How Satan rejoiced. As Jesus took his last breath and the earth was plunged into darkness, the Devil must have been laughing an uproarious laugh. It seemed he had finally won.
And on that hill, despair like no other shrouded the people like a fog. For these were the men and women who had believed in Him, the ones who had thrown away their livelihood and businesses like worthless accessories when they had heard Him call. The ones who had broadened their shoulders and heightened their love when their families and friends called them all but deranged. These were the ones who were penniless, friendless, homeless; but somehow, none of these things had mattered until they were Masterless.
Do you think that Judas planned on Jesus dying? Do you think that he sold Jesus out without lying to himself, saying that the Roman officials would never stand for an execution, or that Jesus could slip right through their fingers, as He had done before. And now, Jesus hung dead on the cross and Judas swung dead from a rope, believing that his sin above all others was unforgiveable even as Jesus whispered, “Father, forgive them.”
And Peter was not at the foot of the cross either. As Jesus hung on the cross, Peter was in a dark room somewhere, weeping bitterly, sobbing violently, tearing at his beard. His heart was still breaking from that moment when the Lord had turned and looked at him. With that look, a cold shiver of realization had swathed Peter. But there was something else in that look, something he could not quite grasp yet—forgiveness. But for now, he wept, hunched in a corner, grief-stricken and despairing.
Pilate was left staring out a window, wondering if he had done the right thing. A bowl of water mocked his vain efforts to wash his hands. His wife’s reproachful eyes brought unrest to his soul, but it was Jesus’ eyes that haunted him. Even as that crowd had screamed for this Nazarene’s crucifixion, his eyes had been overflowing with…love.
The very bowels of the earth seemed to rebel, trembling furiously. And a veil—a veil was torn in two.
It was the greatest moment in the history of the world, the hub around which all other events revolve, the climax of everything for which God created the world. And if ever there was a day when forgiveness was needed, it was Good Friday. Not only for all of those scattered disciples with regret twisting their hearts, but for all of us, for you, and for me whose sin put Christ on the cross just as surely as Judas’s did.
Yes, that first Good Friday was good, but nobody knew it. Nobody guessed its goodness, nobody thought to mark it as a day to remember, because nobody wanted to remember it. They wanted to wake the next morning and find that that good day had never happened.
To those followers of Jesus it was Terrible Friday. Friday marked the pinnacle of his despicable treachery to Judas. Friday marked the height of his betrayal to Peter. Friday marked the moment of his greatest weakness to Pilate. Friday marks the ultimate reach of all of our treacheries, betrayals, and weaknesses. Friday should not be a day of depression, but we cannot afford to skip the soberness that these men had to feel on this day, the grim realization that my sin caused this day.
Judas knew it.
Peter knew it.
Did Pilate know it?
Do we know it?
We are not standing on a scraggly green hill, surrounded by coarse soldiers, staring at the dead body of our Messiah, overwhelmed with our own neediness and regret, overhwelmed with the realization that Jesus is dead. And while it is to our advantage that we have the Resurrection news of Matthew 28 and Mark 16 and Luke 24 and John 20, I want to set aside the wondrous truth that Christ is risen from the dead for this moment and stare at the battered body of Christ and feel the horror of my own sin.
The earth was dark, because dark is my sin.
The earth shook as my own heart needs to be shaken this day.
The unbelievable truth is that Friday of all days is the day when mankind was the least deserving of a Redeemer, yet the Sunday news is that Jesus died on Friday anyways. Judas, Peter, and Pilate remind us that Jesus did not die for the righteous, but for the men and women whose sin breaks them in two and plunges them into despair, so unbelievable is its burden.
Friday is the day when the serpent was crushed. There is no other way to say it—it is a good day.
Photo Credit: * Abhi *