First glow of dawn was just showing when they led Him back into the courtyard. Bruises and bloody cuts showed on his face. Chief priests and teachers awaiting him stood as a group fanned around Him so they could see the man. For this moment they had readied themselves.
One of the chief priests looked at Him and with disgust asked, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” The man’s swollen lips moved and looking into the eyes of the questioner responded, “I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
The quiet was shattered by voices of differing pitch and tone asking, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am.” Then the religious leaders said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from His own lips.”
The whole group of them moved at once with someone yanking Jesus’ by the arm as they made their way to Pilate’s, the Roman Governor, house. Learned men. Men with some discernment, brought weak, baseless charges. Pilate’s answer, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Even Herod agreed with Pilate. And so the day went. No one could mount a substantiated or justifiable charge.
Astonishingly, it seems no one heard the Word of God from the prophet Isaiah ringing in their ears: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” For in some twisted sense of justice they made sure He was familiar with suffering. Beaten, flogged, mocked, rejected by His own people, and forced to carry the huge cross beam to Golgotha, “the Skull”.
There in view seen for great distance, even from across the valley, Jesus was crucified and displayed on the cursed cross. There, with spikes driven through His flesh, He was hung, and the prophetic words of Isaiah were fulfilled:
Surely he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
Yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed…
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Jesus died the terrible death that is rightly ours to die. He went to the cross and chose to die in our place. That’s why Paul wrote, “You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Paul goes on to write, “Since we now have been justified by His blood, how much more will we be saved from God’s wrath.” (Romans 5:9) I deserved God’s wrath for my sin, but Jesus, sinless and perfect, had my iniquity, my sin, placed on Him.
That’s why we call it Good Friday! It’s the day when God’s Son bore the most unjust sentencing and punishment so that we could be reconciled to God. Thus, God remained holy and just while showing us the greatest of gracious compassion.
As we approach sundown, remember that it was about then Satan watched the lifeless devastation that was Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. As the stone rolled into place over the mouth of tomb, he thought he had defeated God once for all. But…