As I sat reflecting upon in solitude and then sharing with my family the events of Christ’s crucifixion on what we call “Good Friday,” my thoughts churned out emotions that poured from my heart.
As a family we read from 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul lays out the simplicity of the Gospel: 1) of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 2) that he was buried, 3) that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
If we add to or take away from the above, we’ve wandered into Heresy and God regards the Gospel with utmost since
And solidify the veracity of this Gospel Paul reminds us “he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive.” There are witnesses to this account reading Paul’s letter that would’ve corrected the claim if false. “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles… Last of all…he appeared also to me.”
It’s easy to read that and start checking intellectual boxes. And Paul kept reminding the reading “According to the Scripture,” all alluding to the Old Testament scripture given to Moses through Malachi – hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Check. (For further reading check out Isaiah 7, 9, and 52-53, Daniel 9, Psalm 22, just to scratch the surface.)
But again, all head knowledge. Even the people living in the day of Christ didn’t recognize his arrival based on these passages, and those who did (the Sanhedrin) were so jealous to retain their own power and standing they were willing to crush the God of Glory to save themselves. (By the way, according to Isaiah 52-53 we acknowledge this was God through the hand of men doing the crushing.)
Then we switched over to Mark 14 and 15 to get to the heart of the matter. Jesus was betrayed and brought before the council where they began to spit on him and hit him in the face in this nasty routine called “Hot hand” all the while yelling “Prophesy!” Mark omits Jesus’ being brought before Herod, who wanted to see a magic trick.
Starting in Mark 15 Jesus was brought before Pilate where he asks Jesus “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus cryptically answers “You have said so” (effectively Yes) and then Pilate tells Jesus he has the power to release him. From the Gospel of John, Jesus schooled him:
John 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
Then Pilate tells the crowd he sees nothing wrong is Jesus. He’s guilty of nothing. He set about to gain Jesus’ release knowing it was “out of envy that the Chief Priests had delivered him up.” (Mark 15:10) As a Passover feast practice, he would offer to release a prisoner back to the Jews. Pilate thought “A-ha!, Barabbas.” Charles Manson of 33 A.D. I’m sure he thought they would never accept an insurrectionist, a murderer for release over Jesus. The Jewish leaders stirred up the crowd to demand Christ’s crucifixion. This crowd that was following him for the blessing he brings just days earlier was now demanding his execution. Pilate, washing his hands of the event, handed him over to be scourged, and then crucified.
This is where my heart overrides my head knowledge.
Jesus was brought into he Governor’s palace where “THE ENTIRE ROMAN BATALLION” was brought in to Mock Jesus.
They played a purple cloak on Christ (an ancient symbol of royalty.)
They twisted together a crown of thorns and jammed it onto Jesus’ head, into his skin. (I can only imagine not blood gushing over his face and head, but the pain just from that.
They mockingly saluted and kneeled before him, spitting on and hitting him in the face while striking a stick (ESV Bible calls is “Reed”) on his head with concussive blows, further jamming the crown of thorns into his brow.
Implied in all this was the scourging: a cat of nine tails tipped with bone and iron to tear at the flesh on his back, ripping apart his skin and muscle to expose the spine and ribs below in horrific fashion.
When their fun was done, they led him out for the crucifixion. Hoisting a rough, heavy, wooden cross onto an exposed back, splinters jamming into his open wounds.
He stumbled on the way as his strength failed him as his heart beat faster and faster trying to push what little blood remained in his body. They enlisted Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross the rest of the way to Golgotha (the place of the skull, which by all appearances is still outside those very walls of Jerusalem today.)
At the 3rd hour (9am) they laid down the cross where the soldiers drove nails through his wrists and ankles to pin him to the rough wooden cross. They hoisted him up between two convicted robbers who also hurled insults on him. While passerby’s continued to mock him they cast lots to divided his clothes amongst themselves.
Along this path of the cross Jesus was offered Wine mixed with Myrrh a couple times to help deaden the pain. Jesus refused. He would endure and suffer the entire wrath of God, paying for the sins of all who would follow him.
At the 6th hour – midday when the sun is highest in the sky – darkness covered the land (Think the darkness of Exodus.) The Father abandoned his son, and Jesus was left to suffer the consequences of OUR sin. Alone. Finally after crying out “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried and out and breathed his last. It is finished.
Along the way one of the robbers hanging on a cross asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his glory. (Luke 23:39-43). No time to get off the cross to offer any sacrifice, any indulgence, any prayer, genuflect or go to confession, or have a “Touched by the Spirit” experience or some such thing. Just a plea of desperation. Jesus’ response: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The Temple veil separated the Holy of Holies (60 feet high, 4 inches thick) was torn in two. God rend his garments at the death of his son, and now the way to God was freely available to everyone, not just the special few Levitical Priests.
I am reminded of a Sovereign Grace song (written by Pat Sczebel) called “Jesus Thank you”
Your Blood, has washed away my sins
Jesus Thank you
The Fathers wrath completely satisfied
Jesus Thank you
Once your enemy, now seated at your table
Jesus Thank you!
But I ask of you the reader. For you, Is this a simple “I acknowledge (or understand) this happened” type of ‘Thank You to Jesus?’ Or is it is heart wrenched, tearful mourning for Jesus doing that for us “Thank you?”
Even as I recounted these events in this blog post, I had a tearful breakdown along the path. I am a disgusting sinful human being – and that’s on THIS side of salvation. (Heaven forbid anyone see who I was before!) God has taken my former and even current rebellion against his perfect character, and pinned it to the cross. I am free to live for Jesus because of it.
Jesus, from the bottom of my heart, I love you.
Jesus, thank you.