Good Friday is, of course, the day in the Christian calendar that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary, where he took on the sins of the world to restore man's relationship with God.
I did a talk last year on the medieval and Tudor traditions associated with Good Friday - click here to view that now - and today I want to simply focus on Christ's crucifixion, the event that was at the root of all of these traditions.
Following Christ’s condemnation for claiming to be King of the Jews, he was taken to Calvary and crucified. I'd like to share St John’s account of Christ's crucifixion from William Tyndale's 1534 New Testament:
Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers wound a crown of thorns and put it on his head. And they did on him a purple garment and said “Hail King of the Jews” and they smote him on the face. Pilate went forth again and said unto them: “behold I bring him forth to you that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
Then came Jesus forth wearing a crown of thorn and a robe of purple. And Pilate said unto them: behold the man. When the high Priests and ministers saw him they cried saying: “crucify him crucify him”. Pilate said unto them. “Take ye him and crucify him: for I find no cause in him.” The Jews answered him. We have a law and by our law he ought to die: because he made himself the son of God. When Pilate heard that saying he was the more afraid and went again into the judgment hall and said unto Jesus: “whence art thou? But Jesus gave him none answer. Then said Pilate unto him. “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and have power to loose thee?
Jesus answered: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above. Therefore he that delivered me unto thee is more in sin.”
And from thence forth sought Pilate means to loose him: but the Jews cried saying: “if thou let him go thou art not Caesar’s friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king is against Caesar.”
When Pilate heard it saying, he brought Jesus forth and sat down to give sentence in a place called the pavement: but in the Hebrew tongue Gabbatha.
It was the Sabbath even, which falleth in the easter fest and about the sixth hour. And he saide vnto the Jews: “behold your king”.
They cried “away with him! away with him! crucify him!”
Pilate said unto them. “Shall I crucify your kinge?”
The high Priests answered: “we have no king but Caesar.”
Then delivered he him unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away. And he bare his cross and went forth into a place called the place of dead men’s skulls which is named in Hebrew Golgatha. Where they crucified him and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote his title and put it on the cross. The writing was “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. This title read many of the Jews. For the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city. And it was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
Then said the high priestes of the Jews to Pilate: “write not king of the Jews: but that he said I am kynge of the Jews”. Pilate answered: “what I have written, that have I written”.
Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus took his garments and made four parts to every soldier a part and also his coat. The coat was without seam wrought upon throughout. And they said one to another. “Let us not divide it: but cast lots who shall have it”. That the scripture might be fulfilled which sayeth “They parted my raiment among them and on my coat did cast lots”. And the soldiers did such things indeed.
There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said unto his mother: “woman behold thy son”. Then said he to the disciple: “behold thy mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her for his own.
After that ,when Jesus perceived that all things were performed: that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said: “I thirst”.
There stood a vessel full of vinegar by. And they filled a sponge with vinegar and wound it about with hyssop and put it to his mouth. As soon as Jesus had received of the vinegar, he said: “It is finished” and bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
The Jews then because it was the Sabbath eve, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that saboth day was a high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken down. Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first and of the other which was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear thrust him into the side and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record and his record is true. And he knoweth that he sayeth true that ye might believe also. These things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled: “Ye shall not break a bone of him”. And again another scripture sayeth: “They shall look on him whom they pierced”.
After that, Joseph of Aramathea (which was a disciple of Jesus: but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take down the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him licence. And there came also Nicodemus which at the beginning came to Jesus by night and brought of myrrh and aloes mingled together about a hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesu and wound it in linen cloths with the odours as the manner of the Jews is to bury. And in the place where Jesus was crucified was a garden and in the garden a new sepulchre wherein was never man laid. There laid they Jesus because of the Jews sabbath even for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.