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Holy Week: Good Friday

Good Friday is not Good Friday because of what happened to Jesus, but because of what he endured on our behalf. “God made him who had not sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Yesterday we left off with Jesus being arrested and taken to Annas. Annas is technically the High Priest according the Law of the Jews. However he is no longer recognized by Rome as High Priest because they appointed Caiaphas, Annas’ son-in-law, to be High Priest because he was easier for the Romans to deal with. But the chief priests and elders of the people took him to Annas first as their High Priest.

Early in the morning on Friday, probably just after midnight, Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

Jesus responded, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

One of the officials nearby struck Jesus and said to him, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

The Trial by his People

Annas then sent Jesus to Caiaphas. All the chief priests, elders and teacher of the law came together, well most all, the ones who wanted to do away with Jesus anyway, for there were others that supported Jesus that were not invited. This was the biggest kangaroo trial of all time.

They were looking for evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death, but did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. According to the Law, there had to be two witnesses that had the same testimony in order for a man to be put to death. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

While Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin, which was the assembly of all the leaders, Peter and John followed at a distance and got to the gate of the courtyard of the high priest. John was a friend of the family of the high priest and was able to get them into the courtyard. As Peter was allowed in the gate the servant girl asked him, “You are one of his disciples are you not?”

Peter answered, “I am not.”

John was able to go into the hearing but Peter remained outside by the fire with the guards warming himself.

While Jesus was being questioned he remained silent, even against the false testimony to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 53. The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you” But Jesus remained silent still.

“I charge you under oath by the living God; tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” the high priest said.

Jesus said, “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest then tore his clothes and proclaimed, “He has spoke blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

The mob then spit in his face, struck him with their fists and other slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”

As Peter was standing by the fire about an hour later he was again asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”

Peter denied it, saying, “I am not.”

Then one of the high priests servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?”

Again Peter denied it, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” At that moment a rooster crowed and Peter remembered the words of the Lord the night before. He went out of the courtyard and wept bitterly over what he had done.

Another disciple who was nearby listened to the Sanhedrin and heard their verdict to put Jesus to death, Judas Iscariot. As Judas saw that Jesus was condemned to death he was seized with remorse. He took the thirty pieces of silver he had been paid to the chief priests and elders and said, “I have sinned, for I betrayed innocent blood.”

Judas felt remorse over his sin and tried to make it right. He knew what he had done was wrong and it turned out not at all like he had envisioned. Jesus, the messiah, the savior of the world, was going to be put to death. He thought Jesus would overcome the Romans and restore Israel to the nation of the Lord as it had originally been. But that is not what Jesus had come to do.

“What is it to us?” the chief priests replied. So Judas threw the silver into the temple and left. He then went away and hanged himself.

Knowing that the money was blood money they couldn’t put it back into the temple treasury. Instead they bought the potter’s field and used it as a burial ground for foreigners and has been called the field of blood to this day. This also fulfilled the words spoken by Jeremiah the prophet “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Judas recognized his sin and had remorse over it, but the one thing he lacked was returning to God and asking for forgiveness. Judas obviously believed Jesus to be a prophet, he believed him to be the promised Messiah, he lacked saving faith because he did not see what Jesus came to save him from. Is this you? Do you believe there is a God? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? That’s great! But the demons believe this also – and shudder (James 2:19). You have to do more than just believe that God and Jesus exists, you have to rely on him, cling to him, trust in him for all things as the source of life (John 3).

The Trial before the Romans

After leaving the Sanhedrin Jesus was taken to Pilate, the governor of Judea. “What charges are you bringing against this man?” Pilate asked.

“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have brought to you.”

“Take him yourselves then and judge him by your own law.” Pilate said in an attempt to stay out of their religious matters.

“But we have no right to execute anyone under your law,” the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus has spoken indicating the king of death he was going to die would be fulfilled and so the scriptures in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 would be fulfilled.

Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked and then went out to talk to the Jews again. “I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The chief priests and the elders had all sorts of accusations against him saying, “We have found this man stirring up trouble all over Judea, he started in Galilee and has come all the way down here. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”

“Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” Pilate asked. But Jesus remained silent. This amazed Pilate greatly.

Seeing Jesus was from Galilee and knowing Herod was in Jerusalem Pilate sent Jesus to Herod so he wouldn’t have to deal with this trivial matter. Herod was pleased to see Jesus as he had heard all sorts of things about him. Herod wanted to see a miracle performed by Jesus or hear his sharp tongue, but Jesus remained silent so Herod was bored with him and send Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate in an attempt to free Jesus as he believed he was innocent of any wrongdoing went to the Jews, “It is customary for me to release a prisoner to you during your Feast. Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” Pilate knew it was out of envy that the chief priest had handed Jesus over to him.

The chief priests stirred up the crowd to cry, “No give us Barabbas!” Barabbas was a murder and leader of rebellion who was nothing but a trouble maker for both the Jews and the Romans.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But the crowd just continued to cry, “Crucify him!”

Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus scourged in hopes to satisfy the Jews. The soldiers who were scourging Jesus were professionals in this practice. It is extremely brutal and many times the man died before it was finished. The soldiers knew his charges as king of the Jews so they mocked him as he was being scourged and it was both physically and mentally abusive. This is when he was given the crown of thorns and the purple robe, which they ripped off his mangled body repeatedly opening his wounds.

Pilate once more appealed to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”

Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe and Pilate said, “Here is the man!”

The crowd shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

Seeing he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

The Jews answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

The Crucifixion

Photo courtesy of Stephen Mansfield

Jesus was handed over to be crucified. He was forced to carry his own cross but was unable as he was so weak from the scourging. A man named Simon from Cyrene was pulled from the crowd and forced to carry the cross for Jesus.

Once they reached the place of Golgotha, The Place of the Skull, Jesus was offered wine to drink that had been mixed with gall. He took one sip and spit it out refusing anymore. The gall was given to help ease the pain of crucifixion, if that was at all possible. Jesus refused it as he was ready to face the full force of his execution.

As they were nailing him to the cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do now know what they are doing.”

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. The Jews read this sign and protested that he was not their king but claimed to be their king. Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written.”

The soldiers who crucified Jesus divided his clothing among them but when they came to the undergarment they saw that it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture could be fulfilled found in Psalm 22.

Jesus was crucified with two others, one on each side. They were criminals, again fulfilling the scriptures in Isaiah 53.

As Jesus hung on the cross, writhing in agony and pain he said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many believe that God turned his back on Jesus at this time, but Jesus was God. What took place within the last 24 hours of his life was all to fulfill Psalm 22, which opens with those same words Jesus just quoted.

At the time of his death he cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up his spirit and was dead. Because of the Feast and celebration going on the Jews did not want the criminals, Jesus included, to remain hanging on the crosses. The soldiers then went to the other two and broke their legs to hasten their deaths, but when they came to Jesus they found him already dead and instead pierced his side with a spear, again to fulfill the prophecy found in Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10.

At this the whole creation groaned for the death of their creator. The sun did not shine for three hours and there was a great earthquake. The veil in the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn as it was no longer needed. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice of his own life there was nothing that kept man from God.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. With permission, he and Nicodemus came and took his body away. They quickly prepared his body for burial as it was nearing the Sabbath. They wrapped it with spices and strips of linen according to the Jewish customs. They laid Jesus in Joseph’s tomb as it was nearby.

The women who had come to Jerusalem with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw where he had laid Jesus’ body. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes, but rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandments.

What Jesus did on this day some 2000 years ago was the greatest thing anyone can do for another, he laid down his own life for others to have life. We are to live by the example of Christ. It is easy to do that while he lived, but then he died, and yet, the best is yet to come.

Blessings, Greta