The great sacrifice has been offered. Since God the Father does not regard the world as being material or spiritual but sees all creation through His Son, and since mankind fell into the slavery of nature, of that which was corruptible – of death, the Son of God was incarnated and lived an earthly life in human body, only in the end to die a martyr’s death on the cross – so that He may rise, resurrect human nature from the grave, and open the path to eternal life for men.
He suffered crucifixion and yet He was the only One without sin, and He was sent off to the cross with shouts ‘Crucify him!’ Christ was crucified ‘under Pontius Pilate’, but He is crucified again and again with every sin we ourselves commit. On the occasion of Great Friday the Church marks each moment in the event of salvation of the world with services.
Time of Savior’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and His sentencing by archpriests and elders to suffer death is marked with matins.
Celebrating the first hour marks time when Savior was on his way to be judged by Pilate; time of His sentencing by Pilate is marked by the third hour; time of His suffering on the cross is remembered by the sixth hour; and taking down of Christ’s body from the cross with evening service (it is then that the Shroud is brought out to the center of the church so that the faithful could venerate the image of the dead Lord depicted on it).
On Great Friday hours are being celebrated in following order: first, sixth, ninth, and they are called Imperial Hours since Byzantine emperors always attended them at church.