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GOOD FRIDAY: How Awe-Full

Jesus of Nazareth, THE KING OF THE JEWS

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If you’re anything like me, when you were growing up, you were completely oblivious to terms like Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. You certainly would have had no idea that any of that led up to the big holiday in the springtime called Easter… or why!

My friend, now that I DO know, I anticipate this season each year with even more depth than the years before. Only in the year 2001, did we miss Holy Week. I was a brand-new nursing mother then.

(We did make Palm Sunday, though, as that is the day our baby boy was baptized – with 11 of his 12 godmothers in attendance!)

Lent is not the stuff you find clinging to a mesh screen on the tumble dryer. Lent is the six-week season on the church calendar that leads up to Easter. It is a time of repentance and reflection; of penitence and prayer. We typically gather for a meal with our congregation before the mid-week services. We hear again, the beautiful story of our Savior – and why we so desperately need Him.

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. It’s at the beginning of what we call in our church, Holy Week. We remember the lowly pomp of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. We recall the waving of palm branches, and the cloaks strewn on the road, and we sing Hosanna to our King.

Maundy Thursday we remember the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus’ last supper with His disciples. Heart-wrenching prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Drops of sweat like blood. Perfect obedience to His Father’s will.

I must say —  I do love THIS PART in the Book of John where the great I Am is talking to the crowd who came out to arrest Jesus!

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

(John 18:2-6)

But, it’s hard to take when a whole crowd, armed with swords and clubs, was sent out to arrest Him! Jesus was disowned, abandoned, blindfolded, beaten, and mocked. He endured an illegal trial in the middle of the night. They hit Him with their fists and pulled out His beard. They spit on Him and struck His head with a staff. Guards twisted a crown of thorns and pressed it onto His head. They dressed Him in a purple robe and mocked Him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”

GOOD FRIDAY,  the day of the crucifixion. Nails pierced His hands and feet, but they are not what held Jesus on that cross. His love for me, and for you, is what held Him there.  Jesus’ death paid for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of the whole world. Darkness. The hush is heavy when people leave the sanctuary in silence. 

It was nine in the morning when they crucified Him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Mark 15:25-26)

Mark 15:25-26

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Mark 15:33-34

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:28-30

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:39

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Matthew 27:57-61

I apologize for the heavy use of quotes. It’s just really hard to say it better myself. It would be pointless and even tragic if this were the end of the story.

(Spoiler alert!) That stone they rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb… it was rolled away in three days… NOT to let Jesus OUT, but to let the disciples IN!

...an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone...

Matthew 28:2

Until Easter Sunday, then, my friend!

Anna

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