Matthew 27:45-46 “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“This will hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you.”
How many of us heard those words from a parent right before the rod of correction came down upon our seat of knowledge? At the time, we didn’t quite understand what they meant and it almost seemed cruel. How could it hurt them? We were the ones receiving the pain?
“I am doing this for your own good.”
Again, we heard those words and wondered just what they meant when nothing good seemed to be present at the moment.
Denominational religion has named the days leading up to Easter or Resurrection Sunday, Holy Week. They have created a time of meditation and sacrifice called Lent – forty days of self-denial and sacrifice to focus one’s attention on the sacrifice of the Savior.
But this week, Holy Week, consists of remembering the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples, the events leading up to the crucifixion, the burial and the ultimate resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ – rising victorious over death and Hell.
In days past, businesses would close, work would cease, homes would be silent and families gather to meditate on just what it was that Jesus did for us on the cross. Some churches would hold services and re-enact the ‘Passion of Christ’. We seem to have lost some of the passion ourselves as we go about our day without any thought whatsoever to what we will be celebrating this Sunday.
Biblical Christianity, not religion, gives the most accurate account of what truly happened there in Jerusalem that weekend. When we read the scriptures that pertain to the crucifixion alone, I cannot help but envision the cruel wickedness of the Roman soldiers. The froth and fury of all hellish, demonic wrath unleashed upon Jesus that day cannot even be fathomed by we, who were not there.
But consider, if you will, a few points today as you go about your day.
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah, more than any other of the prophets, gives us a glimpse into just what happened that day.
Jesus didn’t glow or have such features that would draw men unto unto Himself.
Isaiah 53:2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
Plain. Ordinary. Regular. Not words you and I would use to describe our Savior. Yet, Isaiah prophesied these words far in advance of Jesus’ coming. Jesus, Himself told the disciples that He would suffer.
Mark 8:31 “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
The excruciating stress, anguish and burden that our Lord was under, cannot truly be quantified. The evidence of just how stressful, was told in the agony in the garden.
Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
You and I can be under such great stress that medically, the capillaries underneath our skin can burst and the blood will flow out through the skin.
The taking of Him in the garden meant that now Jesus had not slept at all that night and was imprisoned. He was more than fatigued, exhausted and now facing the most intense trial anyone has ever faced.
Roman soldiers of that day were barbaric and inhumane in their treatment of prisoners. When condemned to die, the victim became their plaything for any and all cruel things that came to their mind. Fueled also, by the demonic influences, this became almost unbearable.
Isaiah 50:6 “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
Isaiah 52:14 “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:”
The punching; the beating and the cruel taunting Christ suffered at the hands of these soldiers left Him bloodied and near fatal exhaustion. Between the beating, the punching, the plucking of the beard from His face and the scourging; the Bible says he was nearly unrecognizable as a man.
The scourging alone could have killed Him. Thirty-nine lashes with a cat-o-nine tails was no little whipping with some soft leather. Typically, woven in the leather were sharply cut shells; glass, and stones that when applied with such force; sunk into the skin and tore open the flesh when the whip was pulled back to strike again.
His back, sides and abdomen were ripped apart by the beating He sustained. Three hundred and fifty seven lashes (nine times thirty nine) were laid across the back of our Savior. So bloodied and beaten, many a man died from a scourging. Jesus never spoke one word during this whole ordeal.
Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
When they hit Jesus, this wasn’t just a light slap in the face:
Luke 22:64 “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?”
Jesus knew exactly who it was – yet He said nothing. Even on the cross He said;
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
The trial. The shouts of the crowd rejecting the very Messiah sent to redeem them and all they could say was, “Crucify Him!” His disciples fled and left Him alone. Only John was there at the foot of the cross.
John 19:26-27 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
Stripped naked, Jesus suffered the shame nailed to the cross; hung there for all to see.
Then, the peak and the pinnacle of the crucifixion was when the Father placed on His Son the sins of all mankind. Never before had Jesus ever experienced something so devastating as this – separation from His Heavenly Father.
1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Propitiation – the act of appeasing the wrath of God for sin.
Yet, as it happened, Jesus cried out to the Father:
Matthew 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The Father could not be in the presence of sin. The Father had foreordained this moment. He knew that He would have to turn from His Son. Jesus had never personally sinned. He was perfect, pure and holy.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Then, finally, He said:
John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
So, to call it “Good Friday” seems an oxymoron. Yet we, who know the biblical account, know that it all must needs come to pass for Jesus to fulfill the prophecy of His death, burial and resurrection. The ‘good’ that came of that day bought for us salvation through His blood.
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
As you go about your day today, set aside some time to reflect on just what was done to secure your salvation. May we then tell others the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday!