This week, I wanted to write something to explain Good Friday since that is today. The whole story is rather long, so you might want to have someone read it all to you from the Bible, but here is the shortened version, and what I believe it means to us. I took part of the retelling this from Sermon4Kids, so I need to give credit to them for their part I used.
When Jesus lived here on earth and grew up, He had 12 close friends He called His disciples. He was having dinner with them in the Upper Room at Passover, and He said, “One of you is going to give Me to my enemies.” His disciples looked at each other, wondering who it might be and saying not me. But Jesus told them, “ALL of you will run away because you will be afraid when they come to take Me away.” The disciple Peter said, “I will never turn away from You even if ALL the others do.” Jesus said, “Yes, even you will, Peter. In fact, you will say you don’t even know Me 3 times before the rooster crows in the morning.”
Jesus already knew all that was going to happen to Him, and He was going to let it happen because Jesus loves us and knew this would be the only way our sins could be forgiven. Now Jesus looked at Judas, another of His disciples, and said, “Go, do it quickly.” You see, Judas was jealous of Jesus and had gone to the high priests and asked them how much they would pay him to lead them to Jesus. Judas knew they wanted to kill Him. They were jealous of Jesus because He could do miracles, and He was king of the Jews. They already had a king and thought Jesus wanted to take over the government. The high priests told Judas they’d give him 30 pieces of silver, so Judas went to collect his money and lead them to Jesus.
After dinner, Jesus and some of His disciples went to a garden/park to pray. Jesus prayed to God and asked if there was any other way for people to have their sins forgiven other than for Him to die? Jesus realized the pain He was going to have to suffer, but He was willing to do it.
Judas knew where they were going, so he led the soldiers to the place. The soldiers came with torches and swords. Judas had told the soldiers the one I kiss is Jesus, just so they’d make no mistake which one was Jesus in the dark. Judas kissed Jesus, and the soldiers grabbed Him, tied Him up, and took Him away to Pilate (the governor) who was in charge like a king.
Pilate asked Jesus if it was true that He claimed to be king of the Jews. Jesus answered, “Yes, this is true.” This made the people go wild they were so upset by Jesus’ answer. They yelled, “Crucify Him.” (That means kill Him.) Pilate asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus didn’t try and defend Himself because He knew the people didn’t really care.
Pilate said to the people that he couldn’t find anything bad that Jesus had done. “What do you want me to do with Him?’ Pilot asked them. The crowd started yelling louder and louder “Crucify Him; crucify Him.” So Pilate, not wanting the people to turn against him, had Jesus whipped. The whip had pieces of metal and glass in it, so this was very painful to Jesus, and His back had open wounds. Next, the soldiers blind folded Jesus and took turns hitting Him over and over again. Then they put a purple robe and a crown made out of sharp, thorns on Jesus. (Kings wore purple robes and crowns.)They made fun of Him, pushing Jesus around and saying, “Hail king of the Jews.”
Finally, the soldiers put Jesus’ clothes back on Him and put a huge, heavy wooden cross on His back to carry up the street to a hill to kill Him on it. As Jesus was carrying the cross, He fell in the street and could walk no more because He was so weak from all the beatings. The soldiers grabbed a man on the street and made him carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way. When they got to the hill called Golgotha, which means skull because it looks like a skeleton head from a distance, the soldiers hammered big nails in Jesus hands and feet and picked the cross up, putting it between two bad men.
They lifted poor Jesus up there until they thought He was dead and then stabbed Him in the side just to make sure. The sky turned pitch black in the middle of the day, and a big earthquake happened that shook everyone. They took Jesus off the cross and put Him in a grave; it was like a cave. They rolled a huge heavy rock in front of the grave and put a soldier outside of it because they had heard rumors that Jesus would come back to life.
We know that in three days that is just what happened. Jesus did come back to life (resurrected) on what we now celebrate as Easter – this Sunday.
Jesus suffered greatly that Friday – more than we can ever imagine. He carried out God’s plan of salvation for you and me because He loved us so much that He wanted us to be forever forgiven of our sins and able to live with Him in heaven. The Bible says that there is no love greater than to give one’s life for a friend. This is exactly what Jesus did because He is our friend forever and ever. This is a sad story for sure when we think of Jesus’ physical and mental pain that day, but remember the even more important part of the story: Jesus’ resurrection that Sunday morning when all the earth rejoiced in His re-life.
As you wake up to Easter baskets, colored eggs, and candy this Sunday, take a few moments to remember the real reason we celebrate Easter and tell Jesus thank You for all He did then and still does for us now. Then have a chocolate Easter egg to celebrate!
Let’s say a prayer for Easter. Thank You Jesus for suffering and dying for us, so that we might be able to ask forgiveness when we do wrong and then live with You forever. Help us to always remember the joy of Easter and its real meaning. Happy Easter Jesus! We love You! Amen.
Ann Moody is a retired pastor, formerly of the Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.