The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday and is a somber observance. It is not a day of celebration but a day of mourning, both for the death of Jesus the Nazarene, and for the sins of a world that his death represents.
There are few explanations as to why the holiday is known as "Good" Friday since it commemorates a sorrowful time in Christian history. Some scholars believe that "good" is a corruption of the word "God's" while others speculate that "good" was used to denote "holy." In Eastern Orthodox churches, the observance is known as Great Friday.
According to Christian legend, Jesus, a Nazarene, was considered by many to be the Son of God. Some high officials and Jewish priests felt that he was trying to usurp their authority by misleading the people. They formed a plot against Jesus with the help of one of his apostles, named Judas. Finding him guilty on all counts, they presented Him before the Roman Governor, who saw no reason to condemn him. But the priests were adamant. They insisted that it was his teachings which were responsible for all the riots in the city of Judea and they demanded for his crucifixion.
Good Friday commemorates the arrest (since the Jewish custom of counting days from sundown to sundown it was already Friday), trial, torture, crucifixion, suffering (passion), death and burial of Jesus the Nazarene. Marked with prayers, fasts and penance, Good Friday is a day of contrition, repentance and reflection. There are a variety of customs, practices and services of worship for Good Friday, all aimed at allowing worshippers to experience some sense of the pain and humiliation experienced by Jesus, and ending in the journey to the cross.
Jesus is believed to have died on the cross at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Good Friday. A cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. Jesus is said to have rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter.
The rituals for Good Friday commence on the preceding Thursday. A feast symbolizing the last supper of Jesus is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter. In some churches, mourners wearing black, move in a procession and a ceremonial burial takes place.
Good Friday has been observed since about 100 C. E. Many churches now have mourning services from noon until 3:00 p.m. to symbolize Jesus' last hours on the cross. Some congregations also re-enact Jesus' procession to the cross in a ritual known as Stations of the Cross.
Another common service for Good Friday is Tenebrae (Latin for "shadows" or "darkness") Sometimes this term is applied generally to all church services on the last three days of Holy week. More specifically, however, it is used of the Service of Darkness or Service of Shadows, usually held in the evening of Good Friday. It is usually characterized by a series of Scripture readings and meditation done in stages while lights and/or candles are gradually extinguished to symbolize the growing darkness not only of Jesus’ death but of hopelessness in the world without God. The service ends in darkness, sometimes with a final candle, the Christ candle, carried out of the sanctuary, symbolizing the death of Jesus. Often the service concludes with a loud noise symbolizing the closing of Jesus’ tomb. The worshippers then leave in silence.
Depending on how services are conducted on this day, all pictures, statutes, and the cross are covered in black mourning cloth. Altar candles are black and extinguished. The chancel and altar coverings are also replaced with black. They are left this way through Saturday, but are always replaced with white before sunrise on Sunday.
Good Friday is not a day of celebration but a day of mourning, both for the death of Jesus the Nazarene, and for the sins of the world that his death represents.
From the Gospel of the Holy Twelve; Lection 82
1. THEN released he Barabbas unto them, and when he had scourged Iesus he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Iesus to the common hall and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
2. And they stripped him and put on him a purple robe. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns they put it upon his head and a reed in his right hand, and they bowed the knee before him and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
3. Then came Iesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
4. When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him and crucify him, for I find no fault in him.
5. And they spit upon him, and took the reed and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
6. And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the county, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Iesus. And there followed him a great company of people and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
7. But Jesus, turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days are coming in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
8. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For it they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry.
9. And there were also two other malefactors led with him to be put to death. And when they were come unto a place called Calvary, and Golgotha, that is to say a place of a skull, there they crucified him; and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and other on the left.
10. And it was the third hour when they crucified him, and they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall, and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And Jesus said, Abba Amma, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
11. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his raiment and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his vesture. Now the vesture was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.
12. That the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. And sitting down they watched him there.
13. And a superscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of the Jews.
14. This title then read many of the Jews, for the place where Iesus was crucified was nigh to the city, and it was written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin. then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews, but that, he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written, I have written.
15. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thy self and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss.
16. And he said unto Iesus, Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Iesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.
17. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging heir heads and saying, Thou that wouldst destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross.
18. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, while the scribes and elders said, He saved a lamb, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let Him deliver him now, if He will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God.
19. The usurers and the dealers in beasts and birds also cast the like things into his teeth, saying, Thou who drivest from the temple the traders in oxen and sheep and doves, art thyself but a sheep that is sacrificed.
20. Now from the Sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the Ninth hour, and some standing around, lighted their torches, for the darkness was very great. And about the Sixth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lame sabachthani? that, is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me ?
21. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias; others said, He calleth on the Sun. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
22. Now there stood by the cross of Iesus his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
23. When Iesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! And he said to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home.
24. After this, Iesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I am athirst. And from a vessel they filled a sponge with vinegar and put it upon hyssop and put it to his mouth.
25. And Iesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Abba Amma, into Thy hand I commend my spirit.
26. When Iesus had therefore received the vinegar, he cried aloud, It is finished; and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. And it was the ninth hour.
27. And behold there was great thunder and lightning, and the partition wall of the Holy place, from which hung the veil, fell down, and was rent in twain, and the earth did quake, and the rocks also were rent.
28. Now when the centurion and they that were with him watching Iesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was a Son of God.
29. And many women were there, which followed from Galilee, ministering unto them, and among them were Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children and they lamented, saying, The light of the world is hid from our eyes, the Lord our Love is crucified.
30. Then the Jews, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath, for that was a Paschal Sabbath, besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
31. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the two who were crucified with him. 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 heart and forthwith came there out blood and water.
32. And he that saw it bare record and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done that the Scriptures might be fulfilled—A bone of him shall not be broken, and again—In the midst of the week the Messiah shall be cut off.
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