Good Friday: Family faith formation at home

Gather your family in the place that is comfortable and allows for reading, hearing and talking about the biblical story. The format for today is to read a section of the Good Friday account in Matthew’s Gospel and use the questions to reflect.

Some points to incorporate in discussion or to answer questions that may arise:

  • “Good” Friday is the day Christians intentionally remember Jesus’ crucifixion and the sacrifice he made on our behalf.
  • It is called “good” not because what humanity did to Jesus was good, but because what God did through it was good. Jesus’ death, and on Sunday his resurrection, brought the grace of salvation for all of us.
  • Between the end of the Last Supper and Friday morning, the following things happened:
    • Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray and the disciples followed him.
    • He asked them to pray and he went into the garden to pray by himself.
    • During his prayer he asked God to stop what was going to happen, but said if it was God’s will then he would be obedient.
    • Jesus returned to find the disciples had fallen asleep rather than praying.
    • Judas, the disciple who took 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus, comes with a crowd to the garden and kisses Jesus on the cheek. This was the sign to Jesus’ enemy that the man was in fact Jesus.
    • Jesus was arrested and was taken to the high priest’s house.
    • Peter followed at a distance. When he was asked if he was with Jesus, Peter denied it. In fact, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times that night, just as Jesus said he would. When Peter realized what he had done, he wept.
    • Jesus was mocked and beaten. They asked him, “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus responded, “You say that I am.” And that was “proof enough” for those who held him to condemn him.

Begin with prayer:

Today is called Good Friday, but we can’t seem to see what is good about the day you died, Gracious Lord. But we know that God works good out of human evil and we give thanks for the goodness that emerges from this day. We thank you for you sacrifice and your willingness to do God’s will. Give us the courage to live in ways that reflect our gratitude for the grace your Son brings to our lives. Amen.

Read Matthew 27:1-10 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB.

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus?
  • Why do you think he changed his mind?
  • Do you think Jesus forgave him?

Read Matthew 27:11-26 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think Jesus wouldn’t answer Pilate?
  • Why did Pilate give the crowd a choice – Jesus or Barabbas?
  • Why do you think the crowd chose Barabbas?
  • Why do you think Pilate washed his hands?
  • When have you gone along with the decision of a crowd and later regretted it? Why did you initially decide to go along, even though you knew deep down inside it probably wasn’t a wise decision?

Read Matthew 27:27-37 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB. 

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why did the soldiers hurt and mock Jesus?
  • When have you mocked someone and then realized what you did was not the best part of you?
  • In what ways have you made amends?

Read Matthew 27:38-44 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB.

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why did the thieves, who were experiencing the same thing as Christ, join in mocking Jesus?
  • Why do you think Jesus didn’t save himself even though he had to power to so?
  • If you could ask Jesus one question at this point in the story, what would it be and why?

Read Matthew 27:45-49 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB.

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why did Jesus cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  • What do you think he was feeling and why?
  • When have you felt alone? What helped you get through it?

Read Matthew 27:50-61 aloud in the NRSV or the CEB.

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think the earth reacted the way it did when Jesus died?
  • Why did Joseph of Arimathea ask for Jesus’ body?
  • How does Scripture describe Joseph of Arimathea?
  • Why would the text call him a disciple when he wasn’t one of the original 12?
  • How does someone get to be a disciple?
  • In what ways are you a disciple of Jesus?
  • The story of Jesus’ crucifixion in Matthew ends with two Marys sitting in front of the tomb. Why did they stay?
  • Where do you think you would have been if you were there when Jesus was crucified and why?

Additional teaching points:

  • It can be hard to leave the story right where we did. Our inclination is to rush to the Good News of Easter morning.
  • It is important that we stay in Good Friday today. On that day and on through Saturday, Jesus is dead. It’s difficult to sit with the idea that Jesus is dead.
  • However, if Jesus weren’t really dead he wouldn’t have been fully human and God would not have needed to resurrect him.
  • Being a disciple sometimes means we have to stay with the hurt and pain of others.
  • This is only possible because we trust God and we know God keeps Holy promises.

Close with prayer:

Sit with us, O God, so that we are not alone. Help us to be still so that we can take in the meaning of today. Be with us as we await your good news. Amen.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.