Passion Week: Good Friday

We call it “Good Friday.” It was humans who assigned this term to the event. That is significant because it is “good” for us; it was not “good” for Jesus or for God.
The events of the day began while it was yet night in the wee hours of the morning. Jesus first needed to endure six separate trials. After Jesus was bound in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was led to his preliminary hearing before Annas (first trial) the high priest (John 18:13-14). Annas was looking for an accusation that could help him bide his time until the Sanhedrin could gather. It was while Jesus was before Annas that Peter denied Jesus the first time (John 18: 15-18). Annas sent Jesus directly to his second trial before Caiaphas the high priest (John 18:24), where Peter’s second denial took place (John 18:25-27). Jesus’ third trial was before the Sanhedrin immediately at dawn (Luke 22:66-71). It was here that upon questioning Jesus admitted the absolute truth that he was the Son of God and was accused of blasphemy (Luke 22:70-71). This was where Peter’s third denial of Jesus took place and Peter then went out and wept bitterly (Mark 14:66-72).  In these series of three religious trials, we see that no bastion of sacredness is too sacred for ungodly men to manipulate to accomplish their purposes.
Jesus was then led to his first trial (fourth trial for Jesus) before Pilate (John 18:28-38). It was here that Jesus admitted that he was a King who was come to bear truth (John 18:37). The trial concluded with Pilate noting that he found no fault in Jesus (John 18:38) and Pilate then sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:6-7). Jesus then went before Herod (fifth trial) who was very glad to see Jesus and wished for Jesus to perform some miracle for him (Luke 23:8), but Jesus refused to answer Herod (Luke 23:9). It was here that Herod and “his men of war” (Luke 23:11) mocked Jesus, putting upon him the kingly robe (Luke 23:11). Herod then send Jesus back to Pilate for his sixth and final trial (Luke 23:11-12).
It was here during the second trial in the courts of Pilate that the fate of Jesus was determined and the fate of Satan and sin was determined to be shattered. At this second trial, Pilate first declared Jesus to be innocent (Luke 23:13-16), to which the crucifixion of Jesus was demanded (Luke 23:17-22). Though Pilate’s wife tried to intervene, Jesus was sentenced to be crucified and Barabbas was set free (Luke 23:25). After this, Jesus was scourged, had the crown of thorns put on his head, the reed in his hand, and was mocked by the soldiers (Matt 27:26-31).

The forces of salvation then settled, Jesus began to walk the road to Golgotha accompanied by many people and women (Luke 23:26-32). Arriving at Golgotha, Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh which he refuses (Mark 15:23). The time is about 9 AM. The terrible deed is performed.

The patibulum (crossbeam) of the cross is laid upon the ground, and Jesus’ body is thrust rudely onto it. The legionnaire feels quickly for the depression on the side of Jesus’ wrist and then with several quick strokes drives a square, large, rusty nail through that depression into the wood. Quickly, the legionnaire moves to the other side and does the same.  The patibulum is then raised and fastened into place at the top of the stipes (main post). Then Jesus’s feet are drawn up beside each other on the stipes and with the feet fully extended, a nail is driven directly through the arch of each foot. Jesus can find no place of comfort upon the cross. If he hangs down, he cannot expand his rib cage to breathe. When he pushes himself up with his feet, the pangs of the nails surge through his feet. Jesus must push himself up with his feet to get oxygen. If he does not push himself up to get oxygen, his body will go into a process known as hypercapnia. It is during these times when he can get a few breaths that Jesus pronounces his famous statements upon the cross. ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). Jesus converses with the repentant sinner crucified with him (Luke 23:43). He speaks to his mother (John 19:26-27). From 12 noon to 3 pm it is dark over all the land (Luke 23:44-46). At 3 pm, Jesus utters the famous words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” (Matt 27:46).  After this, Jesus utters the heart-rending words, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:44-46). Jesus’ final words upon the cross are, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The veil of the temple is rent (Luke 23:44-46), the earthquake occurs (Matt 27:51), and the dead are resurrected (Matt 27:52-53). Never has so much occurred in six short hours.

The soldiers break the legs of the criminals (John 19:32) and thrust the spear through Jesus’s side (John 19:33-34). Sometime later that evening, Joseph of Arimathae begs the body of Jesus, wraps it in linen, and lays it in the sepulcher (Luke 22:50-55). The stone is rolled before the tomb (Matt 27:60). After this, yet that evening, the women prepared spices and ointments to anoint Jesus’ body (Luke 23:56).
The gloom that has settled upon Jerusalem, upon Jesus’s disciples is palpable. Not only is their Lord dead, they are at risk. They have openly associated with this man of Galilee and their association is well known. The man whom they trusted to be a Godly man, the one who would deliver Israel has just been tried by the very religious entity of which they are a part, has been found guilty, and has been given the sentence extended to the worst of criminals. This fear and realization is mixed with their love for Jesus, and their anguish at his death. The one emotion that is greater than the anguish of the death of a loved one is fear for one’s own life. It is difficult to imagine a scene in which more emotion would swirl through an individual. And though the disciples may faintly remember the words “I shall rise again”, they must dismiss those words because even though Jesus raised others from the dead, the Source of the raising himself is now dead.

And then, we must briefly consider the courts of Heaven. Can you imagine? God has not simply lost his Son. God has lost his Son by His own doing, for the purpose of a curse that he intensely hates. Can you imagine a worse combination? The death of a loved one is intense. A death by one’s own doing for a curse that you yourself intensely hate is unimaginable. And yet that is precisely what God is going through right now.  The courts of heaven are silent. God’s face is turned away from his Son who is dead in the bowels of the earth. No darker hour has ever existed.

Today, there are no Hallelujahs. Though I would enjoy delving into an analysis of this entire event that could stimulate our thoughts, I find it inappropriate and so I will not. Even silence is not fitting. All that is fitting is sorrow. Sorrow from the depths of my heart and your heart. Sorrow for what Jesus went through. Sorrow for what God went through. Sorrow that it was my sin that caused it all. Sorrow.

Blessing to you as you Sorrow.

Author: Curvin Gordon