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Summary: This is a complete Good Friday service, with Scripture and readings and songs.

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Good Friday Service – April 14, 2006

Welcome; instructions

Invitation to worship; time of silence

“Message of the Cross”

“A Dark Passover” – Kids’ sketch

Lazarus: John 11:37-44

37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39"Take away the stone," he said.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

40Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

Do You Want To Be Free? (brief meditation)

Do you want to be free?

There is a story in the Gospels, where Jesus comes to a particular pool where the sick would go in hopes of experiencing supernatural healing. He meets a man there, who had been paralyzed for 38 years, and asks him: “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6).

I ask the same question this morning – do you want to be free, to get well?

The first answer is perhaps, “why wouldn’t we want to be free?” To which I’ll respond with yet another question: “if we want to be free, then why aren’t we?” Perhaps you are – completely free, totally free, abundantly free. Most aren’t. Why aren’t we? It is certainly not because God doesn’t have the power to set us free. It is certainly not because God doesn’t have the will to set us free. It is certainly not because God hasn’t done everything possible so that we could be free.

It has nothing to do with God, and God’s ability or desire or action in our histories.

Perhaps it has to do with us. Perhaps we are afraid to let go. Perhaps we have gotten comfortable with our chains, gotten used to our cages, befriended the darkness. Perhaps we have become accustomed to, even fond of, going through life half asleep, not engaging, not risking, not feeling, not thinking. Perhaps we are lazy and complacent and have bought into the lie that this imprisonment is all that there is.

Jesus death on the cross is intended to prove otherwise. It is intended to bring life, abundantly. It is intended to bring love, unconditionally. It is intended to bring forgiveness, continually. It is intended to bring freedom, completely. “This is the message of the cross: that we can be free. To live in the victory, and turn from our sin, To lay all our burdens here, at the foot of the tree, To hunger for heaven, to hunger for Thee.”

Today could be just another service. Or it could be the discovery of freedom. If you will come to the cross, look upon Jesus’ suffering, admit that your sin crucified Him, allow yourself to know and to feel the pain and cost that Jesus went through so that you could be free, and then simply ask for forgiveness, Jesus will set you free.

But you have to come. You have to listen, when like Lazarus you hear Jesus voice calling you to come out of the tomb. You might have to struggle because you are tightly bound, you might have to get up off of the cold earth, you might have to feel your way along the walls while all you can do is hear Jesus’ voice, you might have to stumble out of the darkness towards the open door, you might have to shield your eyes at first against the brightness, you might have to let others peel and unravel and cut off the smelly grave clothes.

Compared to what Jesus went through for us, that is not too much. Especially because, when we listen to Jesus and come out from death and sin, we will be alive, and we will be free. Do you want to be free?

Sanhedrin/Ciaphas’ prophecy: John 11:47-52

47Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place[c] and our nation."

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