Well, the religious leaders finally got what they wanted. They arrested Jesus. And they tied Him up before leading Him away.
In the early morning hours, Jesus is brought in for questioning. While many slept, others were wide awake. This was no small commotion. The Romans were acting out of duty. The Jewish leaders were thrilled to see their plan come to fruition. The curious spectators were confused. But Jesus’ followers were appalled and scared.
How would you have felt watching all this unfold?
Here’s the order of events unraveling on this night. Ponder them and then I’ll capitalize on a few things as we continue.
- Jewish trials (John 18:12-14) (John 18:19-24) (Luke 22:66-71)
- Peter’s denial (Luke 22:54-62)
- Roman trials (John 18:28-40) (Luke 23:1-25)
- Judas commits suicide (Matthew 27:1-5)
- Sentenced to death (John 19:1-16)
- Crucifixion (John 19:17-37)
- Burial (John 19:38-42)
Before we begin with the trials, there are a couple things you need to know. First, the Jewish leaders are the ones who want Jesus dead. But Jews cannot execute a death sentence. So eventually, they will need to appeal to the Roman government with their evil plans of execution. Second, everything the Jewish leaders did was illegal, including conducting a trial in the middle of the night.
Now, let’s move forward with Jesus on this dark night… (the references are listed above in case you would like to read for yourself)
The soldiers drag Jesus away to the high priest’s residence. By this time, the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court) had gathered. In the Jewish religion, blasphemy (making yourself out to be God) was worthy of death. They questioned Jesus on His teaching.
Matthew says that “Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death” (Matthew 26:59). When two men finally agreed (there had to be two agreeing witnesses for a conviction), the leaders were now able to convict Jesus: He was guilty of blasphemy.
But blasphemy would never hold up in a Roman court of law. They needed to come up with something else for the Romans to put Him to death.
As things were heating up inside, the night was getting darker for two particular souls: Peter and Judas.
Peter denied his Lord as Jesus had said. As soon as the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus’ words and ran out with a heavy heart. He needed to be alone.
But Judas was beyond grief for what he had done. He couldn’t live with himself any more, because he knew that he was partly responsible for this innocent Man’s death. So, he ran to a place outside town and hung himself.
The leaders feel that they have enough evidence against Jesus now, so they bring Him to Pilate, the governor of Rome. Pilate seemed more perturbed than anything else when they brought Jesus to him. He did not find their accusations trustworthy. After questioning Jesus, Pilate turned to the religious leaders and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man” (Luke 23:4). But the leaders became insistent: “He is causing riots by his teachings wherever he goes – all over Judea from Galilee to Jerusalem” (Luke 23:5).
There it is… they accused Jesus of trying to usurp the Roman government. This would definitely raise some eyebrows. Pilate just wanted to be done with the whole situation, so he passed him off to Herod (from Galilee), who happened to be in Jerusalem for Passover. Herod just mocked Him and then sent Him back to Pilate.
By this time, the religious leaders had stirred up the crowd and they began to shout “Crucify Him.” Pilate questioned Jesus some more. But still could find no basis to put him to death. The crowds were going crazy by this time, screaming and ranting. Pilate tried to release Jesus and have Barabbas (a hardened criminal) executed. But the crowd wanted Jesus to die, not Barabbas. Pilate finally relented and sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
Sentenced to death
Jesus is then stripped and flogged, mocked, humiliated, and severely tortured. Then He carried the heavy crossbeam outside the city to the hill called Golgotha.
Here’s an excerpt of what crucifixion was like: A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly, – dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever….The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish, the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst.
Jesus hung on the cross for six long and grueling hours. Some criminals hung on the cross for days before dying. But Jesus had been tortured so severely, His death was quicker. Of course, this was God’s plan.
Finally Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and died. At that moment, Scripture tells us that there was a GREAT earthquake, the curtain in the temple split in two, and people came out of tombs and went into the city. And the guard standing watch shouted, “Surely, He was the Son of God.”
Let me say this… Jesus did this for you and me. His love was so great that He willingly went to the cross (a place for criminals), took on our sins, and paid the full price. His blood has been poured out for our salvation, our redemption. Can you say, AMEN?
Let me quickly close. As soon as Jesus died, Scripture tells us that Joseph of Arimathea (a wealthy secret follower of Jesus) went to Pilate and asked for Jesus body. Pilate granted it to him. Otherwise, Jesus’ body would have been taken off the cross and tossed into the local body dump – thrown on top of many other dead bodies.
Joseph and Nicodemus (the one who came to Jesus in John 3), buried Him in a tomb that had never been used.
Friday is a dark day, but a day necessary for our salvation. Jesus’ resurrection would not have been possible without His death. In the end, it really is a GOOD Friday.
I’m so thankful. Are you? Please write your comments below – what does Good Friday mean to you?