In preparing to mark Good Friday and Holy Saturday visually for the family, especially when the children were little, we decided on using a charcoal grey/black comforter as a table cloth and added other items to remind us of the sacrifice made for our sakes. By this we put a nail at each place setting. It was suggested to also keep the curtains closed all day to represent the light of the world going out for three days. This I just couldn’t do though. It felt far too gloomy for us, especially in a houseful of little ones where light shone on their faces in abundance so why snuff that out?
We added a wooden cross with a black garment draped over it. And one year we added a vine shaped into the crown of thorns with candles around it. There is a plant that grows wild in Israel that blooms at this time of year with tiny red blossoms on it rather like drops of blood, known obviously as The Crown of Thorns plant. This can be found at your local florist or nursery this time of year.
Scriptures we focus on for the day are Psalm 22, the prayer of the Suffering Servant, and then John 19:17-30. Some years we placed an index card at each person’s plate labeled either a “religious” person, a passerby, Pilate, a disciple, or Mary. We would discuss how each person would have reacted to the news that Jesus is dead, and share our feelings about that.
A book we’ve been reading through in Bible time for the last number of months is, All That the Prophets Have Spoken by John R. Cross. Something enlightening for me has been the explanation of the single Greek word used in Christ’s shout of victory, tetelestai meaning,”It is finished.” It had many different usages but John Cross shows us the three very relevant meanings to the crucifixion. Firstly, this word would have been used by a servant reporting to his or her master when they completed a task. Secondly, this word would have been used in commercial life. It meant the completion of a business transaction when a debt was paid in full. There are ancient receipts that have been found with this word, tetelestai, written across them. And thirdly, when lambs were selected for sacrifice in the temple the flock would be searched for the perfect, unblemished lamb, and when one was found they would declare, “tetelestai,” meaning the job was finished.
In the words right from this author:
“Quite literally Jesus shouted: “The work you gave me is completed, the debt is paid, the sacrificial lamb is found.” The Word of God says that Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished.”
…when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (Luke 23:47 NKJV)
It is noteworthy that it was the centurion, an officer in charge of 100 soldiers, who immediately commented on Jesus’ cry. Surely, he, a military man, knew the difference between a gasp of defeat and a shout of victory.”
So with this knowledge we now wait quietly during Good Friday and Holy Saturday remembering His sacrifice, and trusting. We think of areas in our own lives where we are trusting God, and areas in our lives where we need to place more trust in Him. We wait patiently for celebration Sunday to mark our day with a white table cloth and flowers to remind us that Jesus is alive!