Good Friday, April 7, 2023

April 3, 2023 | by Allan R. Bevere

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Psalm 22 Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 John 18:1-19:42


In the name of Christ we gather on this day of Good Friday to remember anew the struggle of the cross and the final victory.

With you, Lord, we wish to remain.

Let us walk together to the cross, see our Lord’s suffering, hear his voice pleading for drink, and asking for pardon for those who tortured him mercilessly.

O, how to hold back the tears in the midst of so much pain? And even then, you taught us how to love.

When the day darkened and it seemed to envelop the whole earth, we thought all was lost.

But amid the darkness, we saw your light.

It was there when the sun darkened and the temple veil tore in half that we heard your voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Then there was peace.

In the midst of life’s darkness, peace also comes when, with complete confidence, we offer ourselves to you, beloved Lord.

Because in that hour of darkness and pain your light shone brightly when the centurion exclaimed, “Truly this man is the Son of God.”

With you, Lord, we wish to remain.


“By his bruises we are healed.” “By his wounds we are healed.” The King James translation many of us grew up with states “by his stripes we are healed”—by the lashes of the whip. How is one healed by bruises? How does healing happen with wounds?

“By his bruises we are healed.” That comes from the prophet Isaiah in one of four poems called the Servant Songs or Poems about a coming servant who will offer salvation and reconciliation. Isaiah says the wounds of the servant will restore God’s people. But bruises aren’t healing. One heals bruises. Human beings don’t go into medicine to become doctors or nurses to inflict wounds. They want to bind wounds. They want to treat wounds. They want to do their best to heal wounds. Yet, this servant that Isaiah speaks of and who Christians have come to believe and know as Jesus is the one who heals by his suffering. By this act of hanging on the cross in this terrible death, in some way by his wounds and bruises and by the blood that drips down from his body onto the ground below, that in some way by his death we are healed.

It’s interesting that historically we know very little about crucifixion. We think the Romans picked it up from the Phoenicians—a terrible, cruel, and torturous death the Phoenicians invented; but it seems that the Romans perfected it. Crucifixion was such an atrocious way to die—long, slow, and torturous—that not even the Romans would talk about it. We have very little from Roman sources about crucifixion. It was such a heinous form of capital punishment that according to Roman law, citizens of the empire, if they were sentenced to be executed were not crucified. That was reserved for non-citizens. The humane form of execution for citizens, at least according to the Romans was beheading. Crucifixion was reserved for all of those under Rome’s thumb. We know the Romans crucified, but they said very little about those crucified. Perhaps the Romans were hoping that when the history of the empire was written, crucifixion would not be mentioned.

It is interesting that the four gospels are the largest and most central sources we have for the details of crucifixion. They tell us more about crucifixion than we get from anywhere else; and even then they don’t even go into great detail. The Evangelists mention that Jesus is flogged and beaten. They reveal that Jesus carried his cross, that is the crossbeam. They talk about him being nailed and then brought down. Yes, what we learn about crucifixion, what we know comes mostly from the gospels and yet the Romans crucified thousands, but we know nothing about the others. We have some historical sources, some mention of a few revolutionaries a hundred years either side of Jesus that led revolts. When they failed, the cross was their end.

Why is this particular death on the cross we remember today so significant? Why is it so important to tell this story of this crucified man when so many other individuals—perhaps guilty of their crimes and perhaps some of them just being in the wrong place at the wrong time—were crucified and we know nothing of them? Why has this one crucifixion echoed down through history? Well, the short answer is Easter Sunday but we’re not there yet. There was something about this death in and of itself that was different. It was this death that offered salvation and reconciliation to the world. In all of its mystery, Jesus Christ takes upon himself the mammoth weight of the world’s sin and everything that we do to one another and that we do to God in our unfaithfulness, greed, violence, and selfishness. In the cross of Christ, Jesus absorbs the world’s sin. By his wounds we are healed.

In this death, Jesus sets an example for how to deal with the brokenness of the world once and for all. Jesus does not respond in like kind because that just makes more brokenness. On the cross there is no violence for violence, greed for greed, revenge for revenge because that just compounds what is not right with us and the world. If we really want to heal, if we really want to offer reconciliation once and for all, Jesus says to us from the cross, “here’s what you do,” and he lets the world do its worst to him and he just absorbs it. In so doing, it is by his bruises we can be healed, we can be reconciled to God. It is in the cross that his followers witness the path toward which they must walk.

In Jesus Christ, God comes to reconcile to us, to offer us an olive branch of peace; but we don’t want it because control over our own life is always preferred. We want to live our lives our way, and we want to do things our way. That’s the human story. We witness it time and time again throughout the Bible, throughout history, and in our current situation.

On Good Friday, when we hung Jesus up on the cross, it was our ultimate “NO” to God. “No! We don’t want you in our lives! We don’t want you telling us what to do! We’ll do it our way!” But then comes Easter Sunday (we’re not there yet) when in the resurrection of Jesus, God says “NO!” to our “NO.” God says, “Nope I’m not going to let you ruin yourself. I’m not going to let you to continue to break this world that I love. I’m not going to let you hurt yourself and others. I love all of you too much.” In saying no to our no God says yes to us, but we’re not there yet. What we need to do on this Good Friday is to once again sit and listen to this story, this one crucifixion story that’s been told for two thousand years.

C.S. Lewis recounts an incident at a good Friday service. In the front pew, there was a mother and her little girl around five years old. They’re sitting listening as the crucifixion story is being read. As young girl listens, she gets captivated by the drama and tears start to well up in her eyes. All of a sudden, she breaks the darkness and the silence of that place. She turns to her mother and screams out, “mommy why are they doing that to him?”

Perhaps on this Good Friday, we might reflect on this one crucifixion story as hearing it for the first time through the ears of a child.


Merciful God, we gather to recount and recall the injustice, pain, and suffering your Son endured on the cross at the hands of sinful humanity. Grant us awareness as we enter the story of Christ’s Passion, that in not shirking away from Christ’s suffering, we would be surprised by grace, because even in humiliating and shameful death, your love never failed. Train our hearts on the Light that is the life of all people, that as the darkness encroaches, we might remain tenacious in hope and persistent in love. Amen.

[i] Written by Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz, translated by Raquel Mora Martínez in Fiesta Jubilosa (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2022), 122.

[ii] Written by Dr. Lisa Hancock, Discipleship Ministries, September 2022.

Allan R. Bevere is a Professional Fellow in Theology. He recently retired from full-time pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church where he served for thirty-eight years. He is the owner of the social media portal, Faith Seeking Understanding ( with links to his YouTube Channel, podcast, blog, and daily reflections. He is the author of the forthcoming booklet, Holiness of Heart and Life: Loving God and Neighbor, and has published several other books including: The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the WorldColossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, and Who Is Jesus? The Puzzle and the Portraits of a Divine Savior.

Dr. Bevere received his Ph.D in Theology from the University of Durham U.K., a Th.M in Theological Ethics from Duke Divinity School, an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry and an M.A. in Religious Studies from Ashland Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Christian Ministries from Malone University.

Dr. Bevere has served the larger church in various capacities over the years including mission, education, and leadership. He brings his passion for teaching to pastors in Cuba at the Methodist Seminary in Havana, Zimbabwe at Africa University, and Cameroon at the local Methodist churches. He has also engaged in mission work in Haiti and Puerto Rico.

Dr. Bevere is married to Carol. They have four adult children and four granddaughters. His hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, and hiking.