Summary: This Tenebrae service is designed to be conducted as a funeral service for a dear friend.
Opening congregational hymn - #385 - Near the Cross
Welcome and thank you for your time in being here this evening to pay your respects and to show your love for someone whom we loved so dearly. We gather this evening to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is preceded in death by His step-father, Joseph and His cousin John the Baptist.
What a story Jesus has. Shortly before Jesus was born, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus decided that a census be taken throughout the Roman Empire, including the land of Israel. People were required to return to their ancestral homes for registration. For Joseph and Mary, that meant leaving Nazareth, which is a town in the northern district of Galilee, and traveling to Bethlehem, which is in the southern region called Judah or Judea. His parents were not rich by any means.
In fact, on the night that Jesus was born, his parents found that all the hotels and motels were booked and they literally didn’t have a place to stay the night. But His mom was in labor. Someone offered them the use of a stable where they could at least get out of the weather for the baby to be born.
Jesus was born on December 25, 00 in Bethlehem.
His life started off in chaos. You see, at that time, the King was Herod and he was a very jealous man. He had heard from some astrologers that Bethlehem was where the new-born King was born. King Herod made a decree that all the babies from 2 years old and under were to be killed because he felt his throne was being threatened.
To protect his step-son from any harm, Joseph took the baby and the baby’s mother and moved to Egypt for a while. After a time, King Herod died and Joseph moved back to what became Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Jesus grew up in Nazareth. He was an active little boy but learned the skill of carpentry since his step-dad was a carpenter.
One time, when Jesus was 12 years old he and his mother Mary and stepfather Joseph traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Feast of the Passover. When the feast had ended, Mary and Joseph got separated from Jesus and they searched for him. Jesus had gone to the church and was talking to the people there. Jesus was a very smart child. He knew things that only the scholars of that day knew. But, none the less, Jesus got in trouble and was told to stick close to the family as they traveled and to never wander off like that again.
As Jesus grew older, He felt a calling to the ministry. He felt without a doubt that God was leading Him to have a ministry and to try to draw people closer to God by preaching to them and performing what was called miracles.
Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. He had left the district of Galilee, which included the town of Nazareth, where he grew up, and had traveled to the wilderness of the Jordan River to be baptized. There, His cousin John the Baptist drew crowds as he preached and baptized.
For some reason, Jesus felt the need that He, too, needed to be baptized. I’m not sure at the time that Jesus knew what an example He was setting for any future followers to be obedient to God’s pull on their life and following that example.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment, the strangest thing happened and was witnessed by many—heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." - Matthew 3:16-17 Everyone there heard that voice and saw that dove-like being.
After he was baptized, Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days. Satan used this time to tempt Jesus. We are told the story that as Jesus fasted, He was tempted by the devil. During the temptations, Satan used the supernatural to find Jesus in the desert, then to transport Jesus to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to take Jesus to a high mountain. With each successive temptation, the loftiness of what Satan offered increased, as does the height from which he made the offer.
Each time, Jesus resisted the temptation and quoted scripture to rebuke Satan. Yes, Jesus walked the walk of a good and righteous person. After he had fasted for 40 days, His call to the ministry officially began.
The story is told of Jesus’ first public miracle. Jesus and some of His friends went to Cana, a town in the district of Galilee, to attend a wedding party. His mother, Mary, also attended. The host of the wedding party didn’t have enough wine for everyone and this was considered a very embarrassing situation. Mary intervened on behalf of the wedding host and told Jesus about the problem. Jesus then miraculously changed six barrels of water into wine for the wedding party. No doubt, he was the most popular person at that party.