April 18, 2014

Holy Week: Why is Good Friday, Good?

We’ve reached the most pivotal point in history: Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. And while it might seem grim and downtrodden that our Savior has died, it is the greatest news ever!

“It is the worst and best of all human deaths. For on this tree he bears our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24), ‘the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). And now it is finished. {From It is Finished by Justin Taylor and Andreas Kostenberger. Click here to read the rest.} And that friends is why Good Friday is GOOD!

Let’s follow Jesus’ steps this Good Friday through Scripture:

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After agonizing in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is betrayed by one of His closest friends… one of His disciples, Judas. It’s important to note that though this situation seems to speedily spiral out of control, every forthcoming event is in the hands of God and is played out according to His sovereign plan.

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” (Matthew 26:36-56)

Jesus, now arrested, is taken to a trial before the Sanhedrin (religious leaders of the day). Though it was still early morning (some time between 3 and 6 a.m.), and it was illegal for such trials to take place during the night, the proceedings continued. That day, Jesus had a religious trial before Jewish religious leaders, including Caiaphas; and he later also had a secular trial before the Roman leaders Pontius Pilate (twice) and Herod Antipas. Though Rome gave the people power to settle religious disputes, the people could not hand out death sentences, hence the religious leader’s fastidious demands of Pilate to charge Jesus as a criminal.

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Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward  and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”  And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.  What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (Matthew 26:57-68, emphasis added)

Interesting to note is the foreshadowing of Jesus’ resurrection when the false witnesses speak of the Temple being destroyed and rebuilt. They did not understand that Jesus was referring to Himself.  Another point of interest is the high priest tearing his robe. This was forbidden except for when a high priest witnessed blasphemy. However, in this case, the tearing of the robe is a mockery of Truth and dramatized for the crowd as Jesus was not blaspheming God.

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Bound and abused, Jesus is delivered to Pilate for what will be His death sentence. Though not wanting to get involved in religious affairs, Pilate asks Jesus questions … yet Jesus remains silent. This fulfills the extraordinary prophecy in Isaiah 53:7 (see photo above).

Cornered by the religious leaders, Pilate relents and completes another part of God’s bigger plan to save the world. Pilate hands Jesus over to the Jews for crucifixion.

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”  And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. (Matthew 27:24-26, emphasis added)

And here we see Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and rejected by men;  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

And Isaiah 53:8, “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living,  stricken for the transgression of my people?”

It is one thing to read about Jesus being beaten and abused, yet quite another to understand the severity. Not to be gruesome or gory, but grasping the gravity of the brutality endured can help us have a deeper gratitude and clearer picture of how much Christ paid for our sins. Having this wherewithal should draw our heart, mind and body back from sin when we are tempted.

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Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him.  And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. (John 19:1-2, emphasis added)

I gave my back to those who strike,  and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face  from disgrace and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6, emphasis added)

To note, flogging involved the use of a wooden handled whip with several leather strands attached. At the end of each strand was a shard of metal or bone. Victim’s wrists were tied high above their heads to a pole as their bare backs were laid open by the whip. Depending on the strength of the flogger, victim’s skin, muscles, or organs could be torn apart, and the victim could die.

I really appreciate this quote by John Stott: “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”

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As Jesus hung on the cross, He continued to bring to pass the ultimate plan of God. Let’s look at several key Old Testament verses connected with New Testament passes about this Good Friday:

NT — > John 19:28-30, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.”
OT — > Psalm 69:21, “They gave me poison for food,  and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”

 

NT — > Matthew 27:35-36, “And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.
OT — > Psalm 22:18, “…they divide my garments among them,  and for my clothing they cast lots.”

 

NT –> Matthew  27:39-44, “So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,  “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him.
OT –> Psalm 22:7-8,  “All who see me mock me;  they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;  let him rescue him, for he delights in him!””

 

NT –> Luke 23:32-34, “Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
OT — > Isaiah 53:12, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many  and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death  and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many,  and makes intercession for the transgressors.

 

NT –> John 19:31-37, “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.  So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.  But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.  For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (emphasis added)

OT — > Psalm 34:19-20, “He keeps all his bones;  not one of them is broken.”

OT — > Zechariah 12:10, “…when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him…”

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And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.  The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.  When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 45:45-54)

I’d like to quote The MacArthur Study Bible here: “I.e. , the curtain that blocked the entrance to the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:33; Heb. 9:3). The tearing of the veil signified that the way into God’s presence was now open to all through a new and living way (Heb. 10:19-22). The fact that it tore “from top to bottom showed that no man had split the veil. God did it.” (pg. 1414)

“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.”John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

And now, we wait in hope and expectation for our Risen Savior and Sunday! Come back tomorrow to continue our journey. 

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xoxo,
Sam

Comments

  1. I hardly comment, but i did some searching and wound up here
    Holy Week: Why is Good Friday, Good? | Fields of Gold.

    And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be simply me or does it look like a few of
    the comments look like written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing on other online social
    sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
    Would you list of all of all your social sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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