As you slept last night…
Jesus was betrayed in the Garden by one of his disciples, Judas (Luke 22:47-48). He was then taken to the former high priest, Annas (John 18:13) in an attempt to conjure up formal charges against Him. Jesus, the King of the Jews, was then bound and delivered to Caiaphas, the reigning high priest who just happens to be the son-in-law of Annas (wink, wink). Finally, Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin, a group of the top-ranking religious leaders who were to model God-centered wisdom. These men were modeled after the seventy elders in Israel under Moses (see Numbers 11:16). The irony is overwhelming: Jesus, the Redeemer of whom the Law of Moses pointed to had been tied up, wrongly accused, interrogated, beaten, and was in the process of being framed in order to be killed. The entire series of events leads us into what is commonly called, “Good Friday.”
Jesus must have looked powerless through the events of the night. To the average person, Jesus must have looked like a broken man or a man who had been caught breaking the law. To those who know His life’s story, the meekness of Jesus is actually a posture of submission to the Father’s will. Jesus could crush his captors at any moment since there was an angelic army at the ready. Jesus made this clear during His arrest in the garden – He told Peter that he had at his disposal “twelve legions of angels” (see Matt. 26:52-54) who would do His bidding. A legion was comprised of 6,000 soldiers. Twelve angelic legions would be 72,000 angels! In 2 Kings 19:35, we read of one angel killed 185,000 soldiers in Sennacherib’s army in one night! Powerless? No. Jesus was playing a part, and this is how it had to be done; it was the will of the Father. Jesus is fulfilling Scriptures in portraying the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (see John 1:29).
During the night, the religious leaders conducted what could be considered a “kangaroo court” – a criminal proceeding in which Jesus was found guilty of nothing. In the morning, Jesus is taken to the civil authority in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate. Pilate is the Roman governor in Jerusalem and had the responsibility to keep the peace. Pilate is on hand personally in Jerusalem, given the enormous swell in the population during Passover. Some estimate that Jerusalem grew by two million people on this religious festival commemorating the Israelites being delivered from Egypt by God under Moses’s leadership. To avoid a religious conflict, Pilate treats Jesus like a hot-potato and passes Him to Herod Antipas – the ruler of the region of Galilee from which Jesus was from. After a fruitless meeting, Herod delivers Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate will listen to the will of the people and wash his hands of Jesus.
Jesus is paraded through the streets after being beaten… again. Jesus is directed to a hill outside of Jerusalem – the “hill” or “place of the skull.” Jesus is nailed to a Roman cross which is then dropped into a hole in the ground. Jesus will hang on this cross and ask the Father to forgive those who have put him there. He doesn’t call down insults or try to convince people of who He really is. Jesus simply does what He has always done – He reaches out to a criminal who hangs on a cross next to Him. You see, Jesus is determined to do the right thing, not the easy thing, not the most popular thing, the right thing. At this moment, to trust the Father is what is most needful. To reach out to a person in need is the right thing to do. To forgive people who have nothing but hatred and malice in their hearts toward Him is right.
Absolutely! Without Jesus acting in this way, I would have no hope. Why? It is because I am the person who has malice in my heart. I am a person who hated Christ. I am the person who needed to be reached. In the actions of Jesus, I find hope to deal with my insecurities and failures. I see a God who does not give me what I deserve but meets me at my point of need. In my moment-by-moment need, I find the grace of God expressed to me through Jesus Christ precisely because of what Jesus did on the cross. A Christ-hater turned Christ-follower said it this way:
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:21
In Jesus, we have a better Adam, someone who never sinned. In Jesus, we have a better Abraham, the person who completed the Abrahamic Covenant (see Genesis 15, 17). In Jesus, we have a better Moses, someone who could mediate all of humanity with God and perfectly fulfilled His Law (Exodus 19-23). In Jesus, we have a better David. Jesus is the ultimate warrior-King of all of God’s people of whom His rule will never end. This is not merely “Good Friday,” this is the best Friday ever!