Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king.”
They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!”
Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?”
The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”
Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.
They took Jesus away. Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read:
jesus the Nazarene
the king of the jews.
John 19: 14-19
Today is Good Friday. Even the name is filled with irony. It is good for us, in that through the death of Jesus, He takes upon His back our sins. Yet it is a terrible day for Jesus. One He did not look forward to. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He had prayed, “If there is any way that I might not drink of this cup…”, speaking of the cup of suffering and death.
On Good Friday, the crowd gets riled up. A mob mentality takes over. They shout, “Crucify Him!” over and over. In what is surely another of the day’s ironies, some of those who shouted this most cruel of phrases were probably the same voices who greeted Jesus with “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” less than a week before!
Pilate seems caught between the demands of the crowd, and his sense that he should not condemn Jesus. At times he is bewildered. Other times, he asserts his authority. Yet in the end, he caves to the demands of the crowd. He writes a sign to be placed on the cross, reading “The King of the Jews.” The Jewish religious authorities want him to change the sign, telling Pilate, “No! Write, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate refuses, saying, “I have written what I have written. So the King of the Jews is crucified with a sign meant to mock him, which actually tells the truth. The crown of thorns also is meant to mock him, but He truly is the King of Kings. Good Friday is a day filled with irony.
In the various Gospels, we have seven last words from the cross. Yet I am thankful that we do not have more details about that particular day. Not because it was unimportant. Not at all! But because it was a brutal, awful event. Necessary for our salvation, yes. But a horrible day of death, nonetheless.
I believe most striking about the day is Jesus’ willingness to become a sacrifice for our sins. At any moment, He could have stopped what was going on. As the devil reminded him during the temptations, He could have called down an army of angels to rescue him. He would not have even injured his foot! Yet Jesus did not stop what was happening to Him. Instead, he offered up His life, for our sins.
Why? Jesus Himself had told his disciples the reason.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15: 13.
“But God put His love on the line for us by offering His son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatsoever to him.” Romans 5: 8
My friends, Good Friday was a horrible, awful terrible day of death for our Lord. Yet it was, at the same time, an opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate His great love for us. Let us reflect on Jesus’ love for us on this momentous day, Good Friday. The cross is proof of God’s deep love for us. May you focus on how much you are loved by God today…. Good Friday ended up being a very good day for us. Hallelujah!
Loving and Holy God,
It is painful for us to read the details of Your son’s death. Yet we are reminded of how much You love us. We do not deserve Your love, yet You shower it upon us anyway. On this Good Friday, perhaps our best response would be to say thank you to You, for Your great love. So we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We pray this prayer in name of Your son, whose name is synonymous with love, Jesus Christ. Amen.