Good Friday

The Why, How & Who of Good Friday – Meaningful ways to commemorate Good, Holy, Atoning Friday

Why?

Why is it important to commemorate Good Friday?  The answer is simple: We are changed as we pause and reflect on the Savior’s greatest act of love (John 15:13). Jesus himself has asked us to remember His death, view His death (Jacob 1:8) and behold His wounds time after time.  I believe He asks us to do this because He knows remembering his death will help us feel His love. 

For a long time I felt unsure on how to connect with Good Friday due to the intense and contrasting emotions–solemnity with the painful process of crucifixion, profound display of Jesus’ love in giving his life for us, and feeling the victory and “triumph of the cross” in conquering Satan.

How? Items, Timeline & 7 final statements

Like candy canes or paper angels remind us of people of the Christmas story, items like a judge gavel (for Pilate), gold crown (for Herod), crown of thorns (for Jesus), ribbon (for Pilate’s wife), vinegar, large nail, a sword and similar items can remind us of the people and events of Good Friday. Here is a list of Good Friday items (with scriptural references!) These items can engage the interest of younger children, teens and also adults!

Pondering on the timeline of Good Friday is one way to worship. For example: before dawn Peter denying Jesus for the third time before the cock crows, Jesus making eye contact with him, and Peter weeping. In the early morning: Jesus on trial before Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate; Barabbas being let free even though he was guilty; Jesus carrying His cross on the way to Calvary, then Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross. At 9am Jesus nailed to the cross. From 9am-3pm Jesus on the cross and all his acquaintance nearby, specifically the women at the cross; John the beloved. The signs of his death including 3 hours of darkness, an earthquake, the graves open, the temple veil torn in two; the centurion at the foot of the cross who declared, “Surely this is the son of God” and the signs happening in the American continent. The seven final statements of Jesus on the cross are powerful to ponder at this time. These statements are significant and teach the character and role of the Savior. See this page for a lesson plan on them. At 3pm Jesus final words, “Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit;” Joseph of Arimathea begging Pilate for the body of Jesus. Jesus body is removed from the cross; Nicodemus bringing burial clothes and 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes for Jesus; the women who behold the burial place.

Who? The People of Good Friday

TRIAL TO PATH: Before dawn: Annas; Caiaphas; Chief Priests; Early morning: Pilate, Pilates Wife; Herod; Roman Soldiers; Barabbas; Judas (who tries to return the money); Roman soldiers who mock him; Simon of Cyrene; The group of women Jesus speaks to on his way to Calvary

AT THE CROSS: Jesus; Roman soldiers who nail Jesus to the cross and cast lots for his clothing; 2 thieves on the cross who speak to Jesus; the Roman Soldiers who crucify him; Mary the Mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary the mother of James and Joses; Mother of Zebedee’s children; Salome; Joanna; Mary of Clopas; Jesus’ aunt; the beloved disciple, likely John; “Many other women” who followed Jesus from Galilee; All his acquaintance 

AT DEATH AND BURIAL: Soldier who puts spear in Jesus side and out comes water and blood; Centurion at the cross who beholds the events and declares, “Truly this is the Son of God;” Joseph of Arimathea; Nicodemus; The women who behold the burial place.

For scripture references, a reader’s theatre and items to represent these people see this page.

Images can also connect us with the people and events of Good Friday. You can find images in this Ppt presentation link or you can do your own search online for images you like. I suggest keeping your searches specific; for example search: image of Pilate’s wife; or image of Centurion at the foot of the cross.

When?

Just like it would be very limiting for us to fit all of our Christmas devotionals, activities, and celebrations to one day, it is wise to not limit the discussions surrounding Good Friday to just one day. We could choose to discuss people and events of Good Friday during the weeks leading up to Holy Week, during Holy Week itself, and on Good Friday.  Similar to the Christmas season, knowing what we are celebrating and talking about it in anticipation of the actual day can help us be more ready to learn.

Focus on Jesus Christ’s love

Early in my life I associated Jesus’ death with sadness and I didn’t want to linger there. However, I have come to associate the Jesus Christ’s death with his love for me and all mankind, which brings hope. Now I find deep joy and meaning when I pause and sit with the solemnity of Good Friday. The “Good” in Good Friday is derived from the word holy–Holy because it is the day Jesus died for us.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called it “Atoning Friday.”  I call it Good, Holy, Atoning Friday because I connect with all three. 

As we make time for Good Friday we will feel the reality of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. If we are so quick to get to the joyous Risen Lord of Easter Sunday we may miss the significance of the Loving Christ of Good Friday. We can engage with Good Friday in multiple ways: the storyline, the people, the 7 final statements. However we decide to commemorate Good Friday, I hope we slow down and ponder on the goodness, love and power of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and throughout the entire Easter season.

Devotional Lesson Plan & teaching ideas for Good Friday

———–

Below are a few lists: People of Good Friday, Events of Good Friday, link to ideas for young children, food and a Powerpoint link. Scripture references for the events and people can be found on this page.

Elder Stevenson said, “a more Christ-centered Easter…includes a greater and more thoughtful recognition of ….Good Friday as practiced by some of our Christian cousins. We might also adopt appropriate Christ centered Easter traditions found in the cultures and practices of countries worldwide” (The Greatest Easter Story Ever Told, Liahona, May 2023)

FOOD

Special foods on significant days can help make them even more memorable. Hot cross buns are a fun treat. see this post for recipes. Christians in many faith traditions fast on Good Friday. 

ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Eat a meal in darkness (Hales book); Carry a beam (Hales book); Make a crown of thorns with Playdough & toothpicks (Rosbourough book); Handle Objects to tell the story; Make sugar cookies or bread in shape of cross or heart or both; Dress up as people of Good Friday and do a readers theater. See list of people above; Coloring pages of the seven final statements; Coloring page of veil of the temple in purple and red and tear it in half

Here is a Powerpoint presentation I have used to help teach about Good/Holy/Atoning Friday. You are welcome to use it! I hope these resources are helpful to you in understanding and teaching the importance of Good Friday!