“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45).
Today is Good Friday – good because we know why the events that transpired on this memorable day 2,000 years ago were so wonderful, so amazing, so prophecy-fulfilling that we would solemnly remember those dark hours for centuries after the event! But can you take a moment back in time to see how dark this day must have been for those who had followed Jesus, loved Him, and believed that He was the promised Savior?
Looking at the picture above makes the feast seem like any other supper the disciples may have shared with Jesus. There were lessons being taught, arguments being had, and personal discussions that can only be held with those you have spent intimate hours with as a family unit. They were friends, brothers, champions for Christ. They gave up their lives to follow Him, love Him, worship Him! So on that day, at that hour when death seemed to have the final say, it must have been the darkest day the world had ever known.
Just hours before, Jesus was sharing a meal with his most faithful followers, knowing that one of them was about to betray Him. Even then, Jesus showed love and compassion to Judas, a man who became so devastated by what he had done that he ended up hanging himself.
Peter, the one disciple who promised that he would never betray Jesus, turned his back on his best friend in His most desperate hour of need.
Just a week prior to His death, Jesus had ridden through the streets of Jerusalem through throngs of people, who had come to declare their love and loyalty to their new King. Just 7 days before they had shouted, “Hosanna,” which means “adoration or joy.” How much darker could it be than to have those who once proclaim their love for you suddenly turn their backs?
On this dark day in history 2,000 years ago, Jesus – a man who had done nothing but preach God’s Word, heal the sick and brokenhearted, cast out demons, and love unconditionally – walked through throngs of people again. But this time, the darkness had taken over their hearts. It consumed their minds. Even creation felt the darkness!
Instead of praise, words of hate were spat at Him. Instead of palm branches, He was hit with whips made out of thorns. Instead of being carried by a donkey, He carried a heavy cross. They spit on Him. They pulled out His hair. They ridiculed Him. They tore His clothes. They plunged nails into His hands and His feet. And then they pierced His side with a spear.
But even then, the darkness was bearable. It did not become all-consuming until His Father turned His back on His Son.
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46).
Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt in that moment? The anguish, the crushing weight of everyone’s sins from that moment throughout all eternity laid on His shoulders?
It’s my fault He had to hang on that cross. And it’s your fault. And it’s our children’s faults. And it’s everyone’s fault. EVERYONE’S!
He loved us so much that He stood before His accusers and allowed them to do their worst to Him. Because He loves me, He didn’t want me on that cross. Because He loves you, He kept you off that cross.
For the believers who lived in that moment and couldn’t see what would come to pass in just a couple of days, there must have been so much darkness and despair for them. They knew they were targets now. Their last hope had just died in front of their eyes. How could they have any hope after that moment when they realized He was dead?
But the awesome, amazing part of the darkest day the world has ever known is that we didn’t stay there! Darkness didn’t envelope the earth and take away our hope. We aren’t left to die in our sins! What seemed to be the darkest hour was actually Christ’s victory over sin and death.
Please, if you don’t understand why we celebrate Good Friday, this message is for you! He knew you even when He died on that cross, and your name was imprinted on His hands that day. What we remember today is the beginning of hope and life. It’s His promise to save us from eternal damnation in hell. It’s the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven.
Easter isn’t about bunnies and candy and eggs. It’s about a Savior who suffered to the point of death for you!
Today is good because Jesus made it good.