Holy Week: Good Friday
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each believer tries to understand what it cost Jesus to win our redemption. Across denominations there are many traditions observed on this day. Good Friday is not a day of celebration but of mourning, both for the death of Jesus and for the sins of the world which His death represents.
It is Friday morning and we see the transfer of Jesus from the Jewish to the Roman authorities. There are several events that take place on this Good Friday.
- Jesus’ sentencing by the Jews (Matthew 27:1-2)
- Judas’ death (Matthew 27:3-10)
- Jesus’ sentencing by the Romans (Matthew 27:11-26)
- The mocking of the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31)
- Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-44)
- Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:45-56)
- Jesus’ burial (Matthew 27:57-61)
- The guard placed at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-64)
The temple guards, led by Judas, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Following His arrest Jesus is brought to Caiaphas, the high priest where the Sanhedrin had assembled. He is interrogated and the high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy and the Sanhedrin agrees on the death sentence. The Jews did not have the right to execute capital offenders under Roman Law. (John 18:31) In the morning the Jewish leaders bring Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
Judas has an apparent change of heart. He is “seized with remorse”. Judas does acknowledge his sin and Jesus’ innocence, but he does not demonstrate the mark of genuine repentance— appropriate corrective action. He confesses to the wrong group of people and then simply gives up on life. Judas tries to return the money the Jewish leaders paid him, but they have no interest in dealing with the matter further. He responds in anger, throws the money on the floor and goes out and kills himself.
Pilate’s only concern is whether or not Jesus has broken Roman law. He asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responds simply, “It is as you say.” While being accused by the Jewish leaders, He did not answer. Then Pilate questions Him and He does not answer even one single charge and Pilate was amazed. Pilate proclaims there is no basis for sentencing and he refers Jesus to King Herod who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus and receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the Jewish leaders neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate has Jesus whipped.
Pilate offers to release a Jewish prisoner. Directed by the chief priests the crowds ask for Barabbas. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they shout “Crucify him”. Pilate’s wife has a dream and warns him to “have nothing to do with this righteous man.” Pilate declares Jesus innocent and washes his own hands as a sign he has no part in this condemnation. However, in order to prevent a riot and ultimately to keep his job, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus carries His cross to the site of the execution. There He is crucified (nailed to a cross) along with two criminals. Pilate has Jesus’ crime posted on the cross, above Christ’s head, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours and during His last three hours darkness fall over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gives up His spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion guard declared “Truly this was God’s Son!”
Pilate requested confirmation from the centurion that Jesus was dead, a soldier pierced the side of Jesus causing blood and water to flow out. The centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to His condemnation, requests the body from Pilate. He and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved out of a rock in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They rolled a large rock over the entrance to the tomb. Then they returned home and rested, because the Sabbath had begun at sunset.
Although Friday is a solemn time, it is not without its own joy. For while it is important to place the Resurrection against the darkness of Good Friday, the gravity of Good Friday should always be seen with the hope of Resurrection Sunday. As several have titled their sermons and written songs: “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”
- Matthew 27:1-66
- Mark 15:16-16:19
- Luke 23:26-24:35
- John 19:16-20:30