Today is day 5 of the Holy week and Good Friday. I hope that you’re enjoying the series and hope even more that you’re getting something out of it.
Please welcome Vicki back as she takes us through what Good Friday is and what it’s all about to Christians around the world.
On this day which Christians call Good Friday, let us look at the events between the dinner Jesus shared with His disciples and His crucifixion. After Jesus sent Judas Iscariot on his way and the Passover meal was completed, the remaining group made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane—where they often met together according to John 18:2. That is significant because Judas was going to the Jewish leaders, collecting his 30-pieces-of-silver for betraying Jesus and then telling them where ‘the Troublemaker’ could be found because of a pattern He established for praying there.
As Jesus prayed alone and at a distance from even John, James and Peter—His inner circle—He asked His Father if there was any other way for the redemption of the human race to come about. Drops of sweat-blood, which poured from His head, punctuated each prayer. As a man, Jesus felt every panic and fear you and I would feel in the same situation. He earnestly prayed for another way but followed that prayer with these words: “…if this cannot pass away unless I drink it (the cup of God’s wrath on sinful man), Thy will be done.” Jesus had perfectly fulfilled every mission God sent Him on… but now; this final step enveloped Him in abject terror. Nevertheless… the journey, which began at His birth in Bethlehem, would end in His death.
Judas along with Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers arrived in the evening darkness at Gethsemane; and according to a pre-determined sign, the traitor walked to Jesus, kissed Him and betrayed Him into enemy hands. Jesus had taught every day in the public square, and if guilty of a crime could have been arrested in daylight. Instead, fearing the growing number of disciples of Christ, they arrested Him in darkness and thought to deal quickly and cleanly with His trial before His followers knew what had taken place. Jesus was brought and tried in a ‘kangaroo court’ with false accusers giving testimony, horrible beatings, painful humiliations and a sentence of death.
During those agonizing hours, Peter denied Jesus three times (as prophesied), the apostles scattered in fear and Judas regretted his betrayal and attempted to return the money he had been paid. When his evil couldn’t be undone, Judas Iscariot went and hanged himself—leaving no hope of reconciliation between betrayer and the betrayed. The people who had worshipped and shouted, “Hosanna!” as Jesus entered into Jerusalem just days before… now began to join in the chant of the Jewish leadership. “Hosanna” changed to “Crucify Him!” as Jesus continued on His journey to reconcile undeserving man to his Creator. Beaten beyond recognition, Jesus began the long walk through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha where He was to be crucified.
The information regarding the crucifixion—and the physical manifestations of what this barbaric Roman form of torture and death involved—are too many for me to write here. I will leave you to do your own research on the horrors of crucifixion but will say that arms and feet were nailed in place on the crosspiece and upright of the cross. Gravity pulled the body down below the arms and the crucified had to push up on those nail pierced feet, take a breath and continue to do so until they suffocated. Those who didn’t die within a matter of hours had their knees broken to stop the pushing-up process. No one survived crucifixion; and the convicted often didn’t make it to the actual nailing because they died from the unrelenting beatings and dehydration before that point. Read Psalm 22 for just a glimpse of what Jesus suffered—on a day we call Good Friday!
From the cross and through that nightmare Jesus did what He always did… He ministered to the needs of others. Seeing the Apostle John near His grieving and horrified mother, Jesus encouraged them to care for one another. One of the men crucified at His side confessed that he was a sinner deserving the punishment he was receiving for all the evil of his life. He also could see that Jesus was indeed a man falsely accused and undeserving of His sentence. Jesus, hearing repentance and faith—promised that man eternity with Him. The Centurion (Roman soldier in charge of 100 men) watched the events—as he likely had watched many crucifixions before. Yet this time was different. Jesus didn’t shout out or curse at His killers. He refused gall to deaden His pain. He quietly listened to His detractors. That Centurion was left to understand that Jesus was “…indeed a righteous man.”
Jesus died that day after saying, “IT IS FINISHED!” What did those words mean? Every single thing God sent Him to do was done. He became the final sacrifice for our sins. He did what lambs, rams and bulls could never do. He offered man-flesh and man-blood for man-sin! Jesus took every sin ever committed before His birth and after His birth upon His body. He took the lashes we deserve. He received what we justly merited punishment for. Jesus tore apart the heavy impenetrable veil separating a Holy God from Sinful Man. Jesus became the Substitutionary-Atonement for us. What a gift! What a blessing! What love!
And that is why we call this day, Good Friday!
SCRIPTURE: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (Written by the Prophet 700 years before Jesus’ birth.)