April 7, 2023
For followers of Jesus, Good Friday is an important day because it celebrates the most momentous weekend in the history of our faith. For Jesus, Thursday became Friday as He prayed in the Garden. He was arrested around 2am, brought before Caiaphas sometime between 3 and 4am, witnessed Peter’s denials around 4:30 am, questioned by the Sanhedrin at 5am, then shuffled between Pilate and Herod between 6 and 9am. The story thickens as Jesus is then turned over to the Roman guards.
We read in the Bible that before His crucifixion, the Roman soldiers attempted to humiliate the Lord. Matthew writes, “Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on His head, and they placed a reed stick in His right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before Him in mockery and taunted, ‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ And they spit on Him and grabbed the stick and struck Him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him again. Then they led Him away to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:27-31)
We then read in the Bible that Jesus, even though He was innocent, was led away to be crucified. Matthew writes, “Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘Place of the Skull’). The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when He had tasted it, He refused to drink it. After they had nailed Him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against Him. It read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ Two revolutionaries were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. ‘Look at You now!’ they yelled at Him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if You are the Son of God, save Yourself and come down from the cross!’ The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. ‘He saved others,’ they scoffed, ‘but He can’t save Himself! So He is the King of Israel, is He? Let Him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in Him! He trusted God, so let God rescue Him now if He wants Him! For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with Him ridiculed Him in the same way.” (Matthew 27:32-44)
Then, we learn from the Bible about the death of the Lord Jesus. Matthew writes, “At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned Me?’ Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to Him on a reed stick so He could drink. But the rest said, ‘Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save Him.’ Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, ‘This man truly was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:45-54)
As the centurion said, Jesus truly was the Son of God and He gave His life for you and for me, not because we earned or deserved it but because He loves us. The Apostle Paul sums this up by writing, “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Write out a prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for giving His life for You on Good Friday. Then pray it aloud, thanking Him for His love. If you’re leading your family through this devotion time, have each person complete the same exercise.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, thank You for giving Your life for me on Good Friday. Thank You for loving me. In the name of Jesus, Amen.