When we walk the Via Delarosa (The way Jesus walked to Golgotha), we find plaques along the way that note which of the 14 Stations of the Cross traditionally took place at that point. I was able to find most of them during our list Israel trip. These 14 stations are usually positioned around the sanctuary in many Catholic Churches. When I was a little boy, and an altar boy at Blessed Sacrament, I remember being part of the Way of the Cross services in which I’d hold an incense burner and follow the Priest who would walk around the sanctuary and stop at each station and reflect on its significance. It is a Good Friday morning tradition for many Catholics still today. I’ve also read that a “Three Hours” service has become popular throughout the Americas as well. It began in the 17th century in Lima, Peru. It begins at noon and continues until 3pm, the hours that Jesus was actually on the cross.

Since the earliest days of Christianity, Good Friday has been an important day and observed with a somber reflection and meditation on the death of Christ. In some traditions bells are silenced, music is not played, and black is the color theme for the day. According to The Dictionary of Christianity in America, “Many Protestant churches also observe Good Friday with special services and memorial observances focusing on the crucifixion. Some schedule meditations on the ‘Seven Last Words’ from the cross or other Pascal themes. On Good Friday evening many churches observe the Lord’s Supper, while others use the Tenebrae service centered on the theme of light and darkness.”

Jesus’ last words from the cross have been the traditional subject of most Good Friday services that I can remember taking part in or watching. There were seven different statements that Jesus made as he hung on the cross. There are different opinions as to the actual order in which these were delivered but it makes sense to accept the traditional order: 1) “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). 2) “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). 3) “Woman behold your Son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26–27). 4) “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). 5) “I thirst” (John 19:28). 6) “It is finished” (John 19:30). And 7) “Father into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). While harmonizing the Gospel accounts we find that John records “It is finished” as the last words of Christ from the cross. But immediately follows up with “…and he bowed his head and surrendered His spirit.” The other three Gospels do not tell us that Jesus said “it is finished.” Instead, they report that Jesus died with a great shout on his lips (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46). I believe that the great shout and “it is finished” is one and the same thing! It was a shout of victory! All other religions in the world say, “do, do!!” But Jesus said in a loud voice “done, done!” It is finished!