Our series Crossroads began with a challenge to lay our burdens at the foot of the cross.
On Sunday, we kicked Holy Week off with a look at noise versus praise. Throughout the week,
- We saw Jesus’ example of how we can respond when faced with temptations in our lives
- We explored the tension between healing and what appears to be our unanswered prayers.
- We saw how Jesus cared for and fed His sheep – physically and spiritually
- We saw the pain of heartbreak, denial, and betrayal towards Jesus.
Today, we arrive at the cross. Five short days ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of praise. Today, He stands before many of those same people, but the scene is quite different.
Last night, Jesus was betrayed at the hands of the religious leaders by one of his own. Judas sealed Jesus’ fate with a kiss.
In the morning, Judas realized what he had done and returned the money to the religious leaders, but God’s redemption plan was already in motion.
Judas realizing what he had done, was filled with remorse. It says,
“I have sinned…for I have betrayed innocent blood.” – Matthew 27:4
After he realized what he had done, he went out and hung himself.1 Is suicide the answer for any betrayer?
The Road to the Cross
The Romans were famous for the crucifixions. They took great pride in how people died. Jesus was handed over to Pilate, the governor of the region, to decide whether Jesus would be free or crucified.
Jesus appeared before Pilate, and he asked Him one question,
“Are you the king of the Jews?” – Matthew 27:11
“You have said so.” – Matthew 27:12
Pilate was caught in the middle between the religious leader's need to destroy Jesus and his own thoughts on whether Jesus was guilty or not.
He questioned Jesus and asked if He heard what they were saying, but Jesus remained silent.
Let’s pause for a moment, Jesus is next to Pilate, and He looks out over the people; I can only imagine that He felt compassion for His sheep. We heard many times in scripture that He had compassion for the people.
I don’t think this was any different. I think His heart was breaking as He stared into the faces of each man and woman there. Being fully man and fully Devine, He would be able to see into their souls.
Jesus could have called down thousands of angels to destroy His attackers, but He chose silence over action because the road to the cross was part of His redemption plan for you and me.
As was the custom of the time, Pilate would release one prisoner. He asked if they wanted Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Messiah?2
The crowd roared back – Barabbas!
Then Pilate asked what should be done with Jesus, and the crowd shouted,
“Crucify Him” – Matthew 27:23-24
After the crowd had spoken, Pilate washed his hands of the situation. The crowd took responsibility for the punishment to be given to Jesus.
On the way to the cross, soldiers and on-lookers mocked Jesus. He was forced to carry His own cross, and the weight of the cross caused Him to stumble.3
I wonder if it wasn’t so much the weight of the cross but what the cross represented, the sin for all mankind.
While he was down on the ground and struggling with the cross, the soldiers pulled a man out of the crowd – Simon of Cyrene – and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way.4
They arrived at Golgotha, known as “the place of the skull”. It is here that they nailed Jesus to the cross and hoisted it into place.5
Jesus was placed between two men who were dying that day as well. People who passed by yelled and insulted Jesus. They mocked him, saying,
“You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:38-40
That day as Jesus hung there, I wonder if He saw His life flash in front of His eyes. Did He see His birth in a stable or when His parents left Him Jerusalem as he taught religious leaders? Did He see the many people He healed?
We do know that Jesus looked down and saw His mother and some of the disciples. I assume that brought great comfort to Him as He hung on the cross.
Around three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out for the last time, and He died. At that moment, the ground shook, and the temple curtain split in two. Some of the dead rose from the grave and walked into town.6
I think that it would be quite frightening to see your grandfather walk in the door after being dead for some time.
Jesus was pulled from the cross and placed in a tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had. He was carefully wrapped and His body prepared for burial, and a stone was rolled in front of the grave, and a guard stood to watch to keep people out or the disciples from “stealing his body” as some thought might happen.7
Did Hope Die Today?
Today is Good Friday, and you might be wondering what is so good about Good Friday? The truth is everything!
It would be easy for us to lose hope because Jesus died on the cross, but the truth is, Jesus died for you and me. He died so that we could have life and have it abundantly.8
Our hope took a gut punch when Jesus was nailed to the cross, but Jesus never planned to stay in the grave. He told us, He would tear the temple down and rebuild it in three days.
Jesus represents the new covenant, one that is not bound by laws to follow but by having a personal relationship with our Savior.
Jesus is our Savior – this is why hope DID NOT die this day. We just need to recognize it and take hold of it.
Today is a perfect day to seek the Savior if you do not know Him. Jesus died on the cross for your sins and mine.
If you don’t know Him, you can pray this simple prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart and forgive your sins. There’s no magic formula; you just need to believe in your heart.
You can pray this simple prayer after me,
Lord, I know that I am sinner, and I want you to come into my heart, and forgive me of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins so that I can spend eternity with you. Amen!
That’s it. If you prayed this prayer today, I am so excited for you, and scripture says the angels in heaven are rejoicing over you as you join the family. I encourage you to reach out and share this news with friends and family and leave a comment here – I would love to celebrate with you.
If you are a believer, I encourage you to come alongside someone who is struggling and help move them along their spiritual journey.
As you begin your new life in Christ, you can find resources below to help get you started.
Lord, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross and for giving us the opportunity to spend eternity with you. I ask you to be with anyone who came to faith in You today. I pray you would nurture and guide them as they grow in their faith. Please help each one of us to come alongside others and move them along their spiritual journey. Thank you for loving us and giving us life in You. Amen!
- Holy Week 2021 series
- Starting Point: The Book of John
- The Fresh Start Bible
- Matthew 27:5 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:17 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:27-31 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:32 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:33 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:45-53 ↩︎
- Matthew 27:57-66 ↩︎
- John 10:10 ↩︎
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