We call it “Good Friday” because it was good for us. Jesus died for us, for the forgiveness of our sins which have earned us death (see Romans 6:23). This was God’s plan. Read Jesus’ description of his role as the good shepherd (John 10:7-18). “I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.” “The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.”
Jesus remained silent before Pilate because if he had offered any defense of himself then Pilate would have been unwilling to have Jesus crucified. The whipping given to a condemned person was meant to weaken them before they were crucified. Carrying their own cross was also a method of weakening the condemned. Simon of Cyrene is mentioned for helping to carry Jesus’ cross but also for the sake of his sons Alexander and Rufus who were known in the church.
Jesus was offered a mixture of wine and drugs designed to ease the shock of crucifixion. But Jesus refused to drink it – he was taking our suffering upon himself and he wanted to make sure that he got all of it. (Stop and think about that.) They nailed Jesus to a cross at about mid-morning (9 am).
At about noon Jesus shouted out, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” Jesus is using the words of Psalm 22 to express what is happening to him. Many people believe that God had actually deserted Jesus because Jesus had become a sinner by taking our sins upon himself. But that is not our experience of being sinners. We are sinners but God does not desert us. If God deserted sinners, then none of us would have ever known God. But sin does separate us from God – it moves us away from God and makes it harder for us to recognize God’s presence in our lives. Jesus was experiencing this distance from God for the first time in his life. It was one human experience that Jesus had never had – separation from God through sin. (If you want to know how this plays out then read all of Psalm 22.) It is my belief that Jesus did not die from crucifixion but from separation from God because of our sins – this means that no one is more guilty of killing Jesus than we are.
Jesus died and the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom. The Jewish temple in Jerusalem had six segregated parts: 1) The outer court or Court of the Women where any Jewish person could go (the women had a special door where they could stand and look into the inner court to see a sacrifice that was being made specifically for them). 2) The Court of the Israelites where Jewish men could go inside the inner court. 3) The Court of the Priests where any priest could go at any time. 4) The area of sacrificing where only priests who were working in the temple could go. 5) The Holy Place where only priests could go who were doing very specific jobs. 6) The Holy of Holies, the throne of God, where only the High Priest could go only one day a year.
The curtain separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies or in other words in separated the people from God. The tearing of the curtain shows that God is now directly available to the people – there are no more segregated levels of access.
A Roman army officer watched Jesus die. He had probably watched many people die in battle, on crosses, and other ways. But watching Jesus die was different and he knew it. He said, “This man really was the Son of God!”
Jesus’ friends now had less than three hours to get him down from the cross, clean his body, and find a place to put him before the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset. Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask permission to do this. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was already dead. Crucified people sometimes lived for days hanging on a cross.
Jesus and the two criminals were crucified in an old rock quarry just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Joseph of Arimathea and other Jews had begun using the old quarry as a place of burial – rock that was not good enough for building was good enough for tombs. Joseph had Jesus’ body prepared and entombed there less than two hundred feet from where he was crucified.
Caring for the needs of our church and community through prayer, deeds, inspiration and love in the Spirit of Christ.
Sunday Worship: 8 am & 10 am
Adult & Children & Youth Sunday School 9 am
First Kids Mother's Day Out
(Tuesday & Thursday; 8am to 2pm; Ages 1-3)
Rev Pat Bell, Pastor
First United Methodist Church Sealy
200 Atchison Street
Sealy, Texas 77474