Today, Good Friday, Jesus is beaten and crowned with thorns. He is forced to carry a heavy Cross, He is nailed to it, and He suffers excruciating pain for three hours while He atones for our sins and then finishes the Passover. There are no better words to describe this than in the Gospel. Read carefully the words from John's Gospel.
Soak in the cowardliness of Pilate. How he orders Jesus to be scourged and then crucified even though he finds no fault with Jesus. How many times have you sinned—or allowed sin to happen—out of fear for your own well-being?
Take note of who is at the foot of the Cross. Only one of the Twelve. The rest are hiding away frightened for themselves or perhaps unable to face the horror they cannot undo. Either way, they abandon Jesus in His darkest hour. How many times have you left a friend in need because it was inconvenient or too emotionally draining to spend time with him/her?
Be attentive to the Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled, not for His sake (Jesus knew Who He was) but so that we could have a tangible basis for our belief even before we have a mature faith.
See how Jesus, even in suffering and death, doesn’t neglect the Law: He is the priest offering sacrifice for the chosen people. He is the sacrificial Passover Lamb Whose blood saves the firstborn (and all those adopted into the fold). He completes the Passover meal as God prescribed in the Old Testament, by drinking wine from the hyssop branch. How many times have you ignored the commandments because they are inconvenient or because we are saved by grace, and so the rules obviously don’t apply? (Consider this: If Jesus followed the rules, and He is our perfect example, then what does that say about rules?) It is only after He has suffered and bled and completed the Passover, that he then gives over his Spirit.
Today, at 3PM, the hour which marks the death of Jesus, take some time to reflect on His Passion—this act, which saves you and me from eternal death. Call to mind times when you have sinned, and then, as Jesus did, give your spirit back to the Father. “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”
As a meditation, call to mind anything you’ve done that has caused Jesus to suffer, and then give yourself–sin and goodness–completely to God. “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Allow Jesus to take the weight of your sins, thank Him for His love and sacrifice, and then give yourself completely to God. “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Repeat the words aloud so that you may hear them with your own ears, and they can more fully sink into your mind and heart.
Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
“What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.