Today is Good Friday, the day millions around the world give remembrance to the day Jesus was crucified. The story is one of betrayal, horrific violence, misunderstandings, power struggles, deceit, false accusations and sacrificial love beyond comprehension. With everything happening in the world, today is possibly one of the most unique Good Fridays in history.
The Friday Jesus was executed (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 22, John 18) began with his arrest probably well before sunrise and the Jewish religious leaders turning him over to Pilate, the Roman governor over Israel at that time. Jesus is brought before Pilate while the Jewish priests and elders bring various accusations they believe will give Pilate reason to execute him but after questioning Jesus Pilate finds no reason to bring charges against him. After more attempts and appeals by Jewish religious leaders, Pilate still wants to release Jesus. So, according to an annual Passover festival tradition, he gave the massive crowd that has gathered the choice to release Jesus or a well known criminal named Barabbas. Pilate is shocked when the crowds demand he release Barabbas and begin to shout “crucify him” when asked what to do with Jesus. Pilate, still not finding reason to execute Jesus, symbolically washes his hands to signify Jesus death was not in him and proceeds to have Jesus whipped, beaten and crucified to avoid civil disorder.
You would think the Jewish leaders would have finally been quieted after getting what they wanted by eliminating Jesus (so they thought), but they had one more complaint for Pilate. Above Jesus head on the cross he was crucified on was a sign that read, “King of the Jews.” The Jewish leaders protested to Pilate to have the sign changed to “this man claimed to be the King of the Jews” but Pilate refused.
Good Friday April 10th, 2020
For everyone reading this in 2020, it is obvious what makes this moment in history so unique. As Christians around the world are remembering Jesus, the King who came to die that we might have life (John 3), we are in a worldwide “shut in” much like the original Passover in Egypt in 1451 BC because of a virus called Corona. The word “corona” has a couple meanings but, ironically, one of them is “crown.”
Pilate gave Jesus the title of “King”. The Jewish leaders were indignant because they completely rejected Him as King and wanted Him executed and I can’t help but notice Jesus was pronounced King despite their disagreement and disbelief. Pilate, on the other hand, did not find any evidence to bring charges against Him but ultimately sentenced Him to death even as he literally and ceremonially washed his hands of Jesus death.
The truth is Jesus didn’t go to the cross simply because of false accusations and political power-plays to appease the masses. No, He went to the cross as the “Passover Lamb” to take away our sin and restore us to relationship with God (Matthew 1:20-23).
It wasn’t the judicial sentence of a Roman official that put Jesus on a cross, it was the sin of all humanity. Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders were just representatives of all of us. Pilate, in essence, said, “Jesus is a good man, so am I and I am not responsible for His death.” If pressed, most humans would actually say the same thing. We like to believe we are good people and it is not of our wrong doing that He died and shed blood in or place.
Pilate, in essence, said, “Jesus is a good man, so am I and I am not responsible for His death.”
If pressed, most humans would actually say the same thing.
The Jewish leaders represented religion. Religion (and humanism or any other belief system that bases being right with God on our behavior) says, “You don’t need a savior or a king, you can save yourself and be made right with God by your own good behavior and works.”
I don’t know about you, but I see myself a few times in the story.
I see that I have been a religious person demanding judgment and believing I was good enough on my own. I see that I was like Pilate believing Jesus was a good man and I was too so I was not responsible for His death. I was Barabbas who was released from the sentence I deserved as I watch Jesus take my place.
Some traditions actually say Pilate became a believer in Jesus even to the point of being martyred for his faith and actions testifying that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. If it is true, I will not be surprised. What an amazing thought to think the man who sentenced Jesus to death will actually be by His side, gracious, forgiven and accepted for all of eternity.
Happy Good Friday to you as we remember the crucified King.