Good Friday 2021
Why is Good Friday good when an innocent man was crucified? Roxanne Then looks back at our Good Friday service on why Good Friday is truly good news.
Good Friday has always been an important date in the Christian calendar, and this year was not any different. Yet, in the midst of this pandemic, the way we gathered to remember this day looked different from previous years. As people gathered in GBC for the Good Friday service, some aisles remained empty due to the safe distancing measures. Regardless, members of GBC gathered—both online and offline, along with Christians all over the world, to remember the significance of Jesus' death on the cross.
Pastor Ian started the service with a simple but poignant reflection question—For what in me, did the innocent Lamb of God give His life? What is there in me that has required the innocent lamb of God?
Our call to worship from Leviticus 16:15-16 is a reminder that sinners could not approach God nor dwell in His presence. God’s people could only approach God via the priest who made an atonement for their sins. Good Friday shows us that instead of the blood of bulls and goats and repeated sacrifices for sins, in an act of true mercy, God would provide His innocent Son, who would willingly bear our sins and transgression, as an atonement for His people.
With stringed instruments, the worship team led the congregation in a time of contemplative worship. The lyrics of the hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” paints for us a vivid picture of the pain and sorrow, not just physical but also spiritual and emotional, that our Saviour bore on the cross.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.
Our worship team led the congregation to remember what Jesus bore for us and in surveying the wondrous cross, to also recognise the richness of His love and mercy. This rich love and grace shown to us demands our response and worship.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Members of GBC—Rachel Gibson Wong, together with Zachary Low, brought the church through Isaiah 53:3-9 and 1 Peter 2:22-25, calling us to consider Jesus' innocence, and His act of mercy.
Our virtual choir also presented their rendition of “Hallelujah, What a Savior”, which helped prepare the hearts of the congregation to receive God's Word.
GBC youths Rebecca Soh and Andrea Mok read from Luke 23:26-56.
Elder Caleb preached on the innocence of Jesus from Luke 23:26-56, in a sermon titled "Certainly, This Man Was Innocent". The main point of this sermon was that Christians do not just remember the death of Jesus Christ, but also the murder, and execution of the innocent Jesus Christ. The cross is the climax of Luke’s gospel, and even in this narrative, different witnesses saw the innocence of the crucified Jesus.
As we traced Jesus’ steps to the cross, we read of Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry His cross (Lk 24:26-27). Jesus was too weak to carry the cross, but He carried the burdens of Jerusalem in His heart as He made His way to be crucified. Simon’s family became a part of Jesus' followers (Rom 16:13), and they, like us, see that we follow a Saviour who bore the weight of our sins and calls us to Him.
As Jesus was crucified and hung on the cross, it was a scene of pain, mixed with the presence of blood and sweat (Lk 23:32-34), yet Jesus continued to pray and ask for forgiveness for the people. One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus saw the unjust nature of His crucifixion and displayed a fear of God, an admission of His own guilt and saw Jesus’ innocence (Lk 23:40). To this man, Jesus promises His own presence and fellowship.
And as Jesus breathed His last breath, Luke records for us how the sun’s light failed and the temple’s curtains being torn in two (LK 24:44-45). Those present also heard Jesus’ last words and the centurion present who witnessed everything was cut to the heart and saw the innocence of Jesus (Lk 24:46-47). In the aftermath of the crucifixion too, the crowds went home, beating their breasts and also grappled with his death (Lk 24:48-49).
As we read this account, Luke wants us to see how awful it is that this innocent man was crucified. But unlike the innocent Abel, whose blood calls out for vengeance, the blood of Christ cries out for mercy and atonement. Do we like them, beat our breasts at the death, murder and execution of this innocent man? Let us mourn, and grieve that our sins cause the death of the son of God, an innocent man. Let us question once again: For what in me, did the innocent Lamb of God give His life?
The good news of Good Friday is truly good news, only when we recognise our guilt and His innocence. Truly, in our place condemned He stood, that we can now, by faith be saved. This is the message of Good Friday that we never tire of, and may we continue to humble our hearts, hold on to this truth until we see this innocent Saviour face to face.
You can watch the full service here: