Good Friday “Arbi Siqlet”: Passion of Christ

Kyrieeleison! O, Lord Have mercy! Kyrieeleison!

Contemplation of Passion of Christ on Good Friday

Passion week for believers has been a spiritual walk together along the way to Calvary with Our God and Savior Christ. It is a Passover we have been longing for throughout our lives; a Passover from the eye of destroying angle; a Passover from darkness and folly of sin, from the bondage and humiliation of Pharaoh, into the light, into Salvation, and into emancipation by the blood of Christ. Passion Week is a time when we moved with our thought and action through the suffering of Our God and Savior Christ. Let’s picture of the moments in a fraction from the point that they seize him on Thursday night to the time death.

9th Hour on Holy Thursday:-Seizing Christ

When they first seize Him, they tied His hand, they tied the hand King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He allowed this because He was to take all our sin and the full punishment that came with them. This was third of the five greatest suffering Mother of God had to endure during Christ's journey to the Cross.

“One day when St Mary was standing for prayer and being in ecstasy, heard the voice of our Lord speaking to the Theotokos, saying to her, “tell me, My mother, which were the greatest of your suffering when you live in the world which you did suffer for My sake”. The Virgin Mother replied, “My Son and God, five times I endured my greatest suffering for Thee: First, when I heard from the Prophet Symeon that thou were to be slain; second, when I looked for Thee in Jerusalem and did not see Thee for three days; third, when I heard that thou were seized and bound by the Jews; fourth, when I saw thee on the Cross crucified between the robbers; and fifth, when I saw Thee placed in the tomb”

“And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” And when they had bound him, they led him away and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (Matthew 26, 27).” The Mother of God seeing her own Lamb led to the slaughter cried and said, “..why has the worse counsel prevailed? Why have they lay hand on Thee unjustly?”.  The first part of the Psalm Prophesies the nature Judas who spoke in peace and even kissed the Savior but had evil in his heart to betray his Master. [Psalm 2]

11th Hour On Holy Thursday:- Trials Began

During this hour the prophecy of King David condemning Christ with false testimony happened: “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed”[Psalm 2].

“Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none…. last two false witnesses came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” ...the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”  Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses?

First hour [6-9AM] on Good Friday: Trails continues

Jesus Christ began to be judged in front of serious of councils: “When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.  And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor [Mt 27]. Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”[ Mt 27; Deut. 21:9, 27:25]. His love of money led his demise, as explained in the homily of St. John Chrysostom. Ironically, Judas has the same name as Judah, as one of the twelve sons of Jacob, who rather than shedding his brother Joseph’s blood, sold him for thirty pieces of silver [Gen.37:26].

Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, it was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, notorious prisoner, or Jesus who is called Christ?” They said, “Barabbas!”   Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person] You see to it.  And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. [Mt 27] Before the high priest, “they spit in His face and struck Him and some slapped Him” [Mt 26:67]

Third Hour: The painful torment of the Lamb

After Pilate washes his hands, the soldiers took Him into the common hall, paraded around Him, stripped Him and divided his garments, and “put a scarlet robe on Him”. all this was prophesied in Psalm 22:17, “They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots”.

At the 3rd Hour a table is placed in front of the sanctuary (with closed curtains), and on it a picture of the Crucifixion, as well the Gospel Book, and lit candles, and around them the liturgical vessels, to signify that there is no Liturgy on that day. All the prayers are prayed outside the sanctuary because the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified on the Mount Calvary {Golgotha} outside Jerusalem and according to the Laws of Moses, the sacrifice of sin is burnt outside the city.To the right and left of the table on the ground are two processional Crosses. A kind of representation of the ‘body of Christ” is found lying in front of the sanctuary. In front of the picture, a string is strung from wall to wall to hang a censer. From the 3rd to the 9th Hour, (at every hour), the censer will be agitated three times before the Gospel readings, by three different priests in turn, as symbol of Jesus being pulled and pushed by the Jews; the noise can be seen as crying and lamentation of Christ, and the smoke as symbol of death. During Passion Week all the Psalms and certain prayers (Weddase Maryam, Melke’a Maryam, Melke’a Iyesus) are recited throughout the day, distributed in the church by a student or a debtor or a priest.The Gebra Hemâmât, or Acts of the Passion, is a |57 collection of lessons and homilies for the days of Holy Week from the Sunday of Hosannas (Palm Sunday) to Easter Eve] will be read the whole day. Its readings and order are described in a book (Gebre Himamat).  

Then they put a crown of thorn on His head: “when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29). Here is the symbolism- After Adam sinned, God cursed the soil and told Adam, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil, you shall eat of it All the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” [Gen. 3:17-18].  Jesus allowed a crown of thorn to be put in His head, as a sign that He was taking into Himself all the thorns that man endured during his life away from Him. Then they flogged him 6,666 times. Pilate wanted to flog Christ and release him but the Jews wanted Him to suffer more. Mind you, flogging was done using a handle attached to several strips of leather, each of which was full of sharp pieces of metal. Each time that it hit His skin, hundreds of piece of metal would tear the skin and deep to the bone. Because of us, we who have been uncovered because of sin, the God of Glory. Eusebius [about 300 A.D.] described Jesus, was stripped of His clothes, was tied to the post and was whipped with ropes and rods in which there was a chain of bones… until this innocent body is scattered and its flesh dispersed in compensation, and His blood is shed to protect our wounds and to cure them. May we praise Him, for it is He who has killed death by death with His Crown of thorns! [St. Ephram the Syrian].

For what act do you wish, O Jews, to Crucify Christ? Is it because He raised you from dead as from sleep [Mt. 9:18-19, 23-26; Mk. 5:22-24, 35-43; Lk 7:11; Jn 11:1-46]; Or healed the woman with an issue of blood [Mt 9; Mk 5; Lk 8] and showed mercy upon the Canaanite woman [Mt 15:22-28]. For what act, O Jews, desire Christ’s death? But you shall behold Him whom you have flogged, and know that He is Christ. O! God’s people, What has He done to you? Where did He harm you? He has given a sight to the blind [Mt 9:227; Mk 8:22; Lk 18:35; Jn 9], He cleanse the lepers [Mt. 8:2; Mk 1:40; Lk 5:12;] and He raised the paralytic man.

This is the day of pain, the day of sorrows. It is the commandment for us, “not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake [Phil. 1:29]. By actively participating in the Holy Passion Week, through fasting, prayer, repenting and bowing, we experience a micro-fraction of “His suffering”

Priest: Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me.[Psalm 35:1-3]

Deacon: For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. [Psalm 22:16]

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed….the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.[Isa. 53:6]

O! Israel, what has He done to you and what have you rewarded Him? Instead of manna [Ex 16:4-21], gall and in place of water [Ex17:5], vinegar; and instead of loving Christ, you nail Him at the Cross. When has He angered you? Where did He cause you sorrow? Has He not filled Judea with miracles? Has He not raised the dead with His Word? Has He not healed the sickness and disease? How have you responded to His love? Instead of goodness, evil, in place of healing, you inflict wound to Him.

“The bridegroom of the Church is fastened with nails

He who clothes himself with light as with a garment stood naked for trial

He was struck on the cheek by the hand that He Himself had made

A people that transgressed the law nailed the Lord of Glory to the Cross

Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two, then the sun was darkened”

The Six Hour of Good Friday: the Crucifixion

After that, they forced Him to carry His weapon of execution, the Cross, under which He fell three times on His way to Calvary. “And He bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17). Here is another symbolism in old Testament similar to the story: “So Abraham {symbol of God the Father]  took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac [symbol of Christ] his son, and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife and the two of them went together.  But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” [Gen. 22: 6-8].

The Cross was so heavy that they forced a man called Simon the Cyrene to carry it the rest of the way to the Golgotha. When Christ reached there, they took His robe and the rest of His Clothes, which left Him completely naked.  The one who covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve when they sinned, become necked, with no fault of His own. He allowed this because nakedness was a sign and punishment of sin. It showed the state of humankind.

Then they pierce and drove huge nails into His hands and leg using a heavy hummer. It is beyond imaginable to think how much suffering  He endured at those moments. Then they rose the Cross and put it in the hole they dug for it in the ground. As they do this, the Body is pulled down, and its whole weight pushes on the three spots where the nails are. This produces tremendous pain.

At the 6th Hour (the Hour of the Crucifixion), before the Gospel readings, the priest sings:

“We prostrate in front of Your Cross, O Master, and all of us, we glorify Your holy Resurrection, now and forever).

Deacon chants: They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones.They look and stare at Me.  [Psalm 22:16-17]. which is repeated by the people.

When the mother of God saw this, she wept bitterly, saying, “My child, what unjust death and no one suffer with you. Peter doesn’t accompany You-- he said to You, “ Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” [Mt. 26:33]. Tomas has left You-- he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” [11:16]. “a sward has gone through my heart, O Son,” said the Virgin in her grief, as she beheld Christ her son and Master hanging on the tree, “and my heart is sorely rent, O Master, from my grief, as Symon once told me of old. But do you now arise, O Word. And I Pray Thee, O Immortal one, do you glorify your mother and maid with this.” [Lamentation of St Mary] One saint said, “the pain which, in ways surpassing nature, your mother did not undergo at Your birth, she suffered at you holy Passion. For she was filled with agony when she saw You nailed of Your own will by the Jews upon the Cross, O you who have set the earth upon the foundation of the waters”.

On Christ’s suffering and death, St. Cyril of Alexandria said, “God, who is beyond suffering, suffered in His own flesh as a human being. In becoming a man, though God, in no way did He cease being God; ..being master according to His divinity, He “took upon Him the form of a servant” [Phil. 2:7] yet He still has the inseparable dignity of a Master; being the Only-Begotten, He becomes “the firstborn among many brethren”[Rom. 8:30]. So the all-wise Paul says that Christ Jesus, who, being “in the form of God [Phil. 2:6] and equal to God the Father, ‘became obedient unto death, even the death at the Cross’”[Phil. 2:8].

The Ninth Hour: Death.

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, there was darkness over all the land. The Church recreates this eclipse by turning off all the light in the church. The three huge wounds of the hands and the feet bleed profusely, and the internal organs are under physical stress and began to deteriorate because of the diminished amount of blood getting into them. While on the cross Jesus Christ spoke seven times. Seven is one of the numbers that means perfection, and in this particular case meant that Jesus’ mission was perfectly completed. The whole body is dehydrated. Finally, the vital organs began to stop functioning, and when the heart stops, He died before the two thieves who were crucified with Him.

At the 9th hour, before the Gospel reading, three priests sit down in front of the picture of Crucifixion (as if in front of the Cross itself); a large black cloth is put on their heads (symbolizing people coming to mourn in front of the Cross), and they say three times: «Amnestiti moukyria enti fassilia sou» (distortion of Greek «mnestiti mou kyrie en ti vassilai sou»), «Lord remember me in your Kingdom»

.At the 9th Hour (the Hour of Christ’s death), (while pulling at the censer) the three priests sing in turn: «He tasted death in His Flesh», three times and faithful will repeat it and prostate.

Then one of the criminals who was hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? ... Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” [Lk 23:39]

“The thief, whose hand were defiled with blood

Thou did accept as thy fellow-traveler

With him, number us also, O Lord

For Thou are good and lovest mankind

But we, imitate the righteous thief, cry out in faith

Remember us also, O Savior, in thy kingdom”

With St. Mary, mother of God, at the time of crucifixion was St. John the disciple. He alone among the disciple did not abandon the Lord. He remained faithful to the very end and was present to accept Jesus’ last command.  “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. The mother of God experience agony:-

“Today the blameless virgin

Saw Thee suspending upon the Cross, O ward,

She mourned within herself and was sorely pierced in her heart

She groaned in agony from the depth of her soul”

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine,

Deacon: They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. [Psalm 69:21]

He said, “It is finished!”And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.Then, the soldiers broke their legs of the two thieves to hasten their death, but when they came to Jesus they found that He was already dead. Then one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, diagonally ending in the heart. This was a prophecy mentioned in Psalm: “ my heart is wounded” [109:21]. Immediately blood and water came out from His side. As Moses struck the rock in the desert, and water poured out that saved the life of the people of Israel when the soldier pierced the side of our Saviour on the Cross, blood, and water came out. It is now up to us to satisfy our thirst from the water of life. The soldier who thrust this spear was named Longinus, after this majestic events, he confessed Christianity and become himself a martyr.

Eleventh Hour: Taking down from the Cross

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.“When the holy Joseph and Nicodemus were taking down/burying the body of our Lord, doubts entered their minds concerning His Divinity.  Suddenly, a choir of angels appeared to them singing defiantly, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal.”  and at the words “Holy Immortal One,” Christ opened His eyes in their face; then the two righteous men, realizing their error, joined in the singing, and then as if to confess their sin and to ask for mercy and forgiveness, they added to the angelic hymn the phrase, “O Thou Who was crucified for us have mercy on us”.  The Church later adopted this hymn, adding a verse concerning the Virgin birth of our Lord and another concerning His resurrection and ascension.”  This prayer is called The Trisagion [KIDAN - Prayer of the Covenant], which we use it on daily bases in our Church whenever there is a service.

At the 11th Hour, all the objects and Crosses (in front of the sanctuary) will be taken away, and the clergy will carry the picture of the Crucifixion or the representation of Christ’s ‘body’ into the sanctuary, and pray: «Christ have mercy upon us», 400 times (a hundred times each toward the four cardinal points); and the people will respond: «Christ have mercy upon us» («Egzio maharane Krestos»; this prayer is therefore called egziota.

Then, at the place called Qine-Mahlet, another ritual unique to the tradition takes place: the cursing of Judas and his generation. Several Mergetas form a circle, with one person standing in the middle holding a stick (maqwamia) with a candle (twaf) at its tip, which is a symbol of the devil and Judas. At the end of the last verse of Psalm I, when «But the way of the ungodly will perish » is said, all the clergy strike the stick in the middle to extinguish the light of its twaf , and ‘destroy’ it, as though Christ’s death the Devil has lost his power and Judas is cursed and destroyed because of his betrayal.

Immediately after, the clergy with sistra and beating of sticks and drums used for the first time since Palm Sunday, and all sing: «Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously» (Ex.15:21)

After that faithful will come to the priest who will give them (gentle) strokes (tibtaba) on their back, with olive branches, to commemorate the Flagellation of Christ, and as an absolution. At the same time, as confession is due on that day, the faithful will rapidly confess their sins to the priest.

Twelfth Hour: Burial

And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified, there was a garden and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.[Jn 19:38]

I lay down and slept [Psalm 3:5]

God Bless!

Dn. Medhanie

God Bless!

Dn. Medhanie Haile




  1. Reply
    Kibreab Yohannes says

    Great article. Kale Hywet yesmAlna.

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