The Very Long Bad Good Friday (Lent 39-2019)

Jesus set down His cup and His betrayer left.  The remaining disciples tried to move beyond the awkwardness by singing a hymn with Jesus, and then they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

While the disciples protested that they would stand with Him until the end, Jesus knew better.  The very long bad Good Friday was unfolding, and He said to His disciples,

Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” (Luke 23:37)

They arrived at the Mount of Olives and Jesus needed to take some time to pray alone to His Father since He was now facing the battle of His life. 

 Luke 23:41 “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.   44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” 

There was no other way to pay for the sin of mankind.  It had to be this.  First the betrayer, then the apprehension before Jesus would say, 53 “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour– when darkness reigns.”

Indeed, celestial daylight may have broken on the very long bad Good Friday, but it was darkness–spiritual darkness–that reigned. Those in authority fraudulently tried, mocked, and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?,” and insulted Him in every possible way.  They brought Him for sentencing before that double-minded Pilate who finally agreed to crucify Him to satisfy the crowd’s demands.  The Roman guards scourged Him and mocked Him with a crown of thorns and a robe before sending Him–bloody and weary, His back nearly skinless now–to carry His Cross to the place of crucifixion. 

As He went to Golgotha, Luke 23:27 “A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.  28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.”” 

So, they wept for Him and for themselves.  Those in charge were so consumed with hatred that they had no idea of the battle in the spiritual realm Jesus had been fighting since His Incarnation and more earnestly since His being betrayed.  About the ones carrying out this excruciating execution,

Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots… 38 There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS… 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When He had said this, he breathed his last.”

The battle was fought.  The battle was finished.  The scattered disciples heard word that Jesus was dead, grieved that they’d fallen away in His hour of need, and assumed the overthrow—the war for vindication—was lost forever.  The women who had been watching the entire time wretched with complete anguish, choking on their tears, unable to stand or control their sobbing.

A rich man named Joseph of Arimathea watched in horror, too.  Being a member of the Council, he had sufficient authority to bravely go to Pilate as evening approached.  He asked for Jesus’ body since He was already dead.  Joseph took Jesus’ body down—it was already cold, lifeless, and Jesus’ final expression being an upward look at heaven and an open grimace of pain.  His eyes had not been closed at death.  Rather, they remained open, but their light was gone.  It was something Joseph would never forget.  That look of pain in death’s darkness layered over upward faith in the eyes of Jesus. 

Joseph had been accompanied by Nicodemus who brought myrrh and aloes to prepare the body in accordance with Jewish burial customs.  Together, they carefully wrapped Jesus’ body in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  The Sabbath was about to begin so they went home, each to his own, defiled now by touching death, horrified by the events, and remembering every detail of wrapping of Jesus’ dead body still bearing that look.  Before they left, they rolled the stone in front of the tomb, but they couldn’t seal away the memory of being the last ones to touch Jesus’ earthly body and look upon Jesus, this man of so much promise, this man who claimed He was God…a man faithful to the very end, and who died a death He didn’t deserve.

Think about it: 

  • How must Joseph and Nicodemus have felt to close the tomb by rolling the huge stone?  What kind of emotions and thoughts do you think they might have experienced as their Messianic expectations met the grave? 
  • The women too, the ones Luke 23:55 “who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it.”  How do you think they felt seeing the stone rolled, sealing Him in, and their having to wait until after the Sabbath to anoint His body?

“The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb” (Acts 13:27-29).  Forgive us, Lord, for our sins which made Your death necessary.  May we never take Your grace for granted. In the precious Name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

“More to the Easter Story” Lenten Devotionals conclude tomorrow, followed by an Easter greeting on Sunday. If you received these by logging onto the email sidebar of the Seminary Gal Home page or if you have Facebook and you “Liked” my page (Seminary Gal) where they’re always reprinted, I hope you’ll stay on for resuming our Joseph: A Life with Many Colors series which will continue after a short break. I appreciate your encouragement in this and my gardening ministry. I do this for you.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on April 19, 2019

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Leave a Reply