Passion Week: Good Friday

Jesus is beaten and bloody 
As we went to bed last night, Jesus would have just been taken captive in the garden. This morning we are awakened by the shouts of a crowd.  Quickly we arise, get dressed and scurry down to the center of the old town to see what is going on.  Here we find a lot has happened during our hours of slumber.  The man we had seen praying in the garden last night now has His hands bound.  His clothing torn and His face battered and bloody. His eyes are so swollen He is hardly recognizable.  

We can now make out the cries of the crowd to be a death chant, "Crucify! Crucify!"  The disciples are nowhere to be found and one of them, Judas, is now dead, hanging from a tree just outside of town.  

Unbeknownst to most of Jerusalem, Jesus has been paraded around the city during the night to a series of kangaroo courts that attempt to condemn Him to death.  At one point Jesus, who has now been separated from His disciples for several hours, is standing in the court yard of the high priest. The dawn is now fast approaching and our exhausted Christ is weary and beaten.
  
Peter denies Jesus for the third time
Suddenly, in the mist of the chaos Jesus hears a rooster crowing.  He immediately turns and looks over His shoulder, locking eyes with a single person in the large crowd.  It is Peter.  When Peter notices Jesus is looking at him, his expression changes to that of pure horror.  He melts to tears and runs from the area as he realizes, just as Jesus had predicted, that he had just denied Jesus for the third time.

Jesus is tortured by the cat of nine tails 
As sunlight begins to break over the ancient city of Jerusalem, Jesus is led back to Pilate.  Pilate has very little desire to have anything done with Jesus as he is unable to find any guilt in the man.  In an attempt to satisfy the crowd, Pilate sends Jesus off to be scourged, in hopes it will suffice the hostile audience.  

During this process, Jesus is whipped with a "cat of nine tails" a whip of nine strands held by a single handle.  Braided into this whip are pieces of jagged bone and metal, designed to literally tear the flesh from the body.  History shows that most people who endured scourging normally died anyway from the trauma of the event.  After this, it is quite likely that parts of Jesus' rib cage would have been exposed as His flesh was sliced open as result of the severity of this practice.  

Pilate's predicament
After this terrible torture, the people are still not satisfied.  As a last ditch attempt to free Jesus, and thus save his own political skin, Pilate falls back on a tradition he has with the Jews of releasing a single prisoner at the time of Passover.  He intentionally picks out the worst man he can think of, a violent rebel named Barabbas, a man he is sure the Jews will want to remain in custody.  Pilate gives the people the option of either Jesus or Barabbas.  The plan backfires when they unbelievably choose Barabbas.

Pilate is now caught in an odd predicament.  Although history shows him to have been a rather cut throat individual, he has been instructed by Rome to keep things under control in the remote outpost of Jerusalem.  If he supports the killing of Jesus, he will be condemning a man he knows is innocent which will not fare well.  If he sets Jesus free he runs the risk of a complete riot which could cost him his position.  On top of all of this, his wife has come to him and told him of a troubling dream she had about Jesus and warns him to have nothing to do with this situation.  In an attempt to relieve himself of all responsibility, Pilate washes his hands of the situation and tells the Jews to do what they wish with Jesus. They call for him to be crucified. 

Jesus carries his cross and is crucified  
Sometime around 8 a.m., Jesus is led to a hill just outside the west wall of the town known as the skull.  By this time He can barely even stand as a result of the brutal treatment He has endured.  He is suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, blood loss, and indescribable pain.  His condition is so poor that a man from the crowd is selected to carry the cross beam of Jesus' cross for him.  

Once at the hill, about 9 a.m., Jesus' arms are nailed through his wrists to the cross beam.  The cross beam is then hoisted up onto a larger stake that has been driven into the ground.  When this action occurs, Jesus is pulled up from the ground by His arms that have been nailed to the wood.  This act more than likely dislocates both shoulders and possibly His elbows.  Jesus, now dangling by His arms, then has His feet nailed to the vertical stake that the crossbeam is now attached to.  He will spend the next six hours in this position.

It is finished
As we go through our daily routines today, lets remember that from about 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Jesus was suffering on the cross.  During these hours of torment, Jesus still finds the love in His heart to ask God to forgive us for what we did to Him.  As the 3 p.m. hour draws near, Jesus' mouth is so dry He can't even speak.  A rag, soaked with vinegar wine, is then raise up to Him on a stick so He can wet His mouth enough to call out some of His final words.  "IT IS FINISHED!"  


These words were known as a victory cry in this time period.  The phrase was often called out at the conclusions of battles.  Jesus had been victorious. He had spent 33 years on this Earth living a perfect life and in spite of His desires, at times, to walk away from this responsibility He stayed true to the cause.

Quick work is now made to get Jesus off of the cross and buried prior to sunset as the Sabbath begins.  Tonight as we are settling down with our families, let's remember the hopelessness the disciples and followers of Christ must have felt that night.  They had just poured the last three years of their lives into a man who was supposed to be the one that would save them from their oppressors.  As sun sets to the west, a blood moon rises to the east.  All hope, all joy, everything is now gone.  The so called "savior" is dead.  

Matthew ch. 27, Mark ch. 15, Luke ch. 22:54- 23:56, John 18:25- 19:42


Comments

  1. So moving. Thank you for doing this. Add the veil--it was destroyed so that we could be face to face with God!

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