Welcome! This morning we will resume our series titled “Passion Week” with a message about “Good Friday and Saturday”. Before we begin, let’s take a moment to recognize that today is actually Palm Sunday - the day on which Passion Week officially began and the subject of the first message in this study which I preached about a month ago. I pray that as this week goes by, you will take some time each morning to go back and review (or perhaps even remember from these sermons) some of the things that took place on that particular day.
At the conclusion of last week’s message, Jesus had just been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. All of His disciples had fled. It was around midnight. Thursday was over and Good Friday had begun. The detachment of soldiers bound Jesus and led Him away...
I. THE TRIALS
Jesus was taken first to the home of Annas, the highly respected father-in-law of the high priest, for a preliminary investigation. From there he was brought to Caiaphas, the actual high priest, who further questioned Him. The council and elders were summoned. Finally, as morning approached, Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin. Throughout the course of the night, Jesus was repeatedly mocked and beaten viciously. False testimony was presented and accusations were trumped up. Though all of these trials were illegitimate, ultimately the Jews charged and convicted Him of blasphemy. However, they lacked the authority to execute Him.
Peter had followed Jesus and His captors to the home of the chief priest. While they were interrogating the Lord inside, Peter remained outside in the courtyard warming himself by the fire. During the night, some of those who were present there recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ apostles. They accused him of knowing Jesus, but Peter denied it 3 times. After his third denial, with sunrise drawing near, a rooster crowed (perhaps twice). Suddenly remembering what Jesus had predicted the night before, Peter ran away and wept bitterly.
As the dawn broke, Judas realized that Jesus had been condemned by the Jewish Council. He felt guilty and remorseful for having betrayed Christ. He went to the chief priests to return the 30 pieces of silver that they’d given him. But it was too late to undo what he’d done, and the chief priests didn’t want their money back. Devastated, Judas threw it into the temple sanctuary. From there, he went away into the fields and hanged himself.
Meanwhile the Jewish officials led Jesus to the Roman governor Pilate, hoping that He’d be sentenced to death. But after consulting with Him, Pilate couldn’t find any reason to convict Jesus. The Jews were insistent, so Pilate sent Jesus to stand trial before Herod. Herod spoke briefly with Him, but not wanting to get involved, he returned Jesus back to Pilate. In an effort to appease the Jews, Pilate had Jesus scourged with a whip. They were still not satisfied. Pilate then offered to release a prisoner, but the Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus. Finally Pilate buckled under the pressure, despite having been warned by his wife not to do so. He charged Jesus with insurrection against Rome and handed Him over to be crucified.
II. THE CRUCIFIXION
The soldiers fashioned a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head. They dressed Him in purple robes and ridiculed Him. Stripping Him, they then forced Jesus, along with 2 other criminals, to carry their crosses through the streets of Jerusalem. Crowds followed and women wept as they watched. Jesus had already been ruthlessly beaten and scourged. Exhausted, He struggled under the weight of the cross and finally fell. A bystander named Simon of Cyrene was chosen to carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way to Golgotha.
When they arrived, Jesus was nailed to the cross and raised into position between 2 criminals who were also being executed. It was about 9:00 am in the morning. A sign was posted above His head which read, “King of the Jews”. While Jesus hung there, the Roman soldiers below laughed and cast lots for His clothing. They offered Him bitter wine, but Jesus refused to drink it. Many people in the crowd of onlookers taunted Him and hurled insults His way.
Jesus spoke several times while He was suspended on the cross. He prayed for those who were crucifying Him, saying, “Father forgive them, for they don’t realize what they’re doing.” He forgave the repentant thief who was hanging beside Him and promised, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” He entrusted the care of His mother Mary to the apostle John by telling them, “Behold your mother” and “Behold your son”.
Around noon, an eerie darkness fell over the land. It persisted for 3 long and unsettling hours. During the haze, Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” The people thought that He was calling out for Elijah to come rescue Him and they anxiously waited to see if he’d appear. At some point Jesus triumphantly shouted, “It is finished!”. It was a declaration that Jesus had completed His mission to conquer sin. Then He hung His head and breathed His last breath, gasping, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
Immediately the ground began to violently shake. The rocks broke apart. The veil of the temple was split from top to bottom. The entrances of many tombs were opened. The centurion standing at the foot of the cross was so shaken by what was happening that he exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
As the afternoon continued, a decision was made to break the legs of those who were being crucified so that they’d die and could be taken down before sunset. However, when the soldiers saw that Jesus had already died they decided not to break His bones. Instead they pierced His side with a spear, to insure that He was truly dead. Blood and water flowed out. This took place to fulfill Old Testament prophecies in found Psalms and Zechariah.
III. THE BURIAL
Late that afternoon or perhaps early evening, the soldiers removed the bodies of those who had been crucified from the crosses. According to Jewish law, these bodies had to be disposed of before the Sabbath began in just a few hours. A prominent man named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could have Jesus’ body, and was given permission.
So Joseph and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin who were sympathetic to Christ, took Jesus’ body and hastily anointed it with myrrh and aloe. They quickly wrapped it in linen clothes and placed it in a new tomb where no one had ever laid before. They rolled a stone in front of the tomb’s entrance to protect the body from scavengers and thieves. As all of this took place, several of the women were watching nearby - including Mary Magdalene. Jesus was buried around dusk, just before the sun set.
IV. THE SABBATH
The next day was Saturday, the Sabbath day. All of the disciples rested, as commanded by the Mosaic Law. The women spent their time preparing spices and perfumes. They planned to return to the tomb the next morning, after the Sabbath, to properly and more thoroughly prepare Jesus’ body for burial.
Meanwhile, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked him to place a Roman guard at the tomb’s entrance for 3 days. They were concerned that Jesus’ disciples would steal His body and then claim that He had risen. Pilate agreed to their request. Roman soldiers were sent to secure the tomb. They sealed it shut and then remained stationed there to stand guard.
It may seem strange to some that Christians remember the day of Jesus’ crucifixion as “Good Friday”. They might wonder, “What was good about it?” After all, Jesus was condemned based on faulty testimony, was beaten beyond recognition and mocked mercilessly, was scourged by a Roman whip, was crowned with long piercing thorns, and was finally executed by crucifixion - arguably the most dreadful form of punishment ever invented by mankind. It is hard to imagine anything more horrible than this…
Still, Christians call it “Good Friday” because this was the day that God gave His Son for them. Jesus died on the cross as the substitute for sinners. He bore the sin of all humanity upon Himself, and endured the penalty of death that they rightly deserve(d). Jesus paid the full debt of sin that was owed, and appeased the terrible wrath of God that was justly due. Because of His great sacrifice, anyone who repents of their sins and accepts Jesus by faith can and will be saved. Their condemnation is placed on Jesus’ account and they receive total forgiveness and pardon. Beloved, it is hard to imagine anything more wonderful than this…