No Other Week Like This: Friday
Today, we continue our sorrowful yet hopeful observance as we remember the story of the day the Lord was killed. Yet this time we find that there is an excitement in the air. The story ends with Jesus in the grave yet there are textual markers that seems to say “wait, there is more.”
Hope in the Text
The first textual marker that should give hope is found in verses Luke 22:67-71. As Jesus is being called to account before the High Priest we read, “‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ So they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’ And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.'”
Though this becomes the very reason the Pharisees kill Jesus, it is reason the reader can find hope. He would soon be seated at the right hand of the power of God. No matter what happens to Him next, the reader knows the authority that Jesus has and claims.
After the first examination of Jesus, He was bounced around from one authority to the next. Pilate, Herod, and back to Pilate; neither of them found Jesus guilty. Luke 23: 14-16 states the following: “you brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”From then on the Pharisees seized control by inciting the crowd in order to force Pilate’s hand. Pilate unwillingly turned over Jesus to the desire of the crowd, washing his hand of their judgment.
The Son of Man Lifted
What happens next in the story is the peak of history and the culmination of God’s sovereign plan. As Jesus is led from the city to the hill of the skull. There He was nailed, hands and feet, on two wooden beams and lifted up for all to see. This mental image should remind us of what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
After Jesus was lifted up we find the next text that offers hope. Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One of the criminals mocked Him and the second worshiped Him. We can find hope in the promise Jesus makes to the second criminal. Luke 23:43 reads,
“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The promise reminds us that the death on the cross is not the end for Jesus or His followers. Paradise is their destiny.
After this, Jesus dies, and though it is not recorded in Luke, Matthew records the earth crying out in validation of the messiah, giving hope for all who would believe. Matthew 27:51-54 tells us,
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and visited many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!'”
When everything had calmed down, Jesus’ body is removed from the cross and placed in a tomb.
Why Do We Observe This Day?
We observe Good Friday to remember the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus. Jesus laid Himself down in our place, promising in John 10 that he has the authority to take it back up again. Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (Jn. 10:18)
On Good Friday, the church celebrates this promise as we mourn the death of our Savior. On this day, we remember the brutality of the death that we deserved and find hope because the punishment was given to another.