We’ve heard the story of Good Friday many times. You may have heard the song “Via Dolorosa” or participated in a Tenebrae. Today I would like you to stop and think of a few amazing God-incidences on this most solemn day in history.
Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry Jesus’ cross. Jesus had been beaten to a pulp to fulfill Isaiah 53. He had been mocked, a crown of thorns was placed on His head, and He (and all who were convicted and sentenced to crucifixion) was expected to carry His cross to the place of execution as a sign of His guilt. There’s no way He could carry that cross – He was guilty of nothing!
The darkness came over the earth for three hours. Darkness is a sign of divine judgment (Isaiah 13:10-11; Joel 2:1, 2; Amos 5:20; Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). This three-hour darkness preceded the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. For three days before the first Passover lamb was sacrificed, Egypt was in darkness (Exodus 10:21-23).
God created the earth – the “old creation” – in six days and then rested (Genesis 2:1-3). In six hours, Jesus finished the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and rested in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.
The temple curtain – an incredibly heavy and thick curtain – was torn in two, top to bottom, at the moment of Jesus’ death; symbolizing the tearing down of the separating wall between God and humanity (I would have loved to see the priest’s faces as the curtain ripped!). (Hebrews 9:11-10:22).
At the moment of Jesus’ death, it’s recorded that He shouted. Because of the pressure on the condemned person’s body, most people suffocated. Jesus’ shout proved that even at the point of death, He was still in control. His death was voluntary from beginning to end. He had enough strength to shout, so He would have had sufficient strength to call down angels to rescue Him.
Pilate, the vacillating, weak-kneed Pilate, he who washed his hands of the matter and did everything he could to have Jesus released, wrote the first Gospel tract:
THIS IS JESUS
THE KING OF THE JEWS
Many prophecies were fulfilled on this day. For instance, Jesus’ crucifixion between two thieves:
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12 (ESV)
Jesus’ garments divided:
They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalms 22:18 (ESV)
Jesus’ refusal of drink:
They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. Psalms 69:21 (ESV)
Did you enjoy Psalm 22? It’s interesting that David predicted a crucifixion hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, even though David never saw a crucifixion! We don’t know exactly why David wrote this Psalm (there’s nothing in his life that parallels). This Psalm wasn’t written by a sick soldier. It is a description of a criminal being executed. It’s also the Psalm most frequently quoted in the Gospels.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my[w] groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and[f] despised by the people. 7 All who see me[g] mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have[a] pierced my hands and feet — 17 I can count all my bones— they[b] stare and gloat over me; 18 [c] they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalms 22:1-18 (ESV)
Today Jesus died. If He were just any man, it would have been the end of the story. But Jesus wasn’t a man – He was God’s Son. As Jesus was entombed, the Romans sealed the grave to keep His disciples from stealing the body and claiming He was risen. Tomorrow we will see that the tomb is opened – and the body isn’t there!
Thanks for continuing to read my blog – but more important, I commend you for reading through the Bible this year. I look forward to hearing your insights as always. Leave me a comment or send me an email!
See you tomorrow as we celebrate His resurrection.