Visual Devotions for Holy Week – Good Friday

1 Comment » Written on April 9th, 2009     
Filed under: Formation, Holy Week

It is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ walk to Calvary, his crucifixion, and death.  It is the most solemn day of the Church Year.  It is a day for us to be especially mindful of what Jesus did on our behalf, and to think about how we can respond most appropriately.  Jesus did something very extreme for us, suffering incredible brutality and pain and, ultimately, dying on the cross.  What can we do—what extreme kind of response can we offer—to show our love and gratefulness to the Lord?  The word “sacrifice” is not a popular word today, nor is the idea itself.  We prefer comfort, familiarity, and safety in our lives.  But in light of what we witness today—the God of the universe dying for us—a sacrificial response on our part seems only right.  Listen today for how the Holy Spirit might be calling you to sacrifice your life in some way, as you consider Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.

The photos are of the Via Dolorosa and of the two possible sites of Golgotha and the Tomb of Jesus:  the Holy Sepulcher Church and the Garden Tomb. 

Readings for Good Friday:  Matthew 27:1-66, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:66-23:56, John 18:28-19:42


Via Dolorosa means “Way Of Suffering.”  It is the path Jesus walked from Pilate’s palace to Calvary, and is traditionally marked by 14 stations, “The Stations Of the Cross.”  The path winds its way through the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.  Of course, the actual street from the time of Jesus is no longer there.  However, the length of the walk is approximately the same, and there are historical connections to some of the stations along the way.  Christian pilgrims from all over the world retrace the steps of Jesus when they come to Jerusalem, stopping at each of the 14 stations to read, pray, and remember what Jesus endured along the “Way Of Suffering.”

The First Station Of the Cross:  “Jesus is condemned to death.”  The Antonio Fortress was where Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.  Notice that today this station shares the same space with a souvenir stand!  An amazing juxtaposition of faith and culture!  It testifies to the “incarnation”—how spirit became flesh on this earth in Jesus; how eternity is manifested in the mundane things of life!


The Fifth Station Of the Cross:  “Simon of Cyrene carries the cross.”


As I said, the Via Dolorosa winds its way through the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City!


At several places along the Via Dolorosa, ancient Roman paving stones from the time of Christ do surface, evidence that a first century street did exist here.


The Hilmar Covenant tour group in June of 2006, stopping along the Via Dolorosa at the Sixth Station Of the Cross:  “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.”


The order of service for “The Stations Of the Cross” on Good Friday.


The Holy Sepulcher Church is built over the most ancient and likely sites of Golgotha and the Tomb of Christ.  The Christian community of Jerusalem held worship services here until 66 AD, further evidence that this site is authentic.  


Interior of the Holy Sepulcher Church


Space around the Tomb of Christ.  The edge of the tomb can be seen on the right.


Steps leading up to the top of Calvary.  Because of all this stuff that is built up, over, and around the “Place of the Skull” and the Tomb itself, it is rather difficult to imagine what the site really looked like before the church was constructed around it. 


Inside one of the chapels of the Holy Sepulcher Church is an amazing artistic rendering of “The Stations of the Cross” in metal.  All of the figures are similar to this one, very stylized and dramatic yet somewhat impressionistic.  Depicted here is the Eleventh Station Of the Cross:  “Jesus is nailed to the cross.”


This 12th century mosaic of Jesus being nailed to the cross is above the altar of the first chapel on the top of Calvary.  This is the actual Eleventh Station Of the Cross. 


Christians kneeling in homage to Jesus at the site of the crucifixion, the Twelfth Station Of the Cross:  “Jesus dies on the cross.”  The place where the cross was supposedly placed into the ground of Calvary itself is under the altar on the right. 


The altar over Calvary.  The circular plate with a hole in it, in the center of the photo under the altar, is where you can put your hand down and touch the very top of Calvary.


A view of the rock of Calvary.  What would it look like if the entire church structure was removed from around it?!


This is another possible location of Golgotha, the “Place of the Skull.”  You can see a very skull-like appearance in the rocky hillside.  This rugged face is next to the Garden Tomb (the other possible location of the Tomb of Jesus).  It is also next to the East Jerusalem bus stop!

Close-up of “The Skull.” 


The Stone of Unction, where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.  It is immediately inside the entrance of the Holy Sepulcher Church.  Christian pilgrims venerate this site by kneeling in prayer, meditation, kissing the stone, and wiping cloths over it to take home.


The Tomb of Jesus is inside this shrine, known as the Edicule.  The tomb itself is the Fourteenth Station Of the Cross:  “Jesus is laid in the tomb.”  The edicule is supported by scaffolding on the outside due to earthquakes, and is not very attractive!  The dome that you saw in Wednesday’s devotional is directly over the Tomb of Jesus.   


The inside of the Tomb of Christ, where the body of Jesus was laid.  This is the holiest site in Christendom.


The Garden Tomb, an alternate site of the Tomb of Jesus.  The quiet, natural, outdoor location make it a favorite for many Christians, especially because it is easier to imagine what might have occurred here, compared to the immense structure of the Holy Sepulcher Church.


The place where Jesus’ body might have been laid to rest following the crucifixion.


This groove or track that runs along the front of the Garden Tomb helped to roll a large stone in front of the entrance to the tomb (Matt. 27:60).


Prayer for Today:  Crucified Savior, naked God, you hang disgraced and powerless.  As we wait at the foot of your cross, help us to see the cost of our forgiveness so that we may be made new through your grace.  Amen.  (from The Covenant Book of Worship) 

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