Holy and Great Friday

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Al Green

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Apr 8, 2004, 10:56:25 PM4/8/04
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Holy and Great Friday

From the newsletter of the Jerusalem Patriarchate

On this day, Holy and Great Friday, we celebrate the awesome, holy, and
saving Passion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ - the spitting,
the blows with the palm of the hand, the buffeting, the mockery, the
reviling, the wearing of the purple robe, the reed, the sponge, the vinegar,
the nailing, the lance, and above all, the Crucifixion and Death which He
condescended to endure willingly for our sakes - and also the saving
confession of the grateful thief upon the cross.

After our Lord Jesus Christ was sold for thirty pieces of silver and was
betrayed by a friend and disciple, He was led to Annas the High Priest.
Annas again sent the Lord to Caiaphas, where He was spat upon and at the
same time mocked and laughed at. He heard them saying to Him, "Prophesy to
us, Christ! Who is the one that struck you?" (Matt. 26:68). Then many false
witnesses and accusers arrived, perhaps because He said, "Destroy this
temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19) and because He
said about Himself, "I am the Son of God" (Matt. 27:43), or because He said,
"Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting
at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt.
26:64). At that point, the High Priest tore his own garment, saying, "He has
spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you
have heard His blasphemy!" (Matt. 26:65). And when morning came, Jesus was
led into the Prętorium to Pilate, and "they did not enter," as they said,
"lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover" (John
18:28).

Then when Pilate came, he asked them about Jesus, saying, "What accusation
do you bring against this Man?" (John 18:29). Since he did not find any
reasonable cause for the accusation, he sent Him to Caiaphas, sinc= e he was
the one who was seeking His execution, and Caiaphas sent Him back again to
Pilate. Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according your
Law." Therefore the Jewish leaders said to him, "It is not l= awful for us
to put anyone to death" (John 18:31). They said this so Pilate would
pronounce the judgment of death on the cross. Pilate asked Jesus whether He
was the King of the Jews, and Jesus acknowledged this and said that His
Kingdom is eternal and not of this world (John 18:36). Pilate wished to
release Jesus and first told the crowd that he did not find any serious
accusation against Him. Then he reminded the Jews of their custom of
releasing a prisoner of their choice on the feast of Passover. The crowd
named Barabbas the robber as acceptable choice but not Christ. Pilate then
sought to placate the crowd, but with no success. Leading Him out through
the soldiers, he first had Jesus scourged. Then clothing Him with a purple
cloak, the soldiers forced a crown of thorns upon His most pure head and
placed a reed in His right hand as though it were a royal scepter. All this
time, the soldiers were mockingly sneering and shouting a parody of their
salute to Caesar, "Hail, King of the Jews" (Matt. 27:29; Mark 15:18; John
19:3). Clearly, this public humiliation and torment was for the
gratification of the mob, for Pilate showed that he was acting against his
conscience by saying again, "I find no fault in this Man" (John 18:38; John
19:6; Luke 23:4). The Jewish leaders answered him, "We have a law, and
according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of
God" (John 19:7).

While these things were being said, Jesus was silent. But the crowd cried
out to Pilate, "Crucify Him, crucify Him" (John 19:6). Thus they wished to
destroy Him through an inglorious and shameful death, so that they might
destroy the noble fame that Jesus possessed. Pilate incited their ethnic
pride and said, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We
have no king but Caesar!" (John 19:15). Since they could not get their way
by any other means, they uttered this blasphemy because Jesus clearly called
Himself the Son of God, and they wanted Caesar to stand in His place so that
their madness would be satisfied. Therefore they said, "Whoever makes
himself a king speaks against Caesar" (John 19:12).

While these events were taking place, Pilate's wife - Procula Claudia (comm.
Oct. 27), sent a message to him that she was troubled by a fearful dream,
and she said, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered
many things today in a dream because of Him" (Matt. 27:19). Then Pilate
washed his hands and clearly rejected the responsibility for the blood of
the Righteous One. But the people cried out, "His blood be upon us and upon
our children" (Matt. 27:25). If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's
friend" (John 19:12). Even though Pilate surely knew that Jesus was not
guilty, he feared Caesar and thus confirmed the Lord's condemnation to death
on the Cross, and he released Barabbas. When Judas beheld this, he threw
away the silver coins and went out and hanged himself from a tree.

The soldiers mocked Jesus, hitting His head with a reed, and they placed the
Cross on Him to bear. Then they coerced Simon of Cyrene, obliging him to
carry the Cross. About the third hour, they reached the Place of the Skull,
and they crucified Him there. On the right and on the left they suspended
two thieves so that Jesus would appear to be an evildoer. In a spirit of
greed, the soldiers divided His garments, but they cast lots for His
seamless tunic. They performed each deed with excessive animosity, as if
they were drunk. They not only did these things, but they also feigned
ignorance, saying ironically to Jesus on the Cross, "Aha! You who destroy
the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the
Cross!" (Mark 15:29-30). And they continued, "Let the Christ, the King of
Israel, descend now from the Cross, that we may see and believe" (Mark
15:32). However, if they had reflected and understood correctly, they would
have wished to have recourse to Him without hesitation, because He proved
Himself to be not only King of Israel, but even of all the world.

For what other meaning was there when the sun was darken during the
Crucifixion of Christ at the third hour, in the middle of the day, but that
the Lord's Passion would be revealed to all men? Likewise, when the earth
shook and the rocks were rent asunder, did this not reprove the
stony-heartedness of the chief priests? And when many bodies arose for the
acknowledgment of the common resurrection, did it not provide the evidence
that the power of the Suffering One might appear? Moreover, when the curtain
of the temple was split in twain, did it not mean that the temple was
certainly angered, because the One who was glorified in it was suffering,
thereby revealing these things which were not apparent to the multitudes?
Therefore, at the third hour, Christ was crucified, as says the divine Mark;
from the sixth hour until the ninth there was darkness over the whole land
(Mark 15:33). The Centurion Longinus (comm. Oct. 16), seeing these marvelous
events and especially the darkening of the sun, cried out with a mighty
voice, "Truly this Man was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39). Of the
two thieves, one reviled Jesus, but the other reproached him, most
profoundly reproving him, and confessed Christ to be the Son of God. Because
of his confession, the Savior rewarded his faith and promised that he would
be with Him in Paradise that very day. The "good thief" is commemorated on
October 12.

When every sort of abuse had been hurled at the Lord Jesus, Pilate wrote out
His title, which read, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS", and placed
it on the Cross. (See John 19:19.) Therefore, the chief priests = said to
Pilate, "Do not write, The King of the Jews, but He said, 'I am the King of
the Jews'." Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written" (John
19:21-22). And when the Savior said, "I thirst" (John 19:28), they put
vinegar on hyssop and brought it to Him. After saying, "It is finished"
(John 19:30), He inclined His head and gave up the spirit. He was crucified
on the day when the moon was full and at the hour when, according to the old
Law, the Passover lamb was to be slain (See Exod. 12). When all had fled
away, His Mother alone kept vigil at the Holy Cross with her sister Mary,
the wife of Cleopas (the one, some say, Joachim begot in accordance with the
Mosaic Law since his brother Cleopas died childless, but this assertion is
false), Mary Magdalene, and John, the Disciple beloved by Him. (See John
19:25.) Then the ungrateful people, not being able to tolerate seeing the
bodies on the crosses, since it was the great day of the Passover, asked
Pilate that the legs of the condemned might be broken so that death might
come more quickly. They broke the legs of the thieves, since they were still
alive and, coming upon Jesus, as soon as they saw that He was already dead,
they refrained from breaking His legs. One of the soldiers, doing a favor
for the ungrateful ones, took his spear and pierced the right side of
Christ, and immediately there flowed forth blood and water. On the one hand,
the outpouring was as from a man, and on the other hand on behalf of
mankind; that is, the blood, for the sake of the Holy Communion of the
divine sanctified elements, and the water, for the sake of Holy Baptism. In
fact, this two-fold fountain constitutes the foundation of the Holy
Mysteries for us.

Also, St. John the Theologian saw and bore witness to these events, and his
witness is true, because he was present at all these happenings, and after
he saw them he recorded them. For if they were false, clearly he would not
have written them, for such things would have appeared as a dishonor to the
Teacher. It is said that when he was present at that time, he collected in
some kind of vessel the Divine and All-holy Blood from the Life-giving side.
Moreover, while these extraordinary events were being accomplished, when
night approached, Joseph of Arimathea arrived (he was a disciple from the
beginning, as the others, but secretly). He then went to Pilate with
boldness since he was clearly known by him, asked for the Body of Jesus, and
was given permission to take It. Then he immediately took the divine Body
down from the Holy Cross with all reverence.

And when night came, Nicodemus arrived, bearing a certain mixture of myrrh
and aloes, which had been prepared for the special purpose of anointing, and
he wrapped the Holy Body in a winding cloth, as was the regular custom of
the Jews. They then entombed the Body of the Lord nearby in the garden tomb
of Joseph of Arimathea, which had been cut into a rock, rolling a great
stone over the entrance. In this tomb, no one had been buried before, so
that when Christ arose the chief priests might not attribute the
Resurrection to another person. The mixture of aloes and myrrh strongly
cemented the winding cloth to the Body of Christ, so that when the winding
cloth and the face cloth would be seen folded up in the Tomb, no one would
suppose that His Body had been stolen away. How would it have been possible
that anyone could have detached the linen so firmly glued to the flesh?
However, those foolish men who shaped this falsehood did not know that in
accordance with the economy of God, all these proofs remained insid= e the
Tomb for the censuring of their slander. All these events marvelously
happened on Friday. Accordingly, the God-bearing Fathers decreed that we
should commemorate all these events with a compunctious and contrite heart.
Furthermore, the Church, as received from the time of the Holy Apostles, has
given the commandment that every Friday is to be observed as a fast day in
remembrance of Christ's Holy Passion and Life-giving Death.

It is fitting to understand that on the sixth day of the week, Friday, the
Lord was crucified because on the sixth day of the week during Creation,
Adam, the first man, was formed. Furthermore, at the sixth hour of the day,
He was suspended on the Holy Cross because at the sixth hour, tradition
tells us, Adam stretched out his hands toward the forbidden tree to eat the
fruit and inherited death. Therefore it was fitting that at the same
shattering hour the Old Adam would be created anew. The Lord's Crucifixion
was in a garden because Adam was deceived in a garden in Paradise. The
bitter drink which the Lord tasted on the Cross healed the tasting of Adam.
The Holy Cross replaced the tree in Paradise. The slap on the Face signified
our awakening from the stupor of sin. The spitting and the dishonorable
behavior toward the Lord makes manifest the value He places on us. The crown
of thorns relieved us from the curse surrounding the head = of Adam and Eve.
The purple cloak replaced the garment of skin and symbolized the royal
garment with which He covers us. The nails indicated our total immobility in
our sins. The pierced Side of the Lord, from which our salvation came forth,
represented the side of Adam, from which Eve came forth and out of whom the
transgression occurred. The spear removed the fiery sword which guarded
Paradise after the disobedience. The water from the Side was an image of
Holy Baptism. The blood and the reed were the means through which the
Savior, as though writing in imperial red ink, decreed, as a King from on
high, the restoration of the ancient homeland.

It is said that the skull of Adam lay where Christ, as the Head of all, was
Crucified, and Adam was "baptized" through the Blood of Christ, which flowed
from Him and down onto Adam's skull. It is called the Place of the Skull
because during the Flood the earth expelled the skull of Adam, which rolled
around by itself in a circle, and this was viewed as a fearsome sign. The
Holy Prophet and King Solomon, out of respect toward the Forefather, covered
it up with many stones. Moreover, the eminent saints say, as is the
tradition, that Adam was buried there by an angel. Therefore, where Adam's
corpse lay, there Christ stood as the everlasting King, the New Adam,
healing by the wood of the Holy Cross the Old Adam who had fallen by the
wood of the tree.

It should be noted that on this day there is no celebration of the Divine
Liturgy, nor of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. On this day of the
Holy Crucifixion we neither eat nor drink anything according to the words
which the Lord spoke to the Pharisees: "But the days will come when the
Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast" (Matt.
9:15). Yet, if anyone is weak or old and cannot keep the fast, let him be
given bread and water after sunset.

Wherefore, O Christ our God, through Your boundless compassion for our
sakes, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Troparion, Tone 8

When the glorious disciples at the supper were illumined by the washing of
the feet, then was the impious Judas darkened by the disease of avarice. And
he betrays Thee, the Righteous Judge, to the lawless judges. See, O lover of
possessions, how for money's sake he hanged himself! Flee from that
insatiate soul, which dared such things against His Master. O Lord, who art
good towards all men, glory to Thee!


Antiphon Six, Tone 7

Coming to Thy voluntary Passion, O Lord, Thou didst cry out to Thy
disciples, "If ye were not able to watch one hour with Me, how could ye
promise to die for My sake? Behold how Judas does not sleep, But hastens to
betray Me to lawless men. Arise and pray that no one deny Me when he sees Me
on the Cross." O longsuffering Lord, glory to Thee!

Antiphon Fifteen, Tone 6

He who hung the earth upon the waters hangs today upon the Cross. He who is
King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heavens
in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in the Jordan set Adam
free receives blows upon His face. The Bridegroom of the Church is
transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We
worship Thy Passion, O Christ. We worship Thy Passion, O Christ. We worship
Thy Passion, O Christ. Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection.


Kontakion, Tone 8

Come, let us all praise Him who was crucified for us, for when Mary beheld
Him on the Cross, she cried, "Though Thou sufferest on the Cross Thou art my
Son and my God!"


Ikos: Seeing her own Lamb led to slaughter, Mary let down her hair in grief=

and followed Him with the other women, crying thus: "Where goest Thou, my
Child? Why dost Thou run so swiftly? Perhaps there is another wedding in
Cana of Galilee, and Thou dost make haste now to go there and change their
water into wine? Shall I go with Thee, O my Child, or shall I wait for Thee?
Grant me some word, O Word, and pass me not by in silence, O Thou who hast
preserved me in virginity. For Thou art my Son and my God.


The Exapostilarion (The Hymn of Light)

The wise thief at that same hour, O Lord, Thou didst deem worthy of
Paradise. Enlighten me as well by Thy Cross, and save me.


Troparion, Tone 4

Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy precious Blood.
Nailed to the Cross and pierced by the spear, Thou hast poured forth
immortality upon mankind. O our Saviour, glory to Thee!


digimortal

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Apr 9, 2004, 7:19:38 AM4/9/04
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Actually it was the Day of Preparation, not the Day of Passover. It was
just before the eve of Passover, just before sunset.

"Then the ungrateful people, not being able to tolerate seeing the
bodies on the crosses, since it was the great day of the Passover, asked

Pilate that the legs of the condemned might be broken..."

"Al Green" <a...@nospam.com> wrote in message
news:thodc.12238$M3.1...@twister.nyroc.rr.com...

> led into the Prætorium to Pilate, and "they did not enter," as they said,

Cunneen

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Apr 9, 2004, 10:51:39 AM4/9/04
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Luke 23:54
"It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women
who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the
tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared
spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the
commandment."

Jesus was crucified on Friday. The Orthodox church says so; the Catholic
church says so; the synoptics say so.

An intelligent revisionist with lots of cogent arguments is still a
revisionist. Peddle this over on the Unitarian Board.

Al Green

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Apr 9, 2004, 12:36:19 PM4/9/04
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"Cunneen" <cun...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20040409105139...@mb-m21.aol.com...

> Luke 23:54
> "It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The
women
> who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen
the
> tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and
prepared
> spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the
> commandment."
>
> Jesus was crucified on Friday. The Orthodox church says so; the Catholic
> church says so; the synoptics say so.


***Ah, but what about St. John's gospel? John has a slightly different spin
on it, doesn't he?

***BTW, I didn't write the piece that I posted. It was produced by the
Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.


digimortal

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Apr 9, 2004, 7:04:54 PM4/9/04
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Actually John was the only one actually present at the Cruxifiction. I
follow John.

"Al Green" <a...@nospam.com> wrote in message

news:7iAdc.13867$M3....@twister.nyroc.rr.com...

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