Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha ). There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
John 19:1-3, 16-18, 28-30 NLT
This is the hardest day.
The things that were done to Jesus today are terrible. The pain he suffered, the suffering he endured. Many people stay away from church today. It’s just too hard. It’s just too upsetting.
And I suppose I can understand that. But I choose not to stay away. I choose to go. To look fully upon my crucified Lord. To hear the way he was treated and the final words he said. I choose to witness.
Not because I’m callous and can deal easily with it – I will shed my tears as the Scriptures are read, I will have a tough time holding it together as the choir sings, I will have a tough time holding it together as I preach – I go because Jesus did this for me.
As much as I love Easter Sunday, I am convinced I cannot fully experience Resurrection joy unless I’ve spent my time mourning at the cross.
It is terrible that the powers of this world crucified Jesus. It is terrible that he was beaten and whipped and crowned with thorns and given sour wine when he was thirsty. It was all a terrible, terrible mess.
But it was also a choice. It was a choice He made for me. It was a choice He made for you. It was a choice because his love for us outweighed the pain that he would suffer. And that is saying quite a lot.
This Good Friday, may you know that love has come for you. That love bled for you. That love died for you. That love made THAT choice, for you (and for me, and for all). May you be touched anew by the power of sacrificial love. And though you may weep, may you also know that you are not alone in your weeping, and that the promise has been made that your weeping will be turned to dancing.
Three of the stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa (the way of Sorrows) in Jerusalem.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which houses Golgotha and the place of the Empty Tomb.
Crosses carved into the walls of the church by pilgrims over the centuries.
Luke touches Golgotha – the place of the crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Nails in the door and crosses carved in the doors to the Holy Sepulcher – marks of pilgrims over the years.
The archway over the staircase leading up to Golgotha.