The day began with a trial, the outcome of which was already determined by the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, as Jesus appeared before them and refused to deny who He was, which led to their vote to put Him to death. Only Nicodemus, a respected scholar and a Pharisee, questioned their authority and their decision since He had visited with Jesus and realized who He was. But he was afraid of speaking up, fearful that his position of prestige and respect would be reduced, and held his tongue after the decision was made. That decision did bother him, and we'll learn more about that later.
The sentence to death created a problem for Caiaphas, however, for when he presented it to King Herod, Herod told him he had to take it to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. Rome had decreed that charges of death be approved by their Governor in all subordinate territories. When that was violated, the Romans routinely showed their wrath with severe repercussions.
When brought to Pilate, the Roman Governor looked at Jesus and couldn't believe what he was asked to do. He could find no fault in the man, even after meeting with him in private. But when Caiaphas warned him that the people were behind his request, Pilate was fearful that to do otherwise could cause protest and violence. In the event a Governor was unsuccessful in maintaining order among his subjects, the usual result was recall to Rome and disgrace and often harsh punishment. And while there were many Jews who supported Jesus, they were too afraid to speak up, as evidenced by the denials three times of Peter when asked if he knew Christ.
At first Pilate submitted Jesus to a brutal beating by the Roman soldiers. They were particularly vicious using the worst of weapons, and when Pilate then offered to the crowd that the punishment delivered was sufficient, the crowd responded with a chorus of boos and jeers. Now Pilate was likely not aware that the Jewish soldiers of the Temple had barred those who were outspoken believers in Jesus' from the courtyard, only allowing those supporting Caiaphas to enter within earshot of Pilate.
Pilate decide to leave the final decision to the crowd which was revved up by Caiaphas. When asked to choose between Jesus and Barabbas, a notorious criminal, they chose to let Barabbas free. When then asked what should be done to Jesus, again at the urging of Caiaphas they shouted "Crucify Him". Pilate symbolically washed his hands and turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to carry out the sentence.
The soldiers mocked him, scorned him, poked and prodded him before putting a crown of thorns on His head. Then the forced the Son of God, weak and wobbly, to bear the weight of His own death instrument, a heavy wooden cross, on the uphill trek through the narrow streets and on to Golgotha, the Place of Skulls, where He was crucified. His body was placed on the Cross, complete with both his hands and feet being nailed to it, and it was raised and put in place for the soldiers and a few of Jesus followers to witness first hand. The time was nine in the morning and the slow and painful death from loss of blood, loss or circulation and dehydration of all remaining body fluids was not finalized until three in the afternoon. During that period he saved one of the two men on the crosses on both sides of Him, telling Him he would join Him that day in Heaven, asked God why He had forsaken Him and, finally, announced His life was done, as He asked God to forgive them for what they did.
A time later, after the sky had turned black and the Temple shook through a likely earthquake, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus recovered the body and took it to the tomb. The lifeless body was laid on a stone bed and the body was anointed in traditional Jewish burial and the tomb was sealed. His act of unselfish love and Salvation had been completed. God's will had been done.
At the moment Jesus breathed out His last breath, all of mankind, present and future, was forgiven for their sins if they would only believe. It would take a long time for all of His teachings and miracles to be fully understood, but the story has lived ever since and has grown in believers the world over. His death truly changed the world in ways that many of us do not know.
In the next blog, the day after Good Friday, we will talk about the Disciples, how they were discouraged and afraid now that Jesus was gone. Though they loved and followed Him, with Him now departed they didn't know what to believe, showing just how important the Living Christ was to them and is to us. That blog will be finale of despair and anguish, because the next day, Easter Sunday, we will celebrate the fact that #HeLives.