Tales from the Trail: #6 The Friday We Call Good

Scripure Reading: Mark 15:1-39
Prayer: Easter Prayer

Today is the day we call “Good Friday.”  The name itself reminds us that what is good for some may not be good for others.  It is the day we remember the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Messiah.

Where Thursday night ended and Friday morning began was a  little blurry for Jesus, his followers and his enemies.  Last night we were in the Garden with him as he prayed.  At some point in the middle of the night Judas, the chief of betrayers, guided the chief priest and his thugs to the secret place so that Jesus could be apprehended without arousing the crowds of the city.

Sham trials were arranged in the middle of the night.  Before sunrise the chief priest and Sanhedrin condemned Jesus, and seeking the death penalty, forwarded their prisoner to Pilate, the ruling Roman representative.
Pilate was perplexed regarding the crime and guilt of Jesus, he washed his hands of our Savior’s blood.  However, Pilate understood politics and mobs quite well.  Handling such situations was prerequisite for his line of work.  The Jewish crowds were turned against Jesus by their religious leaders.  The lips that once sang the sweet words Hosanna! Hosanna! were now tuned to the most sour of all notes:

Crucify Him!
     Crucify Him!
          Crucify Him!

By design, the “Cross Station” on the trail has never been emotionally heavy.  After spending time in the Garden, shouting Crucify Him! at the Trial, and listening to the heavy personal testimony of Peter (or Judas in the old days), an emotional break is needed.  And children needed a way to interact.

Now in the shadow of the cross we pick up a hammer and drive our own nail into the beam. That sounds weightier in this format.  Perhaps a moment of self reflection and evaluation is appropriate here.  There is a place to reflect on our part, on our need for the Crucifixion, but let us focus more on the love and desire of God that makes this Friday Good. 
Perhaps the cross is even more than a payment for my sin.  Could God be teaching us through this horrific sacrifice?

Let’s read the monologue of the Roman Centurion who orchestrated the logistics of Jesus’ crucifixion as we seek to understand the goodness of this day.

So, you have heard what happened.

I’ve punished many men as one of Caesar’s soldiers, but I’ve never experienced anything like this. 

 Crucifixion is a common occurrence in the Empire, especially here around Jerusalem.  My job as a soldier, a centurion, is to keep the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome.  We keep the peace with a heavy hand.

After a while, the victims of execution stop making an impression.  Sure at first you feel bad for the parents and spouses, but we’ve always known they deserved it.  Often, their actions reveal that indeed they are miserable people.

Deserve it or not, it is my job to keep peace in Rome, to protect the Emperor and his Empire from the many trouble makers that rise up among us.

I’ve learned not to look them in the eye, not to recognize their faces.  I’ve got a job to do, a harsh one, but it is a job that benefits my family greatly.  It is easier to remember those I punish as nameless, faceless, bad guys.  But this guy, Jesus, I just can’t see him that way.

There was a peace about Him, no matter what was said or done to Him.  The bitterness and hate eventually overflow when we torture criminals, but no vile words came from his lips.  Something was different about this man.

And who can explain the darkness that came at midday.  The earthquake at the very moment he died, the stories of resurrected Jews around the city, and the curtain in the temple, how it ripped from top to bottom.

Jesus is dead, but it doesn’t feel like his story is over.  I don’t know what is going to happen, but I want to know more about this guy.  Where did he come from?  Tell me more about the things he did?

One thought I can’t shake!  What if this Jesus, truly is, The Son of God?
What if?!

Good Friday is a day that does not have closure.  Like quarantine and social distancing, Jesus’ followers did not know what would happen next.  We would do well to sit in this uncertainty for a little while.

It is Friday now.

Jesus is on the cross.

In the mind of us humans, “This is not the image we have of a conquering, victorious Savior.”
But it is the image God gives us for this day.

So let’s dwell on the cross today as we seek to understand what life is all about…

In Him,

Click Here to see the original post with pictures from past Resurrection Trail events.

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