Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) by Francisco de Zurberan
I woke up this morning thinking of a Wednesday years ago in which Judas secretively took leave of his friends to sell his soul and sell out Jesus for a few pieces of silver. Monday, long ago, Jesus cursed the fig tree, reminding me that God wants me fruitful. Before that there was a great entrance into the city to shouts of acclamation. Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday – “Holy Thursday.” The joyous night Jesus joined his disciples for one, final, important meal. The night he instituted Holy Communion. The night he washed their feet.
Jesus’ joy turned to sorrow at his betrayal, arrest, and so-called “trial.” As Thursday turned to Friday he was taken before Pilate, condemned, beaten and crucified. “Good Friday,” we call it. Ironic. Friday is the day of crucifixion.
I hope you’ll join us at New Life Church on Friday at 6:00 for our Good Friday service. We will learn together the powerful truths of Passover – and how Jesus became our Passover Lamb. Until then, I leave you with a Good Friday prayer I hope you will join me in praying:
A Prayer for Good Friday
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, slain for the sin of the whole world, with a penitent heart I come to your cross, pleading for mercy and forgiveness. My sins—and they are many—have added to the burden of your suffering and have nailed you to the accursed tree. For me you tasted the agony of the utter darkness that I might not perish, but have everlasting life. Have mercy upon me.
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, embrace me with your love, and forgive me all my sins. Your death brings healing to the soul, peace to the mind, cleansing to the heart. If it were for sin, I could not come; for my hands are dirty, my lips are unclean, and my heart is dark. But seeing you, despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, like one from whom I hide my face, despised and esteemed not…all for my sake, I come to be cleansed and forgiven.
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, grant that I may hate sin and wickedness more and more as I look upon your cross. My grateful heart today finds hope in your words, comfort in your promises, peace through your Spirit and salvation in your finished work on that cross, by which you have overcome sin, Satan, and death. I sing:
There for me the Savior stands,
shows his wounds and spreads his hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
– “Depth of Mercy,” Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
O Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Jesus, Lamb of God, Agnus Dei, hear my prayer.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
(adapted from Steve Kinneman)