“Good” feels like a peculiar adjective to describe the Friday before Easter. The day was heartbreaking, shrouded in betrayal, and ended in death. It is one of humanity’s darkest hours.
In His final hours, Jesus goes to a familiar garden with His disciples. This garden is also known as Gethsemane, which means “oil press” in Greek. That is a fitting description as the weight of the cross is pressing upon Him.
It’s here where Jesus will be arrested and betrayed by one of His own. Although it was prophesied that Jesus would be betrayed, I’ve always wondered how/why Judas or anyone could betray Jesus?
Judas was handpicked by Jesus, witnessed every miracle, heard every teaching, and was treated no differently from the other disciples. So how could he turn Jesus over to His enemies?
I have pondered this question for years and have an idea why I believe he would commit such an act of treason. My theory is based on the premise that the disciples thought Jesus was leading a revolt against Rome.
As Jesus’ popularity skyrocketed heading into Passover and the hundreds of thousands in attendance, he decided to give Jesus a little push and speed things up.
Judas saw a lot of upside to Jesus, leading a revolt against the Roman Empire. Like every Israelite, he waited for the day when a foreign empire no longer oppressed them.
Being a disciple of Jesus meant he would rule with Him in a restored Israel. Yet, John previously revealed Judas’ corrupt nature explaining how he would help himself to the money bag. The idea of being the CFO of an empire was too much for him to resist.
By having Jesus arrested, he thought Jesus would summon the crowds and successfully overthrow the Romans. Once he realized Jesus would not do so, Judas knew the painful and torturous death that awaited Jesus. He could not bear the fact that his actions led to that outcome and took His own life.
John 18 describes Jesus’ arrest as the temple guards, and Chief Priests came to make the official arrest and are accompanied by a band of Roman soldiers.
This meant there were approximately 600-1000 soldiers present to apprehend a single, unarmed man.
This over-the-top show of force to arrest a peaceful miracle worker who gave life and never took a life was in the event the crowds tried to interfere or turn against Rome in defense of their national hero.
Yet, nothing about this night took Jesus by surprise, nor did He attempt to evade arrest. It was for this hour that He had come, John 12:27. He knew this was His path to the cross to pay the price for the sins of the world.
His question, “Whom do you seek,” was rhetorical and highlighted the “voluntariness” of His sacrifice. Jesus’ life was not taken from Him but given willfully.
As they ask where is Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus responds, “I am he,” which is the Greek equivalent of God’s name given to Moses.
By identifying Himself this way, He was declaring to be God, the perfect and sinless sacrifice necessary to satisfy the requirements to forgive sin, once and for all, and to break the grip of sin in our lives.
The good in “Good Friday” is not about the betrayal or the arrest, but that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Jesus gave His life voluntarily for you and me so we could be free from the guilt, bondage, and punishment of sin. The truth is, I am a sinner, and you have a sinner. Jesus is the only remedy.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
Only God can pardon sin, and it took the death and resurrection of God’s one and only Son to secure our pardon.
Although this was a horrific day in human history, today we can celebrate and rejoice as we look back because Sunday is coming, and He has risen!
You are loved deeply by God, who created you and came to earth to be a sacrifice to pay the price for our sin.