The Crucifixion – Good Friday
For today’s Reading I chose the Passion of Christ leading up to the Crucifixion according to Luke, since it includes the Holy Supper. According to the lectionary this was a text for last Sunday and for today there is the Passion of Christ according to John which does not include the Eucharist.
 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.  And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:  For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves:  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.  But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me [is] with me on the table.  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!  And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.  And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But ye [shall] not [be] so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  For whether [is] greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? [Is] not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.  Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;  That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.  And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.  And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.  And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.  Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.  For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.  And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.  And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.  And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.  And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,  Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,  And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.  And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.  But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?  When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?  And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.  And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.  Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?  When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.  Then took they him, and led [him], and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.  And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.  But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.  And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.  And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.  And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow] also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.  And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.  And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.  And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.  And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote [him].  And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?  And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.  And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,  Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:  And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.  Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.  Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.  And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
Chapter 23:  And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.  And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this [fellow] perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.  And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest [it].  Then said Pilate to the chief priests and [to] the people, I find no fault in this man.  And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.  When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.  And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.  And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long [season], because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.  Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.  And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.  And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked [him], and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.  And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.  And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,  Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined [him] before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.  I will therefore chastise him, and release [him].  (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)  And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this [man], and release unto us Barabbas:  (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)  Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.  But they cried, saying, Crucify [him], crucify him.  And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let [him] go.  And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.  And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.  And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.  And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear [it] after Jesus.  And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.  But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.  For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.  For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?  And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided [him], saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,  And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.  And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.  Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.  And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.  And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.  And, behold, [there] was a man named Joseph, a counseller; [and he was] a good man, and a just:  (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) [he was] of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.  This [man] went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
So what exactly are we meant to believe? What is the meaning of the Crucifixion? Jesus died for our sins in advance? We eat his body and drink his blood?
What would have happened, if the Crucifixion would not have happened? Would God destroy all mankind? He nearly had done that once before by the deluge! He then put the rainbow into the sky (Gen. 9: 13 to 16) to remind himself not to do such a thing ever again, but what if there is no rainbow visible? New Orleans had several disasters so far and what will happen, if the ice caps really melt? Please, read Eze. 18: 13. You wouldn’t believe me, if I quoted that here! … Well? Don’t you think that the attacks on the World Trade Centre only were small gentle corrections compared to this?!
For Christians sacrifice is not as important as Love of one’s Neighbour: In Matt. 5: 23 & 24 Jesus commanded us that, if we would bring a sacrifice to the altar, to leave the sacrifice next to the altar and first to make peace with our brother, i.e. a member of the same nation. Only after this should we perform the sacrifice. Matt. 9: 13, ‘…I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: ….’
So, why sacrifice? Deut. 12: 23, ‘… the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.’ The meat of the sacrificial animals were meant to be eaten by the Israelites but they shouldn’t drink the blood as we eat the meat of Jesus and still drink his blood, or at least the priest does still today in Catholic Services. At the beginning of Ex. 27 the altar is described. It was a grill! It was used for preparing food! But the blood was not to be eaten. Lev. 17: 11, ‘For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood ….’ That’s easy to understand. When the blood is shed, the animal dies. The verse continues, ‘… and I have given it [the blood] to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.’
The blood makes the atonement!!! But it shall be poured upon the altar. Nobody should drink it.
Usually animals were sacrificed for the atonement of sin. It is, as if a father is furious with his son, and since he doesn’t want to kill his son he executes his wrath on the poor animal. He slaughters it and eats it. What does this have to do with the animal? Nothing!
But Jesus was a man, the son of God! And putting him through such a gruesome Crucifixion? And eating a man? That was not that uncommon in Ancient times. Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac (Gen. 22). Well there was no Crucifixion but the poor little boy even had to carry the wood for the fire up the mountain. And then his father told him a fib when he asked where the sheep for the sacrifice was. Gen. 22: 8, ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.’ When they arrived at the top of the mountain, Abraham then built an altar! He probably put a couple of rocks in position to build a fire place. That was the altar. The Hebrew word for altar is actually related to a verb, meaning to slaughter or to slay. As mentioned above, the altar is a place to perform sacrifice and in our Churches today bread and wine for the Communion are placed on the altar.
Abraham, then actually bound his son in verse 9 and placed him on the altar. The little boy must have gotten quite a fright when he realised what his father was about to do. Later probably he was telling his mum of the ordeal, breaking out into sobs over and over again so that he was quite difficult to understand. This must have been quite as horrible for the little boy as the Crucifixion.
But once Sarah actually had understood what had happened, she grabbed little Isaac and left. Gen. 22 clearly says, that Abraham after the near sacrifice dwelt at Beersheba. Sarah died at the beginning of the next chapter, Gen. 23, in Hebron and Abraham (Gen. 23: 2) ‘came [from Beersheba] to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.’ They had been separated!
Moses also had to deal with child sacrifice. What is the purpose of a law? A law is a remedy for an existing and ongoing wrongdoing.
In 2003 there was a case of cannibalism in Germany in which the victim wanted to be eaten! Cannibalism is not illegal in Germany and other countries of the civilised world. Why not? Because no civilised person would do such a thing. What is not practised will not be forbidden!
In Exodus there repeatedly occurs a commandment to sacrifice and eat whatever openeth the womb or the matrix, including the first born son of every woman (Ex. 13: 2 and 12 to 15; Ex. 22: 29 & 30; Ex. 34: 19 & 20).
In chapters 13 and 34 there is the addition that the first born boy of every woman shall be redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb, but in chapter 22 it is missing.
What was the purpose of this law? Was it to move a non – cannibalistic society to cannibalism or was it to curb this practice in a society in which everybody was allowed to do anything with his property, i.e. his sheep, his goats, his cattle, but also his children, including selling them as slaves or eating them. Maybe even the prohibition of pork arose from this problem. The German cannibal said, that human flesh tastes similar to pork and maybe some Israelites tried to pass of their children’s meat as pork when Moses came around to check. Even hundreds of years later the custom of child sacrifice had not disappeared (Isa. 57: 5).
So human sacrifice was not that unusual and Jesus, the first born of Maria certainly was to be sacrificed according to Ex. 22: 29 & 30 even though the Crucifixion was rather unusual.
Jesus healed the sick and the lame and he made the deaf and dumb speak. A slave who was brought up to look down, like at the beginning of the musical ‘Les Misérables’ will act as if obsessed or suppressed by a spirit or a disease and will become lame or lack confidence so badly that he will not be able to speak. These were amongst those whom Jesus had healed and made them live free and joyfully and he had offended the rich and powerful by throwing over the Money Changers’ Tables. Were these the reasons why the powerful Jews wanted him to die? Is that their reason for the Crucifixion?
However in John 13: 26 & 27 Jesus practically urged Judas to betray him. He did not try to escape his fate but went into it knowingly into the Crucifixion and by his stripes we are healed (1. Pet. 2: 24). Shouldn’t this fill us with joy? Shouldn’t we go through life happily and light – hearted?
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.