Today is the day we commemorate Jesus’ trials and His crucifixion. It is called “Good Friday” not because it was a good day but because it celebrates the good that came after.
After Jesus and His disciples finished their Passover Supper they went to His favorite garden. Here He spends a LONG time in prayer. I’m thinking it was probably around three hours. The first time He came back and found His closest three disciples sleeping, He said, “What, you couldn’t watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). I have a feeling that the other two times He went to pray were probably as long.
I know I wouldn’t have been able to stay awake that long in prayer, unless I was extremely press by the Holy Spirit. I often even find myself falling asleep while writing my blog. I don’t know if it is an attack from Satan or just a peaceful time.
The garden was ANYTHING but peaceful for Jesus! If Peter, James and John had any idea of what was coming it wouldn’t have been peaceful for them either. I bet they slept very little for the next few days after their ‘nap’ in the garden.
Judas knew of Jesus’ favorite garden and he traded on that knowledge. Judas also had spent enough time with Jesus to know that He wouldn’t resort to violence. That’s why he brought men who would act violent with the slightest provocation. It’s a MIRACLE more swords were not unsheathed that night after Peter lopped off the high priest’s servant’s ear. This was however the beginning of the violence enacted against Jesus.
From the moment the guards took Jesus until He surrendered His Spirit, He had violence thrust upon Him. I wonder if Satan was trying to see what it took to rile Jesus enough for Him to lash out. He never once lifted a hand against any who abused Him. ONE time He responded directly to being struck in the face. He was being questioned by Annas about His teachings. He answered him in a manner the guard though was disrespectful and he struck Jesus in the face. Instead of bearing it in silence, Jesus verbally confronted the man. “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” (John 18:23). We don’t see the soldier answer Jesus back. Instead they continued on by sending Him to Caiaphas next.
SIX trials took place over the span of a few hours. Twice He was found innocent but He was sentenced to death just the same. For fear of the people being for Him He was taken in the night. And for fear of the people becoming and angry mob against Him He was crucified without cause.
I would like to know what it was that turned the masses against Him. Were they really turned or did the high priest ‘stack the deck’ with the audience before Pilot? Where were those who supported Jesus? Were they denied entrance? Were there more detractors than supporters? Jerusalem was teaming with people at the time. Maybe those who followed Him were outnumbered. Or maybe those who only followed for what they could gain from Him fell silent when they saw Him no longer in control. “Best not to be counted as one of His followers right now.”
With ALL the horrors that Jesus suffered that night and day, from the first binding of His hands to the last time He rose up on the nail in His feet for a breath, not once did He call for it to stop. He could have called down a thousand angles to set Him free. He could have called for fire from Heaven to consume His tormenters. He could have asked God to strike them dead where they stood. But he didn’t.
Jesus endured ALL man threw at Him. Just once He spoke up against His tormenters. He willingly walked the path His Father had laid out for Him. And He PRAYED FOR His abusers and accusers.
I was thinking about His prayer earlier. I’m wondering exactly who He was including in that prayer. Was He speaking only of the Roman soldiers who were following orders? Was He including those who walked by and mocked Him? Was He including the religious leaders? He pronounced sentence upon them earlier when they came against Him in Matthew 23. He also spoke of them being a “wicked generation” in Mark 11. Was He forgiving them too? They believed they knew what they were doing. They were ‘saving’ themselves and the ‘future of their people.’ Was He praying for Judas too?
ALL this evil would weigh heavily on Jesus followers for a few days. But when it was all over, this day would be the icon of GREAT JOY! Without the cross there would be no salvation. Without the cross there would be no resurrection. No remission of sins without the shedding of blood; HIS blood. THAT is why this is “Good Friday” because HE gave His blood for us, willingly!
Lord Jesus I have revisiting all You suffered. I wish there was some way I could lessen the impact on You but You chose the FULL measure. I KNOW I wouldn’t have survived it. I certainly wouldn’t have remained quiet! Help me to fully appreciate all that You did for me that day. Help me convey it well to others who are also searching for more meaning in this season. THANK YOU for ALL You have done for me! THANK YOU for forgiving me too on that day.
Previous Posts Reposted:
An Emotional Night – looks at the underlying emotions from the dinner table to before Caiaphas.
God’s Plan – looks at God’s plan for Jesus and His work from the rooster’s crow to His final cries.