Each year on Good Friday at Celebration Church in New Orleans, we do a more interactive type of service with various dramatic elements. I typically share the outline on my blog after the service happens for reference by others. I hope you find it helpful, or at least interesting.
2023 Good Friday Service Outline
UPFRONT WORSHIP MUSIC SECTION
- Song – The Lion and The Lamb
- Song – Graves Into Gardens
- Song – Behold the Lamb
PASSOVER TO LAST SUPPER SECTION
1200 Years Video (Video produced by Celebration Church New Orleans – the link is to the left, Script below)
At least 1200 years before Jesus was born
The people of Israel cried out to the Lord
They had been in bondage for 400 years….
God heard their cries
He delivered them by the leadership of Moses through a series of plagues:
Water turning to blood,
Frogs, lice, flies,
Livestock pestilence, boils,
Hail, locusts, and darkness
Nasty stuff… Harsh plagues… But then…
The final plague
An angel of death came to every home unless the family had sacrificed a lamb
And splattered its blood on their doorposts and side beams.
If that had been done, the death angel Passed Over them.
And they were safe.
The message of Passover was clear
To be delivered from judgment, a death was required.
But the death of a substitute was acceptable
From then on in Israel
Every single sacrifice served as a reminder
That our God can deliver us from judgment
through the death of a substitute.
However, no animal sacrifice was sufficient for eternal forgiveness
So a sacrificial system was begun.
Over the centuries, the sacrifices continued by the millions
They continued while the Jews
While the whole world
Waited for the perfect sacrifice
Over 1200 years later, that sacrifice was made
It happened on a Friday,
What we call Good Friday,
the Son of God,
the Lamb of God
Was offered as a sacrifice for us all on the cross
To be delivered from judgment, a death was required
For the wages of sin is death
But the sacrifice of the innocent substitute’s blood was eternally acceptable.
And the gift of God was eternal life
Through that perfect, sinless, beautiful, sacrificial Lamb,
Who shed His blood for You and for me.
For our eternal forgiveness.
While we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us
At the cross
And there to our hearts was His blood applied
Glory to His name.
Song – Thank You, Jesus, For the Blood Applied (First verse and chorus)
(Music continues behind speaker)
Communion Introduction: How many of you are thankful that the Lord has made a way that we could be brought out of darkness into glorious light? When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he cried, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) We’re about to observe a special time of worship where we remember how Jesus, as the Lamb of God, paid the price for our sin on the cross. Some people call this observance communion. Some people call it the Lord’s Supper. Some people call it the Lord’s Table. Whatever you call it, one thing is certain. It’s about Him. It’s His communion. It’s His Supper. It’s His communion. He instituted it at the Last Supper while He was observing Passover with His disciples the night before He was betrayed.
The Bible says that “When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, ‘I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins” (Luke 22:14-15)
Jesus had been with His disciples for three years so He must have celebrated Passover with them before. But this time, Jesus took it further. Instead of a sacrificed animal being the focus of remembrance, He was the focus of remembrance.
The Bible says, “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:14-15)
(Lead the people to take the bread)
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people – an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out for you.” Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19-20)
(Lead the people to take the juice – give them instructions about their cups)
Pray (Thanking God for His body and His blood)
Song Continues – Thank You, Jesus, For the Blood Applied (Song continues through tag)
Speaker: The Bible teaches us that “Accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There He told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Luke 22:39-44)
Is it possible for someone to sweat blood? It’s very rare, but it is possible. The condition is called hematidrosis. It happens when extreme physical or emotional stress causes blood vessels that surround the sweat glands to rupture and blood is lost through the sweat glands. That’s the type of anguish Jesus was going through.
Can you imagine the type of anguish Jesus was going through? He knew what was about to happen if everything continued. He knew He was the sinless Lamb of God. He knew He was about to be betrayed and denied by His closest friends. He knew He was about to be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. If it would have been us, we would have run away. But He didn’t. Instead, He submitted to His Father’s will.
GARDEN TO THE CROSS SECTION
What happened next must have seemed like a hurricane of activity:
(Read through the next section, only expounding when necessary)
- While Jesus was in agony, His disciples were asleep.
- Except for Judas, who appeared with a mob and betrayed Jesus with a kiss
- Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house where Peter, the Rock, denied Him three times before the rooster crowed.
- Then Jesus was blindfolded and was mocked and beaten by the guards who cried out, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”
- He was given a mockery of a trial before Pilate who said, “I find no basis for your charges against Him.
- But when given the choice to release Him, the crowd shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
- He was whipped, He was beaten
- A Crown of Thorns was shoved on His head.
- He was forced to carry the very cross on which He was to be crucified.
The Bible says that, “When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left.” (Luke 23:32)
Crucifixion often meant binding or nailing someone to a cross and letting them die slowly. This is what they did with Jesus. They took three nails (hold the nails out), possibly like this, and nailed Him to the cross.
- They drove a nail through one hand into the cross (hit the nails together three times)
- They drove another nail through his other hand into the cross (hit the nails together three times)
- Finally, they drove a final nail through his feet into the cross (hit the nails together three times)
The cross was raised and Jesus hung there for the world to see.
The Bible says, “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 22:44-46 ESV)
Jesus was dead. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was sacrificed there for you and for me. He lived a totally sinless life and was a sacrifice worthy of eternal forgiveness. So, come to the cross and behold the Lamb.
The Cross Video (Video created by Passion City Church – linked to the left)
(When the video ends, the decision Song Behold the Lamb begins.
From the time of the first Passover, the Israelites understood God can deliver us from judgment for our sin through the sacrifice of a substitute, even though no animal sacrifice was sufficient for eternal forgiveness. Over 1200 years later, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross so we could be forgiven of our sins and live with Him forever. We all have a need to come to the cross and behold the Lamb.
- We all have a need for Him – “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)
- We all deserve punishment for our sin, but God has made a way for us – “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
- He gave His Son for us because He loves us – “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8)
- Admit to God that you are a sinner – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
- We must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts – “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him for the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
- We must surrender ourselves to the Lord, making Him Lord of our lives – “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
(Band continues playing/singing Behold the Lamb)
Jesus surrendered Himself for you. What will you surrender of yourself for Him?
- Will you give your life to Him as Savior and Lord?
- Will you finally surrender those sinful habits to Him?
- Will you start tithing or giving to the Lord?
- Will you be willing to serve Him however He might ask?
- Will you honor Him with your relationships?
- Will you surrender to Him by finally sharing His love with your family?
- Will you be honest at work, or with your taxes, or with your spouse?
- Will you surrender yourself to vocational Christian service?
Is there something else you are willing to surrender to the Lord today? While the music plays, take time to pray, thanking the Lord for His sacrifice and asking Him what you should give to Him. Then, if you’re willing, write it out on your special Good Friday Communication Card you received when you entered tonight.
(End by singing the chorus of Behold the Lamb)
Prayer (closing out decision song and praying for offering)
Offering is taken during Closing Remarks
Celebrative Closing Song –
* Image courtesy of Dylan McLeod
** Special Thanks to the Pastors and Congregation of Celebration Church