He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and familiar with pain; and as one from whom others hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and carried our suffering; yet we consider Him punished by God, struck down by Him, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His bruises we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5, NRSV)
Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him; they also blindfolded Him and kept asking Him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck You? They kept heaping many other insults on Him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought Him to their council. The said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it from His own lips!” (Luke 22:63-71, NRSV)
Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have Him flogged and then release Him.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that He should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished… Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:20-25;34, NRSV)
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Good Friday fills us all with a roller coaster of emotions. If you are like me when reading these passages, then you probably started to feel your blood pumping as your eyes went further down the page.
I read the crucifixion story with complete amazement. I am taken aback, frustrated, confused, and angered. Our miraculous Jesus spent His last day of life defined by undeserved abuse after abuse. And on this side of the cross, we do not understand how these people could ever treat Him like this. After every sign He performed, every person He healed, and every life He changed, this is certainly not just.
The mockery. The beatings. The lies. The accusations. The blindness. It all feels so…inhuman. But what these passages teach – what Good Friday brutally proclaims – is just how fallen humanity is.
If you were to dive into each of the Gospels to read about this particular day in history, you would find only one person who remains unwaveringly obedient, loving, authentic, peaceful, and full of forgiveness.
And that one person is our Messiah.
Until recently, I never noticed just how much “Good Friday” highlights and displays the reality of “bad humanity.” From the chaotic Jews who were found screaming and rioting to get their way; the Roman guards and officials who used this as another opportunity to exercise their power, authority, and competence; the leadership who fell prey to immorality and unlawfulness; and even Jesus’ own disciples – who either ran, hid, or denied their way out of trouble.
Yes, there were some who stayed by Jesus’ side even to His death, but on humanity’s darkest day, only one man remained completely righteous – Jesus. And this is a miracle in and of itself.
With every step forward, He proved to have genuine obedience. With every blow to His body, spit in His face, and degrading yell, He revealed a deep level of patient love. His pain, His struggle, and His humanity, told of His abiding authenticity. And His last words to His Father display the extent of His forgiveness: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
I would not have done this.
You would not have done this.
We would have yelled back; defended ourselves and made our case. Some of us would have thrown punches. We would have used our power to put them in their place; to silence them all with our glory. We would have dried that spit up before it ever touched our face. And we certainly would not have asked for our Father to forgive those people.
We would have acted different.
In fact, we would have acted fallen.
Good Friday reminds us of the extent of our sin in comparison to the innocence of our Jesus. Here, humanity proved itself in need of a life-changing miracle; Jesus’ life. But the truth does not stop there. You see, there is a huge reason to why Jesus needed to remain pure and blameless. On the cross, Jesus
did not just die an undeserved death, He became the ultimate oxymoron. The most righteous man to ever live chose to bear every bit of humanity’s darkness.
Though Good Friday paints a vivid picture of sin and shame, we must realize that what Jesus did was
become that sin and shame. What the Jews, the guards, the leaders, and the disciples did not realize – what they “knew not” – was that this perfect man was taking on the very punishment that their sin and wrongdoing deserved.
And because Jesus was God, His death turned the tables on reality. God was punished so that man could be saved. Righteousness became sin so that sinful man could become righteous. What a miracle!
Though they did not know what they were doing, I am thankful that Jesus did. I am thankful that He continued forward. That He let them do their acts of complete hate. That their “darkest self” did not scare Him away from being consumed by death so that they – and you and I – could have a real way to be consumed by life.
Good Friday somberly shows us the painful, dark, and shame-filled depths that Jesus plunged into in order to bring us each into victory with Him.
Today, I challenge you to read over the crucifixion story again. Take note of the evident contrast between Jesus and man. And remind your heart that He remained obedient to death so that this stark contrast could be overcome.
Praise God that He made a way for us to become His children; found in His righteousness.
Daily Prayer: Jesus, thank You for taking on my sin. Thank You for turning the tables to allow me to become righteous. Help me to believe more and more that You call me new. Help me to live today with the obedience, love, peace, authenticity, and forgiveness that You displayed. Amen.
Thank you so much for joining us today. Please help us out by sharing this devotion with others. We do hope that you were blessed.
Greg, Declare Glory