Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the Friday before Easter known as “Good Friday,” this day of observance came into being during the early Christian era. According to the Bible, Jesus was crucified to death on this day in the most brutal way. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). On this day, the royal soldiers, led by Judas Iscariot, arrested the son of God to be interrogated by the high priest, Caiaphas. Judas Iscariot was previously a devotee of Jesus but betrayed him after being bribed. Following the interrogation, the high priest condemned Jesus for blasphemy and ordered for the sentence of death. The Bible says that he was beaten, tortured, and made to carry his own cross before being crucified on it. Good Friday also marks the end of over a month of fasting called Lent. It is a period during which Christians fast, pray and give alms. It is the most solemn day in the Christian calendar. The dates of Good Friday vary each year. It falls on the last Friday before Easter. It is the pinnacle of the Holy Week. All Christians observe this day with great humility and reverence. It is this spirit of humility and reverence that is reflected, which can be used as a preaching aid on Good Friday.
History of Good Friday
As early as the first century, the Church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the fourth century, however, that the Church began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name “Good Friday” was adopted by the Roman Church around the sixth or seventh century.
Good Friday rituals and traditions are distinct from every other Church observance. They add to Good Friday’s significance. The ceremony is sombre, with priests and deacons dressing in black vestments. The pulpit and the altar are bare; no candles are lit. The purpose behind the solemn presentation is to create an awareness of grief over the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son. Today, many churches hold special services on Good Friday evening to commemorate this important day.
At the morning ceremony, the priest or church official recites lessons from the scriptures. Afterward, there is a succession of prayers asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness on all mankind. At the noon hour comes the Adoration of the Cross, where a representation of the True Cross is unveiled, and the clergy and laity pay homage to the sacrifice of Christ. In the Jerusalem Church, a remnant of the True Cross itself is presented for the ceremony.
Next comes the Mass of the Pre-sanctified, in which the priest or church official takes Communion from the host that was blessed during the Maundy Thursday ceremony. The ceremony concludes around 3 p.m. with a procession, which is followed by evening prayers. In many Protestant churches, Good Friday observances begin at noon and last until 3 p.m. This coincides with the hours that Jesus hung on the cross. These services often include sermons on the last seven phrases that Jesus spoke while being crucified. To many Christians, Good Friday is a day of sorrow mingled with joy. It is a time to grieve over the sin of man and to meditate and rejoice upon God’s love in giving His only Son for the redemption of sin.
How Good Friday is celebrated in India
Many Christians in India attend special church services or pray on Good Friday. Some people also fast or abstain from meat on this day. Many Christians hold parades or open air plays to portray the last days and hours of Jesus’ life in some areas of India. National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on Good Friday.
Interesting Facts about Good Friday
1. In India Good Friday is a public holiday. Good Friday is not an official holiday in the US or around the world. Some schools and banks remain shut on this day, but it’s not an official holiday.
2. Good Friday falls between March 20 and April 23.
3. Hot cross buns are considered being packed with good luck. It is believed that buns baked on Good Friday never get spoiled and can protect your home from fire.
4. In Ireland, it is believed that eggs laid on this day never get rotten. The Irish also have a tradition of marking eggs with a holy cross and having each family member eat one on Easter Sunday. By doing so, they believe, they will have good health and luck in the following year.
5. Good Friday is known by different names across the world. Some names include Easter Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, and Silent Friday.
6.The Thursday before Good Friday is known as Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday and the following Saturday (before Easter Sunday) is known as Holy Saturday.
7. In Germany, dancing is prohibited on this sacred holiday.
8. In many churches across the world, bells are tolled 33 times in succession to mark Christ’s years on Earth and to commemorate his death.