. It is just as complete without anything that any man can add to it. But Christ does call us to remember. I don't think this is the kind of sacrifice that it's OK to pass lightly over year after year after year.

Commemorating Good Friday is what we need. The unforgivable and unforgiving, the scared, the lost, the indifferent and the joyful--they all find their center at the cross. The Jew and the Gentile, the man and the woman, the parent and child, husband and wife, friend and friend, pastor and congregation, God and man--they all find their center, their reconciliation--at the cross.

We gain perspective of the sins we are not repentant of, and the sins we fear God cannot forgive, when we realize the enormity of what those sins did to God's Son, and the enormity of mercy that flowed down that day.

God so loved the world

that he gave



Maybe, like me, you have things that can't be laid aside today. Maybe you have a job you can't just call off, or a child to take care of, or another obligation. That's OK. I'm going to try to commemorate this way, and I hope it will encourage you to do so as well.

1. Read Scripture
Pick a couple of times throughout the day--the mid-morning break, the lunch break, the dinner break--the first bit of time after you get home from work, the last bit of time before you go to sleep--and read a passage of Scripture. Read it slowly. Slower. Slower than that. Linger and savor over the words. Read phrases over again. Think about how they mean something--what Jesus experienced, and how his sacrifice has changed your life right now.

Here are some passages to consider reading:
John 19:16-30
Isaiah 53
Psalm 22
Luke 23:26-46
Mark 15:20-39
Matthew 27:31-54

2. Listen to Songs of Remembrance 
Songs are even easier--on the work commute, while exercising, while making supper or cleaning the house--to turn our thoughts to Jesus and contemplate his sacrifice for us. Here are some I'm going to be using:

In Christ Alone
How Deep the Father's Love for Us
And Can it Be?
What Wondrous Love is This
O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go
Jesus, Thank You (Sovereign Grace Music)
He Will Hold Me Fast

I hope these are inspiring or possibly helpful as we remember the wondrous, world-altering sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If you have songs and Scripture passages to add in the comments, I would love to hear them.


  1. Thanks so much, Schuyler. Needed this reminder during a busy work day.

  2. You are so welcome. I'm so glad it could be a reminder for you. <3

  3. Thank you for this Schuyler! Our church always has a Good Friday service which is always a vivid reminder. Some songs I'd recommend:

    Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted
    Gethsemane by Reese Oliveira
    Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

  4. Throned Upon the Awful Tree (with a good Welsh tune)
    I'll second Hannah and say Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.
    Can I say the entire Matthaus-Passion by Bach? Is that cheating?
    The chorus "Since by man came death" from Handel's Messiah is one we're practicing for Sunday, and really good (deceptively simple, too).

    We have a Good Friday service this evening, but I had to come to school for an exam today. If it weren't for that I'd have skipped my one class.

    I go to a secular college, and don't get a break for Easter, and I've been wandering through school today with some of the sorrow of the day weighing on me, and next to nobody else seems to think this is any different from the normal Friday.

    Isn't it a wonder how much music can move us?

  5. Thanks so much for the list of verses and songs. I especially like the hymn "My God, My God Oh Why Have You Forsaken Me?" based off Psalm 22 and sung to the tune of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."
    Here's a link to the tune:
    And here's the lyrics:


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