Tonight, is Good Friday. It is a somber night. It is a dark night. It is the night we reflect on the death of Jesus Christ and the cross of Calvary. This doesn’t sound so good, does it? So, why do we call it Good Friday? It is called good in that it is a holy night, because this is the night Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins as the sacrificial Lamb of God. It is the Good news that our savior willingly died so that we may have life. Good Friday is indeed a good Friday for us, but it was a gruesome Friday for our Savior.
Tonight, we will spend our time together recounting the events that led to the cross of Calvary. We begin at the governor’s headquarters where the Roman Governor Pilate meets Jesus Nazareth and hears the case of the religious leaders against Jesus Christ. He tells the Jews, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” To which the Jews demanded NO! Crucify Him!
John 19:1 – 16
I find it interesting in this account that Pilate finds no fault in Jesus, yet he caves into the wishes of the mob. The flogging Jesus faced was probably done to try and appease the masses; however, they would not be satisfied with a token beating; they wanted death. Some had even thought that bringing Jesus out to the people in his robe and crown of thorns that the crowd would think he was punished sufficiently.
When he failed to convince the Jews, he tells them to take him and crucify him, but he knew they could not because Jews were forbidden to crucify. Instead, they brought up the law and one of Pilate’s jobs was to maintain the law and keep the peace among the people. Failure to do so could end badly for Pilate.
Pilate takes Jesus into the Praetorium and questions him. Pilate tells Jesus he has the power to set Him free, yet Jesus informs him that he has no power over him whatsoever. Pilate must sentence Jesus to death in order for Jesus to accomplish his purpose.
John 19:17 – 27
The death of Jesus is graphic and gruesome. Many of you have either seen movies, read books or imagined what this horrific night was like, but I do not think we can fathom what happened at all. The death Jesus suffered was painful, humiliating and violent, yet it was necessary in order to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
The Death of Jesus
As Jesus hung on the cross for what seemed an eternity the dreadful event concludes with what the Gospel of John are the final two statements Jesus made. The first a personal need, “I thirst” and the second is a declaration of completion of the task, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus has accomplished what he came to do. The law has been fulfilled, redemption has been made, the cross of Calvary has been atoned for.
Through Jesus’ death humanity can have now have peace with God. He has bore the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
Piercing the Side
The Sabbath before Passover (which was a high celebration and certainly significant that Jesus was crucified at this time) was drawing near and the process of death needed to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. Basically, they wanted to get this over so they could go ahead and get to the Passover celebration. Of course, we know Jesus had already given up his spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break his legs (to fulfill prophecy). In order to ensure he was in fact dead the Roman soldier pierced his side. Blood and water poured from his side. The blood and water were certainly significant to John and there are many theories on why he put it in this account, but in fact it was written to show that Jesus did in fact die a normal human death.
Once Jesus was dead Joseph and Nicodemus asked to take the body of Jesus so they could bury him. It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was just thrown in a common grave. The fact that Pilate allowed this shows he must have had influence. They placed him in a tomb and bound his body with linens and spices and left his lifeless body in the tomb.
We all know the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ ultimately establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity.
It is important that we understand, everything Jesus did on this earth was for a higher purpose and one the people of his time had difficulty understanding. He took the world by storm and exposed the religiously pious leaders of their errors and showed the public the true meaning of what it means to be a child of God. For us, we are truly the beneficiaries of the completed work Jesus has done on the cross. We know that by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus anyone who believes, trusts and obeys his commands have been given the true grace of life everlasting (This is the Good News, this is the Gospel). Eternal life is available to ALL who believe and obey Jesus and put their trust and faith in Him regardless of race, gender, or social status. God established a new way through Jesus Christ that does not depend on works and legalism but instead is evidenced through good works. Our relationship with God is not based on the sacrifice of animals but on the sacrifice of the Lamb. This new way promotes freedom through submission. It upholds living through dying. It endorses loving all. It demands faith in God instead of faith in humans or circumstances. This way is available to us because Jesus willingly gave himself up to die on the cross so we could be made right with God.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.