I should already be leaving for work....but for some reason I just can't...I have to finish this post before I leave....I have to say this....I have to tell you all this story....you see...today is Good Friday and as a child I never understood why they called this day Good Friday. I did not see anything good about it. As I matured as a Christian I began to understand the terminology much better and realized just what an Easter person I am. This morning while I was sitting here I was thinking that if we were to look at this as a play we could see that scene one of Christ’s passion drama in unfolding in the Garden of Gethsemane about 1:00 in the morning on Friday. On this night it was common for families to sleep four hours or less so that the joy of Passover could be fully savored. Jesus is not far outside the city walls in a deep green grove of olive trees surrounding a garden known as Gethsemane. In this breaking of a new day we see the figure of a man lying prostrate on the rocks, sweating great drops of blood. This man as Jesus Christ. It is here at this very moment that His final great passion begins-- all alone. This is His time of greatest need as he tells His friends: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with me". Yet His friends failed Him. He has invited His Closest disciples (Peter, James & John) to pray with Him, yet they slept. Every time I think about this I cry. How sad is it that his own friends could not even stay awake with him. But that is part of the play yet to unfold….He is very aware of the weakness of His disciples. Truly "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". He tells them. "Take your rest". He turns to walk away and, through the foliage, He can see the many torches and lanterns of the band that was come to hasten Him to His death….and He looks the traitorous Judas Iscariot in the eye and receives his kiss. He looks at His betrayer with eyes of compassion and asks him: "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" Peter comes to life and tries to fight the men and help Jesus escape…but as Peter draws back for the kill, Jesus instructs him to re-sheath his sword. "Put up your sword, Peter. They that live by the sword, shall surely die by the sword. If I wanted I could ask the Father and He would send me more than 12,000 angels to fight in my behalf….and He could have….but Jesus realized that His time for deliverance had not yet come. For you see, this is only Friday ---but Sunday is Coming!! The rest of the story unfolds so quickly…Scripture records that "... the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him ... and led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled". He was taken there for questioning regarding His claims to be the very Son of God. This tribunal, however was not interested in getting at the truth. They had murder in their heart!! Scripture tells us that "..the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death". They were enraged by His claims; jealous of His popularity; and fearful of His power. He is judged by morally-bankrupt spiritual leaders of His day, more concerned with their own welfare than that of the innocent man which stood before them. But to that I know…."That’s all right Sanhedrin -- you may think you’re in control now, but you need to know that today is only Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!!"The drama begins to move at a rapid pace….. and our next act takes place in Pilate’s hall. Being convinced that they had an "air-tight" cases against Jesus, the chief priests and elders had Him delivered to Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of the region. It was with Pilate that the authority to put to death lay. Pilate…he was so pompous and the procurator of the region. Where did he get the idea he had the right to sit in judgment of the Perfect Personage of Heaven! Lies flowed from the hearts of so-called "holy men". Christ had never been guilty of the crimes He was accused of, but remember -- they had murder in their heart. I can hear Pilate falsetto voice saying nastily….."Are you the king of the Jews". And then I can hear Jesus’ sweet voice…softly and tenderly saying…."My kingdom is not of this world.” I can only imagine how angry Pilate was when he posed the question again: "Are you indeed a king?" I can just see the look of amazement on his face with Jesus replied "You are right in saying that I am a king". Pilate’s wife was aware that there was something special about this man who stood for judgment. "Have nothing to do with this just man", she tells her husband, "for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him". But Pilate was in a predicament! If he let Jesus go, the Jewish leadership would accuse him of being an enemy of Caesar. Yet by his own admission, Pilate had found no fault in Jesus! So….there he was…..in a quandary….and in an effort to appease the crowd, Pilate brought Jesus and the insurrectionist Barabbas before them. It was the custom of the day to release one prisoner during Passover. "Surely", he thought, "the crowd will have released to them Jesus of Nazareth rather than this vicious criminal Barabbas." Yet this crowd was thirsty for innocent blood. Their response was "Release unto us Barabbas!" "But what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" asked Pilate. "Crucify him", cried the blood-thirsty crowd. The Gospel of Mark presents the record of the proceedings: "Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify Him! And so Pilate, willing to content the people released Barabbas unto them and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him to be crucified". Matthew’s Gospel records that this weak-willed Roman ruler "took water, and washed his hands before the multitude saying ’I am innocent of the blood of this just person’." But, Pilate, it will take more than water to wash the responsibility of this innocent blood from your hands. You were willing to sacrifice an innocent man on the altar of your own popularity. I can see Pilate as Christ is being led off to the scourgers. Undoubtedly he looked again at his hands and sees what appears to be blood-stains there. And as he looks at these stains they seem to take the shape of letters and the letters begin to form words; and the words form one sentence: "It’s Friday, Pilate -- But Sunday’s Coming"! He is scourged....and then He is sent to Golgotha to be crucified.....This is the part of the drama where I want to hide my face in shame. Even the angels in heaven looked on in stunned disbelief. Here was the Creator; the Lion of Judah; the Son of the Living God being crucified at the hands of His creation! And then, after hours of torment Jesus lifted His weight momentarily from the cross, allowing Him to fill His lungs in order that He might make one final proclamation: "It is finished! Father into your hands I commit my spirit" With this statement pandemonium broke loose. Nature went into meltdown. The sun refused to shine its fair rays down upon a creation which would treat the Creator so. The birds refused to sing their lovely songs to those who had shed innocent blood. Earth convulsed, Hell rejoiced; and Heaven stood amazed. God the Father looked down from His throne and with a glint in His eye said: "It’s all right -- Satan HAS NOT won. It’s Friday --- But Sunday’s coming!"(....to be continued)
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
1 year ago