“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:3
Today’s Scripture Reading: Mark 14:43-15:47
Today is traditionally known as Good Friday. It’s the most difficult day of Passion Week. Jesus’ journey turns ugly in these final hours leading to his death. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who has already betrayed Jesus, becomes overcome with guilt early on this day and commits suicide, by hanging himself.
Meanwhile, all before 9 a.m., Jesus experiences tremendous humiliation. He endures false accusations, denunciation, ridicule, thrashings, and abandonment. Yes, even his closest friends and followers desert him. After multiple unlawful trials, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, one of the most horrifying and dreadful forms of capital punishment. He is forced to carry his cross until he can no longer move beneath its weight.
At 9 a.m., Jesus is nailed to the cross and the torture of crucifixion begins. He is crucified alongside two common thieves. While he hangs there in agony, Jewish priests and theologians hurl insults at him and mock him. His disciples have fled and are scattered. They are hiding in the crowds or in the shadows.
At noon, darkness falls over the whole region and God, himself, abandons Jesus. The Father cannot continue to associate with his own Son. Jesus realizing God has left him, shouts in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[i] The external, physical pain is beyond comprehension. Yet, greater still is the internal pain of separation from his Father.
Why did God abandon his Son? One word: Sin. As we discovered on Monday, sin is going against God and against his design. Sin is going astray. It’s going A.W.O.L. It’s venturing out on our own. The Prophet Isaiah puts it this way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”[ii] Everything said, done, or thought against God, and against his perfect will, is sin. As Jesus hangs on the cross, all our sin rests on him. Sin has a price and that price is death.[iii] Jesus is paying the price for our sin. And each one of us has sinned.[iv] With our sin resting upon Jesus, the Father can no longer associate with him. God turns his back on him. Jesus must pay the price.
What torture Jesus had to endure on this Friday for us to be set free! Satan and the world unleashed its fury against him and the God he represented. Jesus wins in the end but it costs him a great price. Our responsibility is to embrace what he did for us, follow his leadership, and consider what he endured. By considering him, we can have strength to endure also in our struggles. Considering him, empowers us.
- Did you discover anything fresh about Jesus in your reading today? Anything personal?
- How could considering what Jesus endured on this day give you greater strength in your trials?