A Narrative of Good Friday, taken from my more extensive harmony of Passion Week. We pick up the story Thursday night, in Gethsemane.
When, Jesus and the disciples reached Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Sit here while I go over there and pray. Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” He went about a stone’s throw away and fell to the ground on His knees and His face, praying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” An angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And, He was in agony, and was praying very fervently, so that His sweat became like drops of blood.
An hour passed in this manner. When Jesus came to the disciples He found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus went away again and prayed a second time, repeating the same words. He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy, and when they saw Him, they did not know what to answer Him.
So He, left them to pray again, saying the same thing: “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping again, and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough. Behold, the hour is at hand. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
Now Judas knew Gethsemane, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So, he led the Roman cohort and officers, which he had received from the chief priests and the scribes and elders, with lanterns and torches and swords and clubs. While Jesus was still speaking to His disciples, the crowd came into view.
Now Judas had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” So he immediately went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Friend, do what you have come for.” Then the Roman cohort and officers came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And all His disciples left Him and fled. The Romans led Him bound to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where all the chief priests and elders and scribes were gathered together.
At around midnight, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and brought Him to their council chamber. The chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death. However, they were not finding any, even though many false witnesses came forward, because their testimony was inconsistent.
The high priest stood up and came forward, and said to Jesus, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent and did not answer. The high priest said to Him, “If You are the Christ tell us.” The high priest continued to question Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” But Jesus said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer.”
And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” And Jesus said to Him, “You yourself said it. Nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” And the entire Council said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.”
Then the high priest tore his robes, and turning to the Council, he said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth. Behold, how does it seem to you?” They answered, “He deserves death!” Then they all spat in His face, beat Him, mocked Him, and slapped Him. They blindfolded Him and hit Him, and said, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?”
When Friday morning came, near dawn, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death. They bound Him and brought Him to Pilate the governor, who was at the Praetorium.
Pilate went out of Praetorium to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They replied, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
Pilate summoned Jesus to stand before Him. “Are You the King of the Jews?” he asked. Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me. What have You done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “It is as you say, that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
By now, a crowd had begun to form, for the day was starting, and the Jews were accustomed to Pilate releasing any one prisoner they requested at the Passover. Pilate said to chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” So he said, “Do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to say, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” Now, Barabbas was a notorious prisoner, and had been imprisoned for being an insurrectionist, a murderer, and a robber. Pilate replied, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” So they cried out again, saying, “Not this man, but Barabbas.”
Then, Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. The Roman soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a robe on His back, a crown of twisted thorns on His head, and a reed in His right hand. Then they began to come up to Him and kneel and bow before Him, and they mocked Him, saying, “Hail King of the Jews!” As they did this they spat on Him and beat Him on the head and face with the reed.
Then they brought Jesus out. And when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” And the crowd kept calling out, “Crucify, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.
Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. By now, it was about the sixth hour according to Roman time, or 6:00AM. Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” Pilate again asked, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And the crowd said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ, the King of the Jews?”
They all said, “Crucify Him!” But he said, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him! Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
Then Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. He released Barabbas for them and had Jesus led away to be crucified.
The soldiers brought Him to Golgotha, or the Place of the Skull, and soldiers tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh [to sedate Him] and with gall [to make the drink bitter]. But after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink it. At about 9:00AM, they crucified Him, along with two other men who were robbers.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Pilate wrote an inscription of the charge against Him, and had it put on the cross. It said in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, “THIS IS JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city of Jerusalem.
The people stood by, looking on. Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him among themselves, saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe in Him! Let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” The soldiers also mocked Him, and were coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
The two robbers who were also crucified with Him were insulting Him with the same words. One of the robbers was hurling abuse at Him said, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other suddenly answered and rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he kept saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
It was now about 12:00PM, and darkness fell over the whole land because the sun was obscured. At about 3:00PM, the darkness lifted, and Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” Aramaic for “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, this man is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge. Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
The one who retrieved the sponge put it into a jar full of sour wine near the cross, and then put the sponge upon a branch of hyssop. [The branches of this wild plant were used in Jewish purification rituals]. Then he brought the sponge up to Jesus’ mouth to give Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”
And with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last, bowed His head, and yielded up His spirit.
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, were standing right in front of Him. When they saw the way He breathed His last, and the earthquake and the things that were happening, they became very frightened and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” And the centurion began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.”