The Darkest Dark

The Darkest Dark

On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each believer tries to understand what it cost Jesus to win our redemption.

As I sit here on this Good Friday the oppression weighs heavy on my spirit. I love how my friend Alicia put it

The Grunt in my heart of hearts is the best expression of how I feel this “GOD” FRIDAY MORNING! There are NO WORDS-just deep Holy Spirit-led WORSHIP springing up from the depths of my being… HE DIED FOR SINS! MY SINS!

It is not a day of celebration but of mourning, both for the death of Jesus and for the sins of the world which His death represents.

The night before, Jesus had His last supper with His disciples, men who followed Him from the beginning of His ministry. They had listened to His teachings, saw Him healing and casting out demons.

Jesus came to radically change the world. He had been preparing His disciples for His death throughout His earthly ministry. But it was so beyond their comprehension that they couldn’t grasp it. Not yet, but in a few days, that would change.

Jesus’ last night

Jesus spent His last night with these men teaching them what they needed to know before He was gone. What is so fascinating to me is the last command that He gave them

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. – John 13:34

Why this command?

I’ve pondered this for many years. Why this command?

I’ve commented tongue in cheek (with a twist of truth) – “It’s because Jesus knew how hard it would be to deal with other believers. After all, ministry would be great if it weren’t for people.”

I believe I have had an epiphany – Perhaps He knew they already loved God with all their hearts, which they already demonstrated by leaving their previous lives, taking up their cross, and following Him.

So why this command? Love one another even as I have loved you.  Perhaps He knew that after He was gone life as they had known it was about to be radically different. Persecution, suffering, and pain lie ahead. They must be unified to stand firm and to carry out their God-given purpose.

I am beginning to think it was more than that.

I wonder if it had to do more with the new “rules”. Instead of the 613 laws of the previous religious institution of the Pharisees, Jesus said these are the most important – Love God and to Love people (Matthew 22:34-39).

Love one another – Perhaps it was the last command because it would help them keep focused on what they were called to do.

Sorry, I got a little distracted, so let’s move on.

Friday

It is Friday morning and Jesus has been transferred from the Jewish to the Roman authorities.

We aren’t going to look at all the events of Friday but I wanted you to see them and encourage you to read about them so you can see in the Word the gravity of the day.

  • Jesus’ sentencing by the Jews (Matthew 27:1-2)
  • Judas’ death (Matthew 27:3-10)
  • Jesus’ sentencing by the Romans (Matthew 27:11-26)
  • The mocking of the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31)
  • Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-44)
  • Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:45-56)
  • Jesus’ burial (Matthew 27:57-61)
  • The guard placed at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-64)

Jesus stands before the Jews

Judas led the temple guards to the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  After His arrest, the temple guards took Jesus to Annas, a former High Priest, and father-in-law of the current High Priest, Caiaphas (John 18). After questioning Jesus, Annas sent Him to Caiaphas, the High Priest. There Jesus was questioned, condemned by false witnesses, spit upon, and viciously beaten.

Jesus brought to Pontius Pilate

Early Friday morning, the religious leaders of Israel officially declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Because Jerusalem was under Roman law, the Jews did not have the right to execute capital offenders (John 18:31). The Jewish leaders bring Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate, and demand Jesus’s execution.

Judas has an apparent change of heart. He is “seized with remorse”. Judas does acknowledge his sin and Jesus’ innocence, but he does not demonstrate the mark of genuine repentance. (more about what true repentance looks like in another blog)

Judas confesses and tries to return the money the Jewish leaders paid him, but they aren’t interested. Responding in anger, he throws the money on the floor and goes out and kills himself.

Pilate’s only concern is whether or not Jesus has broken Roman law.

He asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responds simply, “It is as you say.” While being accused by the Jewish leaders, He did not answer. Then Pilate questions Him and He does not answer even one single charge and Pilate was amazed. Pilate proclaims there is no basis for sentencing and he refers Jesus to King Herod who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus and receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate’s wife has a dream and warns him to “have nothing to do with this righteous man.” Pilate realizes Jesus is innocent but, the Jewish leaders demand crucifixion. At Passover, Pilate often would release one criminal as a sign of goodwill to the Jewish people. He offered the crowd Jesus or the murderer Barabbas. The murderer was set free, and the innocent man was murdered. Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.

Pilate washes his own hands as a sign he has no part in this condemnation. However, in order to prevent a riot and ultimately to keep his job, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus is stripped, beaten with whips, mocked, and beaten again. 

Jesus’ death

Jesus carries His cross to the site of the execution. Finally, at about 9:00 am, Jesus is nailed to a cross and crucified along with two criminals. Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth. He was mocked by the crowds and insulted by the religious leaders. Pilate has Jesus’ crime posted on the cross, above Christ’s head, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Jesus agonized on the cross and then, at noon, the sun stopped shining. And until 3:00, the Light of the world hung in darkness.

At about 3:00, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and died. The veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, and the centurion cried out, “This man really was the son of God.”

Pilate requested confirmation from the centurion that Jesus was dead, a soldier pierced the side of Jesus causing blood and water to flow out. The centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead.

Jesus’ burial

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to His condemnation, requests the body from Pilate. He and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved out of a rock in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They rolled a large rock over the entrance to the tomb. Then they returned home and rested because the Sabbath had begun at sunset.

The Darkest Dark

It was the “darkest dark” of all eternity. The spiritual darkness was even worse than the physical night. The one who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. As one old preacher said, “It was such a horrible sight, the sun refused to shine, and the Son hung between heaven and earth in darkness.”

It was not only physically dark but spiritually dark. I wonder if anyone really noticed?

Although Friday is a solemn time, it is not without its own joy. For while it is important to place the Resurrection against the darkness of Good Friday, the gravity of Good Friday should always be seen with the hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Something to think about

On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’s death in our place. Like Barabbas, we deserved death, but we were set free while the innocent man was crucified. 
Friday was a dark and desperate day. The King of Glory died at the hands of sinners. But “It’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming!” We must always see the gravity of Good Friday in the hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus died for you

God made Him, who did not know sin, to become sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (from 2 Cor 5:21, John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

This means nothing you can do will make Him love you anymore, and nothing you can do will make Him love you any less!
It is always darkest before the light shines through and hope explodes on the horizon!

Recommended Reading

Matthew 27:1-66
Mark 15:16-16:19
Luke 23:26-24:35
John 19:16-20:30

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In case you have missed the previous blogs, I’ve included their links below. It is not too late to read them and meditate on the events of Holy Week prior to and including Christ’s journey.

Extravagant Love

Extravagant Love

Wednesday of Jesus’ Journey

It was probably Wednesday when Jesus had just finished His conversation with the disciples on the Mt of Olives, (known as the Olivet Discourse). He reminded the disciples that the Passover feast was only two days away and that He would be handed over to be crucified. (Matthew 26:1-2) This was not the first conversation He had with them about this, but they still hadn’t really grasped what that meant.

Up to this point Jesus had told His disciples He would be handed over to the Gentiles and be killed but had not used the word crucifixion until now. He was very clear there as He spoke to them, there could be no doubt as to His meaning. His death was only two days away.

About the same time only a few miles away, the chief priest and elders had gathered in the court of the high priest, Caiaphas, and were plotting to sneak up on Jesus and kill Him. However, they didn’t want to do it during the festival  because they were afraid that it might cause a riot among the people. (Matthew 26:3-5) Perhaps the memory of the crowds shouting “Hosanna” and waving palm branches was still on their minds.

There they were scheming to kill both He (Jesus) who raised men from the dead, and he (Lazarus) who was raised from the dead. (John 12:1-11Matthew 26:3-5)

It is really hard to miss the irony here. It appears as though they had no tolerance for men who were raised from the dead or for the Savior who raised them dead.

 

The Alabaster Vial

Jesus was in Bethany eating dinner at Simon the Leper’s house when Mary, Lazarus’ sister, approached Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume. She poured it on His head. (John 12:3-8, Matthew 26:6-13Mark 14:3-9).  (Only John calls her by name.)extravagant love,alabaster jar,kay arthur,precept ministriesDespite discussion over whether or not there were two similar incidents or one the meaning was clear – The King was anointed for His coronation!

What is so significant about the anointing?

In Jewish tradition the kings were anointed to indicate they were the chosen one. For example:

  • David was anointed by Samuel to be the new king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13).
  • The words “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean anointed. Jesus the anointed One, was the chosen One, the King of Glory.

As Jesus lay reclining at the dinner table, the woman entered and in an act of impulsive love, she broke a bottle of very expensive perfume and poured it over our Lord’s head and his feet.

As if that had not been loving enough, she began to wipe his feet with her hair. The woman’s hair was her glory (1 Corinthians 11:15) and she laid her glory literally at the feet of the King of glory!

When was the last time your love of Christ was seen in your impulsive generosity?

 

Anointed for His Rise to Glory!

Some of the disciples were incensed. This was too extravagant! But, Jesus reminded them she had anointed him for His burial. Jesus’ death was on the horizon. The leaders were plotting His demise and this one forgiven sinner was anointing Him for His rise to glory.

Only a few days later Jesus hung on a cross and over His head in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek stood the placard Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (John19:19). The anointed king, crucified for the sins of the people.

This one forgiven sinner in an impulsive act of extravagant generosity anointed the King of Glory for His coronation day. That is Extravagant Love!

And later that evening one unrepentant sinner (Judas) went to the chief priests and sold the King for the price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16)

The King of Glory was crucified for the sins of His people, buried, and raised to ascend back to His rightful place in heaven. And maybe, just maybe the aroma of the anointing oil still fills the rooms of heaven.

 

Something to think about

  • Have you bowed and left your glory lying at the feet of the King of Glory?
  • Is your love extravagant?

Recommended Scripture Reading

John 12:1-8

Matthew 16:21-23

Mark 14:10-11

Luke 22:3-6

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