Friday, March 25, 2016

Holy Week Day 5: The Dark and Terrible Good Friday


View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

The evening began in the Upper Room, where Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Passover. Jesus knew "His hour had come". (John 13:1) His entire life had been spent preparing for the events that were about to unfold. The Sacrifice. The Death. The Atonement. The Victory. The Resurrection.

Before victory, however, there would be much heartache and sorrow. More physical pain than any one innocent man should bear. More spiritual warfare than anyone but Jesus could survive.

During his last few hours, Jesus poured truth into these men with whom He'd spent the last three years. He taught about their relationships with God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Himself. He taught about their relationships with one another and with the world. He warned them about the persecution to come and His death and resurrection. 

He knew everything that would happen to Him, yet He comforted His disciples. "Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1) "I go to prepare a place for you." 

Peter and John had gone to prepare a place for Jesus and the disciples to celebrate the Passover. When they heard those words, at some level, they must have wanted to believe Jesus would be back from this preparing in a few hours. 

It's clear they didn't understand, because the events of the next few hours shocked them to their core. 
Olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane

After dinner, Jesus did what He always did to prepare for ministry. He went to a solitary place to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. It's a beautiful place. Quiet. Serene. You can see the city from there if you want, or remove yourself completely among the trees, some of which were likely there that night. He prayed for strength and perseverance. He prayed with sweat-drops of blood and, finally, with surrender. 

Not My will, but Yours be done.

The disciples should have prayed, too. If they had, they'd have been prepared for what came next, but they didn't. They slept. When Jesus was arrested and tried, they scattered. They denied. They panicked.

Steps leading to Caiaphas' house

Jesus was arrested in the garden and taken to Annas, (Caiaphas' father-in-law) who bound Him like a common criminal and sent Him to the High Priest, Caiaphas. Those steps you see in the picture are the very steps up which Jesus was led by the soldiers. 

Steps and the courtyard at Caiaphas' where Peter denied Jesus

Caiaphas didn't want to miss the Passover feast, but he didn't want to let Jesus go, either. He was sick of the troublemaker, Jesus, and he saw his chance to be rid of Him. Caiaphas sent Him to Pilate at the Praetorium. 

The Lithostrotos where Jesus' trial was held and where he was mocked and scourged

Mocking and scourging Jesus were not enough to satisfy the blood lust of the Pharisees. They demanded His death. Pilate listened to the accusations against Him and, three separate times, declared Him innocent. He wanted to release Jesus, but feared the crowds. 
Feared a riot in the city. He caved to the pressure and allowed Jesus to be condemned to death by crucifixion.  

By the time He was led to Golgotha, Jesus had been beaten and scourged almost to the point of death. He started out with His cross on His back but collapsed under the load. When He finally finished the climb to the Place of a Skull, Golgotha, nails were pounded into his hands and feet to secure Him to the cross. It was raised into place and He was left to die.

His followers watched in horror. They expected an earthly kingdom. They expected a throne. Stately robes. Wealth. Power. The One on whom they had staked their hopes and future was hanging from nails on a cross. As His blood dripped from His wounds, their hope dripped away, and their faith with it.

He wasn't God after all? He didn't have the power we thought? Why can't He save Himself? He wasn't the Messiah? I believed a lie?

Questions roared through their minds. All they knew for sure was what they saw. What they had believed seemed to be nothing more than fantasy.

That's where the first Good Friday, that dark and terrible day ended for the disciples.

But Sunday was coming. The Resurrection would rock the world and change everything.

For today, we'll stop at the Sacrifice Jesus made for us, because it's vital that we understand these things happened. It's real. I've walked those steps and seen those sites. 

Sin always comes with a price, and it must be paid. Jesus died for us. For our Sin. 

He did it because giving us the Law hadn't helped. We wouldn't obey. Giving us prophecy hadn't helped. We wouldn't listen. Giving us discipline didn't help. We wouldn't change.

Finally, God did the only thing that would help. He gave Himself.

Even now, we don't want to obey. We don't want to listen. We don't want to change. 

On that terrible day so many years ago, Jesus did the only thing that could be done to save us. He gave Himself and left us with a choice. Will we follow Him or not?

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In case you missed part of this series, here are the links:
Holy Week day 2: The Betrayer
Holy Week day 3: Instant Obedience
Holy Week day 4: Jesus' Last Week
#easter #goodfriday #Jesus #linesfromleanna #leannahollis