Friday was a long day. From the illegal, false trial in the wee black hours before dawn until late in the afternoon when Christ gave His life, Jesus had a long day.
He suffered every agony imaginable: sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, and captivity. He was falsely accused, denied by His followers, mocked, whipped, cursed, and rejected by His Own people.
He silently endured Roman soldiers crushing a crown of thorns into His Head, roughly wrapping that purple robe around His bleeding shoulders, shoving a reed sceptre into His Hand, and mockingly bowing to this king of their captives.
But while the blood drained from the holes in His hands and feet, and the oxygen drained from His lungs, six men in Jerusalem were forever changed by their interactions with Him that good, long Friday.
Peter. Oh, we love Peter. He so authentically bumbles and says all the things everyone else is too sophisticated to say (but they really want to say). He hops in with so much enthusiasm and so little wisdom, and yet God uses that rawness later in Peter’s life, though in this moment He denied Christ.
The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said, “Before the cock crow, you will deny me thrice.” And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”Luke 22:61, 62
Pilate. I pity this man. Though he’d signed up for the prestige and challenge of this Judean post, he had not signed up to have the blood of God on his hands. And he tried–how he tried–to convince the Jews that it wasn’t a good idea to kill this innocent man. In his moment of truth, he chose his reputation and his work and condemned Christ.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, “Art thou a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears My Voice.”
Pilate said unto Him, “What is truth: And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in Him no fault at all.”
Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, “Behold the man!”
When the chief priests therefore, and officers saw Him, the cried out, saying “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”
Pilate said unto them, “Take ye Him, and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him.”John 18:37-38; 9:5-6 *I recommend reading John 9:7-16 as well.
The thief on the cross. Nameless he remains, but he is one of my heroes because he had the humility to admit he was wrong and ask for forgiveness. He had the courage to stand up against unjust blame even when he was in great agony himself, and he received Jesus’ promise, “Today you shall be with me in paradise,” for he’d recognized Christ.
One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him saying, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
But the other answering rebuked him saying, “Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss.”
And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto you, Today you shall be with Me in paradise.”Luke 23:39-43
Simon of Cyrene. This father of Alexander and Rufus answered the command that day and stepped in and did what neither of Jesus fathers could do. Christian tradition believes Simon and his sons became part of the early church, but all we know for sure is this: he carried Christ’s cross.
And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross.Mark 15:21
John. Jesus loved this disciple and trusted him so much that in His dying moments He entrusted to John the sacred responsibility of caring for His mother. Though in those moments John suffered grief at the death of his friend and his hope, he relieved Christ.
When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He said unto His mother, “Woman, behold they son!”
Then said He to the disciple, “Behold they mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.John 19:26-27
Joseph of Arimathaea. We need this man. Every story needs a rich person to come along and cover for the need at hand and Joseph did. He offered his own tomb, bore the shame of being associated with this hated man, and took Jesus down from the cross. Joseph declared his allegiance the day he buried Christ.
Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus. . . and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus. . . for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.John 19:38-42
For Christ it was a long Friday, but for four of these men, it was a good Friday, just like it is for all who recognize Christ and take up His cross.
Lord Jesus, You no longer walk on earth as You did then, but You do walk among us as the burdened, destitute, and lonely. Help us to be among those who step in and help carry the loads of those burdened down by worry and pain. Teach us to recognize You in the needs of others. A-men.
*If you don’t want to miss the rest of this series, enter your e-mail at the top to receive them in your inbox. If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here: Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday.