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Good Friday

I was sentenced. Found guilty. Never thought anyone would find out. Thought I had hidden it well. But – then there it was. The list of charges seemingly endless. My accusers were abundant. Evidence plentiful. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.

Never followed God or worshipped anyone but me. I went to church, tried to look like I had it together, but inside I was full of deceit, lust, greed, anger, murder, rape, rage, anxiety, fear, disrespect, ungrateful, untrusting and consumed with every vial thought.

I knew my execution was soon. The Romans were masters at torture and death. Slow. Agonizing. Excruciating. Naked. Humiliating. Horrifying. Every nerve in your body screaming and writhing in pain, for hours and days on end. I can’t imagine all that lies before me.

They didn’t just destroy you – they destroyed your family – took everything. Hope long gone.

But then the deeper question. The one just beyond the immediate terror. What happens next? After my death. Deep fear. Unbridled thoughts. Sleepless.

Restless. Anxious.

Guilty.

Every noise in this putrid stinking hell hole shocks me upright. Are they coming?

Is it my turn?

Waiting. Alone in my fears. Will this nightmare never end?

Crowds. Noise. Commotion. Doors banging. Chains rustling. Big loud footsteps of many soldiers. Oh no. The envitable.

Cell open. 6 men all over me. Chains. Shackles. Screams. Laughter. This must be the pit of hell itself. Punches. Choking. Jostled out the door.

Suddenly I’m outside – in front of the governor himself and a large throng of people all shouting my name and saying “crucify Him, crucify Him”. Are they talking about me? Confusion. Why is there a big crowd all stirred up about me?

Who is this man next to me? He looks horrible. The soldiers must have beaten him nearly to death. I’m so confused and scared I can hardly focus. Are those thorns on His head? Blood everywhere. They must have scourged Him. Why a robe? Weird?

Suddenly I am unshackled. Unchained. Pushed down the stairs. What is this? Am I free? Why? What’s happening? Who is this man? They are taking Him where? Crucifixion. Down by the trash dump at Golgotha. Oh my.

How do I describe my feeling. I’m free. So close to death. So very close. So very deserving.

I wonder if there is any skin left on His back? They’ve ripped the robe off and I can’t tell, there is so much blood. Looks like the man hasn’t slept all night. Those solders, the Praetorian guard are hard vicious men. I wonder what all He has gone through. Would that have been me?

Isaiah 52:14 (ERV)

It is true that many were shocked when they saw him. He was beaten so badly that he no longer looked like a man.

He must have been in sheer agony. They’re taking Him to the cross. I can see through the crowds that He’s carrying His own cross.

They never scourge someone and then crucify them. What’s going on?

I must stay back. I don’t want them to change their minds, but I am overwhelmed and intrigued. The crowds are shouting his name Yeshua (Joshua / Jesus). Every obscenity. I thought the language was bad in prison. Stunning. Spitting. Stones thrown. Blood lust.

Fallen. Bruised. Broken. A Libyian is thrust in to carry the cross.

How will the Man climb that hill. Stunning that He can even stand. The whip. The beatings. All are indiscriminate in where they hit you.

Finally up on this wretched hill.

It stinks here. They dump corpses, trash and sewage in the cavernous abyss here.

The smell is overwhelming. Rats. Disease.

They knocked Him down. They are making short work of Him. Clothes off. Naked. Nails. Hammers, Screams. The other two, oh yes I know them. I grew up with them. We were cell mates. It should be me. Surreal. I was supposed to be up there.

This dump is filled with every kind of bird. Circling. Excitement.
Up. A thud as the cross hits bottom.

Gasps for air. I’m told you can’t breathe when your down, you have to push up on the nail in your feet. What pain. Indescribable.

What did He do? Why is He here? What possible reason would there be that He took my place? Where are His friends? Is there no one? I see a few women and one man, but that’s about it. They seem like nice people.

I can’t read. What’s the sign on top of His head? I hear someone read it “King of the Jews”. It occurs to me that I have heard of this Jesus. He is a prophet, a rabbi, or something. Did He profess to be our King? Did He threaten Rome? Why would they kill a rabbi? That’s unheard of.

Hours go by. Slow agonizing.

What’s He saying? He’s talking to one of the women and the man with her. What did He say? I hear it repeated. “Woman behold your son”. “Son behold your mother”.
How agonizing for a mother to watch her son die. How heartbreaking for each of them.

It should’ve been me.

The High Priest is here. He’s shouting at Yeshua. I hear the soldiers, if you’re a God come down from there. If He were our Messiah that would be a dangerous thing to say.

I hear Him say something else, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”.

Did He just speak to God? Who does He think He is? Wouldn’t that be nice. Blasphemy. No one could be so presumptious. Funny almost. The thought of it, I mean, but what if it were true.

Darkness. It’s straight up noon. Why is there darkness? Something’s going on. Weird. Unnerving. People scatter.

I hear the other two arguing. One cursing and raging. Another broken, asking to go to paradise with Joshua. Yeshua said what? Stunning “today you will be with Me in paradise”.

This man must be a lunatic.

For the briefest of moments I wish I was up there with them. I wish it were true and that I could get out of this wretched place and go with them, but this makes no sense.

It must be mid afternoon. About 3. Crowds have long left. I am hiding, crouched down behind some rocks.

Nothing but the moans, the birds, the sobs, the agony and the slowness of time. Just

His few faithful family members and friends remain.

In the darkness I here Him cry out “Abba, Daddy – why have you left me?”.

He just called God, His daddy!

The astonishment of this day, never seem to end.

I heard Him say He was thirsty. I see a guard offering Him something on a sponge. It must be bitter, because of His reaction. These vial Romans, there brutality knows no bounds. The man is dying and you can’t simply offer some water. I hate those people.

Activity. Commotion. Earthquake. What is happening? I heard Him say “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” and then He slumped. He must be dead. Did He just allow Himself to die? Who has that kind of control?

Was He really God’s son? Stunning. Sobering. Was He really the Yeshua HaMaschiach?. Overwhelming. Something very big just happened.

What is that over there? Those are tombs just to the south and people are walking around in grave clothes.

Guards are up. They are breaking the legs of the other two. I hear muttering among the soldiers and suddenly a spear is thrust into His side. Blood and Water are pouring out.

My brain and my senses are exploding – my heart is pounding. I am exhausted and fully awake.

“Surely He was the son of God” – that’s quite a statement from a Roman. Wow.
Someone just ran by shouting that the curtain in the temple had torn in two from top to bottom and the Holy of Holies was visible and He had seen it. How can this be? He would be dead, wouldn’t He? No one has access to God – no one can see Him and live – Impossible.

This day seems to have been full of the impossible becoming possible.

I didn’t deserve my freedom. Who is this God who comes and suffers and dies for me? What god is there like Him? Who is God that He is mindful of me?

Psalm 8:4-5 (NASB)

4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

He took my place. I am free. Now what? I am tired and ready to sleep for a week, but I must go tell someone what has happened. The price that was paid. Rivers of tears. Brokenness. I deserved the price He paid. How can I possibly contain this overwhelming joy? Oh Lord, I am sorry. Oh Lord, I am broken before you. Oh Lord, forgive me. Make a way for me. How can I keep from singing your name? Oh Lord, please don’t let me forget.

Psalm 103:1-13 (NASB)

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Isaiah 52:13-ff (NASB)

Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

Isaiah 53 (NASB)

The Suffering Servant

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

1 Peter 2:24 (NASB)

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them

Hebrews 4:16 (NASB)

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (ERV)

But as the Scriptures say,
“No one has ever seen,
no one has ever heard,
no one has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Ephesians 2:17-19 (NASB)

AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

John 3:16-17 (NASB)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
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