John 19:5 (NLT)… Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
It was another Passover, a feast commemorating the Miracles in Exodus. Several centuries earlier, the nation of Israel led by Moses finally gained freedom from the Egyptians after 400 years of slavery. That same night they crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. It was reported that some two million people of all ages, crossed the Red Sea overnight, on dry ground. And this exodus was preceded by mass killing of Egyptian Firstborns. Yeah, talk aboutthe ultimate price for freedom. So yearly, Israelites commemorated these two unbelievable events during a weeklong Festival known as Passover, even though the Passover itself held on the seventh day, also known as the Sabbath.
This particular year, on this particular day, the preparation for the Sabbath (Passover) went on as usual. Only that at the end of that day, a man would be executed, and a Roman Governor (Pontius) called Pilate would give permission for an innocent man to be executed in the most torturous way – death by crucifixion. The man’s name was Jesus, and it is His death that we commemorate on Good Friday. The Roman soldiers who executed him were simply doing their job assigned them by their commanding officer… And the Chief Priests who masterminded everything, let’s just say they were beyond redemption.
You see, there are those days when life can be a little bit overcrowded with events, including life-changing events, either for good or bad, and it will be difficult to believe that everything happened within a space of 24-hours.
That was the story of Jesus so very many centuries ago, on a day we now recognize as Good Friday, although it might not even have occurred on a Friday. But for the purpose of argument, it did happen during the week leading to the Passover, probably Friday.
My devotion on this Good Friday is from Mark 14 of the Holy Bible.
Mark 14:33-34 (NIV): “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.””
The Big Question is:
HOW DID JESUS GET TO THIS POINT OF DISTRESS?
Just two days earlier, He was reminded of His coming suffering and death in the sweetest way. He was invited to one of those opulent parties hosted by one Simon (previously) The Leper. There, one (previously) bad girl brought the sweetest gift, a gift criticized by those present as sheer waste of something precious…
Mark 14:3 (NIV): “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.”
Jesus recognized the sign, and knew what He must do. Soon after, He went ahead to make a reservation for a Guest Room that was fully furnished for an all-important dinner.
Mark 14:14-15 (NIV): “Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.””
HE WANTED TO SAY HIS FAREWELL
This reservation was pivotal, so that He could have that special time with His disciples; to eat His Last Dinner on earth, which also doubled as the Passover meal with them; to say His Farewell, no, not farewell, but to tell them His time was up, and to give them those very important messages that would be passed down towhat wewould become The Church.
John the Beloved, a dear disciple, many decades later took the pain to write what happened during the dinner. It was a long emotional meeting documented in John chapters 14-17!!
The dinner was also special, so He could reveal the Face of the Traitor, the one and only Judas Iscariot.
Meanwhile, Judas had already embarked on a little scheming of his ownving closed doors meeting with the Chief Priests on: “What would it cost to betray my friend Jesus?” They promised him some compensation, and he, blinded by greed, agreed.
The dinner came, thirteen men came in, for a life-changing experience. Jesus told of His soon-to-come exit, and passed other vital information (John 14-17). Then came the moment of truth, the Traitor was identified and as a matter of fact, Jesus said they would all desert him at some point. The Lord’s Supper was instituted, and then, the night was over.
Or was it just starting?? It was just late afternoon, the night was still young.
The Gethsemane Experience…
Jesus went with His Disciples to their favorite outdoor spot. But this time, for some serious business. Within the next 24 hours, He was going to be killed. Like a criminal. And the thought of it terrified Him. He was deeply distressed and troubled.
HE NEEDED TO PRAY.
He told them: My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, Stay here and keep watch.
But apparently, the guys were full from the dinner, and they couldn’t keep their eyes open, even after Jesus woke them 2-3 times. They couldn’t pray, they couldn’t support Him, they couldn’t encourage Him. He prayed alone, with his clothes soaked with sweat.
He prayed: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36 NIV).
Needless to say, that was one cup ABBA FATHER had no intention of taking away. The stakes were too high.
The rest, they say, is History. Or is it?
Within one short hour of prayer, His time was truly UP! His dear friend Judas, with whom they just finished a sumptuous (unleavened) supper that was making their other friends sleepy, returned. He greeted Jesus with a KISS. He could have as well brought a Knife.
HE BETRAYED JESUS WITH A KISS!
What kind of sick human being betrays his friend of over three years, with a kiss??
Behind Him was a mob of angry citizens and Temple Guards; angry mob incited by the Chief Priests and Temple Leaders. Ready to arrest whoever Judas kissed.
Jesus Christ from the village of Nazareth. The Son of God. He was arrested unfairly in the garden where He was praying.
That same night, He was tried by the Chief Priests and Religious Leaders. They wanted his trial done and dusted before the Passover. But because they couldn’t sentence Him, that same night, He was taken to be tried by the King (Herod) and then by the Roman Governor (Pontus Pilate) both of whom found Him innocent. But for political reasons, sentenced Him all the same.
TO BE CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS.
John 19:5… Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
That was the only right move at that moment, politically correct thing he could do.
There, in the midst of a most holy Passover Festival, Jesus was crucified, and He died to take away the sins of the world and restore man back to God.
And that, my friend, is why we celebrate Good Friday.