Friday, April 06, 2007

Holy Week - Day 6

Good Friday ... I don't think so. But, since this is the day that Jesus responded to God's demand on His life so that we could know eternity ... it is a wonderful day for us. My response is only gratefulness.

Texts today come from Matthew 26:57-27:66, Mark 14:53-15:47, Luke 22:54-23:53, and John 18:13-19:42.

This day starts in the middle of the night. The detachment of soldiers brought Him first to Annas. Now ... Annas was the faither-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Annas had been high priest in AD 6, appointed by Quirinius. His rule as high priest brought the Jews under Roman rule. He was high priest for 10 years and his sons all served in the role. He was probably president of the Sanhedrin at the time, so Jesus was brought to him first. He questioned Jesus and then sent Him on to Caiaphas where Jesus faced His first trial of the day in front of the Sanhedrin.

During this time, Peter had been following the activities from a distance. He was noticed by a servant girl as he warmed himself by a fire in the courtyard of the high priest's home. When she asked about his alliance with Jesus, he disavowed any knowledge of the man. This happened twice more to the poor man. I guess once you get caught up in a lie, it's really difficult to get out of it. I certainly hope that no one looks down on Peter for this action. I think of the number of times that I have lived a life in the world without acknowledging Jesus as Lord ... ohhhhh ... I'm Peter. Peter had 3 years with His Lord ... I've had a lifetime. You would think I knew better.

Just as the rooster crowed following the third denial, Luke tells us that "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Argh!!!! Oh ... that is painful.

Jesus is questioned by the High Priest in front of the Sanhedrin. The high priest called for Jesus to answer under oath, "Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus responded with "Yes, it is as you say." Now, for any of us who face down doubters regarding Christ's admission of divinity, the answer is plainly given here. No questions ... we're done!

Jesus was proclaimed a blasphemer, they spit on him slapped him and struck him ... these teachers and elders were no more than common thugs. Isn't it interesting that religious disagreements will bring even the most learned to their basest instincts. We lose all of our sensibilities!

Daybreak! And it's time to get this thing going. The whole assembly took Jesus to Pilate. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was king of the Jews ... Jesus answered 'yes' again! Pilate couldn't find anything wrong with Jesus, and didn't want to deal with Him. He discovered Jesus was from Galilee - and sent Him off to Herod. Herod questioned Jesus - Jesus refused to answer Him. Herod dressed Him in fine robes and sent Him back to Pilate.

Side Note: Luke tells us that after this point, Herod and Pilate became friends, though they never had been before. Hmmm ... Jesus was finally something they could have in common. Neither of them wanted to deal with it.

We know that Pilate washed His hands of the whole thing. Matthew tells us that Pilate's wife warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus - she was troubled by a dream. But, Pilate finds a loophole and releases Barrabbas when the crowds call for Jesus' crucifixion. Pilate had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew and Mark tell us that the soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus and weave a crown of thorns. Simon of Cyrene was called out to carry the cross for Jesus. They offered him wine - mixed with gall, they cast lots for His clothing. John tells us that the sign "This is Jesus, The King of the Jews" was written by Pilate and placed above Jesus. It was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek for everyone to read. When the chief priests protested, Pilate said "What I have written, I have written." John also relates the names of the women at the foot of the cross. And John tells us that Jesus asked him to care for His mother.

About 3:00 pm, Jesus called out "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani". He gave up his spirit and it was over. The curtain in the temple was torn, the earth shook, tombs opened and people came back to life.

Evening was approaching and since this would be the Sabbath and it was during the Passover feast, the Jews didn't want these bodies hanging on the crosses. So, to ensure Jesus was dead, they pierced his side with a spear. There were plenty of people that stayed with Jesus from the beginning of the crucifixion until His burial, though they stayed at a distance.

You know, I think we deride them for their fear, but I think we have to be fully aware of the extreme persecution they were facing. If the Sanhedrin was angry enough at this man of God that they would execute Him, why would they not go after His followers next? These weren't great heroes, these were ordinary men who had just lost the person that was their link to God. They didn't have the power of the resurrection in their hearts yet.

Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin. He asked Pilate for the body and buried it with the help of Nicodemus. The words of John 19:40 are so tender. These two men, who were not among the twelve, but were touched by Jesus, cared for our Lords' body. "Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish customs."

Luke tells us that the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Matthew and Mark identify them as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They went home to prepare more spices and perfumes, but had to rest on the Sabbath.

Joseph rolled the rock into place. The day of darkness is nearly over.

Don't you wonder when the resurrection actually took place? When Jesus' body was gone from that tomb? Did He wait until Sunday morning? Did God leave the body there throughout the Sabbath?

We have no news of what happened the next day. I'm sure that since it was the Sabbath they didn't do much. I can only imagine the mourning that was occurring. Those were a couple of very dark days for Jesus' family, friends and disciples.

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