Yesterday Pontius Pilate had released Jesus Barabbas and sent Jesus Christ to be crucified. Today the light will disappear.
After Jesus is sent off to be crucified, the Roman soldiers take him to the governor’s quarters and strip him of his clothes. To mock Jesus, the soldiers dress him in a scarlet robe and crown of thorns, and they put a reed cane in his right hand. Then they kneel down and said, “Hail, King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:27-29). Then the soldiers beat Jesus with the reed and spit in his face before dressing him again in his own clothes and taking him to be crucified (Matthew 27:30-31). The soldiers do not respect Jesus; to them, Jesus is a threat to the Roman Emperor by claiming to be the King of the Jews. What the soldiers do not understand is that Jesus claims to be a king of heaven, not on earth.
On the way to crucify Jesus, the soldiers make a man from Cyrene named Simon carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotha, the place of the skull (Matthew 27:32-33). Jesus is so weak; he can barely move his own body, let alone carry the cross beam. When I had MRSA this past summer, I felt incredibly weak from all of the antibiotics. I can only imagine how weak Jesus was after being beaten and how hard it was to walk to Golgotha.
The soldiers divide Jesus’ clothes and start bidding on it (Matthew 27:35). Then the soldier put a sign above Jesus on the cross charging him with being “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). They continue to mock Jesus, even as he is struggling to breathe. Jesus is on his last finger, not even his last leg, and all the soldiers do is mock him.
What is interesting is that the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and others) follow Jesus to the cross and tend to his needs (Matthew 27:55-56). When I had MRSA, my mom came over every night on her way home from work to make sure I had everything I needed. Even though Jesus’ disciples have scattered, the women—his caretakers—follow him as he travels to death. He is not alone, just as he abandons us.
On the same day, two other bandits are crucified with Jesus. The bandits and the chief priests mock Jesus. They are baffled by the fact that Jesus said he would destroy the temple and raise it up again in three days and yet he seemingly cannot save himself. They are expecting the building to fall, not Jesus.
Then there is the fact that Jesus calls himself the Son of God and the King of Israel, and yet he cannot save himself from death. He can save others and not himself. It does not make sense. Save yourself! Jesus calls out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus understands this is all part of God’s plan, but it does not make it any easier. Jesus is not only fully God, but also fully human; he is emotional; he wants to live.
When the individuals watching realize Jesus is calling for Elijah, one man grabs a sponge, soaks it with wine, and puts it on a stick to give him a drink (Matthew 27:48), while others want to see if Elijah would save him (Matthew 27:49). For individuals who claimed not to believe, they are sure holding out for a miracle.
Then Jesus cries out and breathes his last breath (Matthew 27:50). All their hope is gone. The one who called himself the Son of God dies. It is the end. Or is it?
At the same moment as Jesus dies, the curtain in the temple is torn in half, and the tombs of the dead saints open up and they enter the holy city (Matthew 27:51-52). There is an earthquake too. Everything important to the world is torn apart. The curtain protecting individuals from God is taken away. A change in theology is taking place. Individuals will not need the chief priests to speak to God on their behalf; now they can talk to God themselves.
After witnessing today’s events, the centurion says, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:54). Today’s events have made the centurion a believer. But is it too late?
You have probably experienced a Good Friday where hope seemed to have gone away. Maybe it was when you got in a fight with a dear friend, a spouse, a child, etc. Maybe you lost your job. My Good Friday was when I got divorced and had to reinvent myself as a single young lady. I was emotionally exhausted, physically weak, and spiritually lost. Over six years, I became a stranger to myself—dependent on an individual who only thought about himself. I had to find the parts of myself that I had lost during my marriage.
When it comes to your Good Friday moment, no matter the situation was, you thought your life would end.
But Easter, the Resurrection, is coming. Stay tuned…
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus accepting to do your will. Help us to travel to the cross with Jesus, just like the women did, to tend to the needs of the world. Remind us we are never alone, even when the light disappears. Thank you for the promise of new life. Amen.
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
- What part of Good Friday gets to you the most?
- Where are you in the Good Friday events?
- How have you experienced a Good Friday?