We remember today as Good Friday because when we look back, we remember what Jesus did for us on this day, but on the day around 2000 years ago, there was nothing good about it. It was a horrendous day for Jesus and all who watched on. From the moment he was arrested he wouldn’t sleep until he died on the cross. It was late at night when the arrest happened and then he was taken to be questioned by the religious leaders at Annas’s house, and then Caiaphas’s house all under the cover of darkness and all completely against the law!
READ MARK 14:53-15:47 (also in Matthew 26:57-27:61, LUKE 22:54-23:56, JOHN 18:12-19:42)
It is interesting the bible notes that although all the disciples scattered, Peter was the only one who followed at a distance and came right into the courtyard of Caiaphas’s house. It was still the early hours of the morning so he probably thought he wouldn’t be noticed but then the servant girl recognised him, and he got out of there as quick as he could. Two more times he denies Jesus before the rooster crows and he is reminded of Jesus words. I can just imagine in that moment his heart sinking as he realises what he has done, and the feeling of failing as he breaks down and cries. We can be so like Peter and feel like we have failed Jesus, and yes, we might even break down and cry too, but that doesn’t stop Peter getting back up in the months and years to follow and do amazing things for God. When we realise we have done something to fail Jesus, we need to pray and ask him for his forgiveness but then claim the promise that he will remember our sins no more, and get up and go out in the power of his Spirit to live and speak for him.
After Jesus many unfair trials before the religious leaders who just wanted Jesus dead no matter what was said, and trials before Herod and Pilate the crowd pleaser, Pilate ordered that Jesus be flogged. As this still wasn’t enough for the crowds, he sentenced him to death by crucifixion, and the soldiers took great delight in carrying out these orders. They even took Jesus to their headquarters so they could mock him, spit on him, punch him in the face, kick him and to top it all off put a crown of thorns on his head and beat it so the huge thorns penetrated through his skin. This was just cruel, and purely for their own twisted amusement but it meant Jesus, who was already tired and weak, was brought almost to the point of collapse before he even reached the cross. I think this is why he couldn’t carry his cross the whole way as the criminals were expected to do.
We probably all know the physical and emotional torment that Jesus was in as he hung on the cross but do we consider that the worst torment of all was the spiritual torment. Jesus had always walked in the presence of his Father God, everything he did, everywhere he went, but now he was experienced what it is like to be separated from his Father. We don’t know how long that lasted but we know that even if had only been a few seconds, it would have been the most agonising thing he ever faced. This separation is what he dreaded as he prayed in Gethsemane and it was this cup of suffering that he pleaded for any other way to be carried out other than him having to go through it. It maybe gives us a glimpse of what Jesus was feeling but I don’t think we can ever fully comprehend what it meant for him. Being separated from his Father was the worst punishment anyone could have ever put on him. It speaks to us of what we should feel if we are to be separated from God for eternity, by not accepting all that Jesus went through, and facing the worst punishment imaginable. I believe this will be the worst punishment of hell. Yes, the physical and emotional will be bad too but the punishment of knowing that we rejected God and God removing his presence from us, isn’t even worth thinking about. As Jesus breathes his last, he quotes Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” but its not a question, it’s an expression of his deep agony in taking on himself the sin of the world, and this is expressed further in the prophecy of Psalm 22. Please take time to read it if you can and see all the prophecies in it fulfilled in Jesus death.
Jesus had been put on the cross at 9am and at noon darkness covered the land until 3pm when he breathed his last. At that instant there was an earthquake, the temple curtain which sealed off the Holy of Holy’s was ripped open, and Matthew records how Godly men and women were raised from the dead and seen by many in the city. These were not normal things and anybody in their right mind seeing these things surely would have known that these were miraculous. The Roman Centurion obviously thought so, and as he watched Jesus die, he realised that he really was who he said he was, he really was the Son of God. Would that have been our response? Is that our response as we stand before his cross figuratively speaking today? Do we believe all that Jesus went through for us to be set free from our sin? So that we could have a relationship with God the Father, being called his children and loved by him. Jesus paid it all and took all our sin on himself. What will you say to him today? Will you give him your life and follow him?