Reading Time: 7 Minutes
On Good Friday, I occasionally compare my day to what Jesus was experiencing on the day when we went to the cross for our sins. As we read today’s Bible passage, try comparing it to one of your customary days.
John 19.1-11 – Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.
4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”
6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
Comparing my day with that of Jesus
This is how I meditate on the difference between my usual day and and Jesus’ day when he went to the cross for our sins.
I usually get out of bed between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning, get a cup of coffee to go with an almond butter and jelly sandwich. While I eat and drink two cups of coffee, I talk with my wife and browse news stories on my phone.
Jesus didn’t get out of bed on the day he was crucified. He spent the night going from one mock trial to another. False witnesses accused him, as he was first condemned by the religious authorities and then the Roman occupation government.
After breakfast, I move from the kitchen to a chair in our basement for a prayer time and more coffee. Somewhere around the time when I was finishing my second cup of coffee and my prayers, Jesus was being flogged and abused by the soldiers.
I often try to put myself into the Bible passage I am reading for the day. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, one of my friends was given a bull whip. Several of us were in his backyard watching him make it pop. I wanted to give it a try. He showed me the basics and I attempted to imitate his actions. I made it pop, but somehow allowed it to pop on my upper back. It hurt like crazy and left a red mark for several hours.
In the comfort of my basement, still sipping coffee, I tell Jesus as effectively as my feeble words can say that I appreciate how he suffered under the Roman lash. I only know a minuscule “taste” of the pain that was inflicted on him for our sake.
Isaiah reminds us, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53.5 KJV).
What else did Jesus experience prior to 9:00 in the morning? At 9:00 he found himself nailed to the cross outside the gates of the city to suffer until 3:00 in the afternoon.
Again, as I compare Jesus’ day to my normal day, after I have probably finished with a shower and shave. Around the time I was ready to get dressed, Jesus was receiving a shower of spit and insults from the soldiers, plus a crown of thorns.
Isaiah foretold the treatment Jesus would receive. How accurate are his words, describing Jesus’ treatment by the both the religious authorities and the soldiers.
“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53.3)
The time is still before 9:00 AM. How do we respond to Jesus, our Savior, who has loved us with such a powerful love? We can follow the example of Paul in Philippians and use his words to express our praise to Jesus for his profound gift.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-11).
The charges against Jesus
John 19.12-16 – From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
There were two basic charges against Jesus. The religious charge was that Jesus claimed to be God (verse 7). The charge by the Roman authorities was that Jesus opposed to the Roman government (verse 12). It was common knowledge that anyone who did not accept the exclusive authority of the Roman Emperor (or Caesar), would be crucified.
All rebellions were squashed by the Roman authorities in the most forceful manner. Rebel leaders and their followers were all crucified and put on public display. Even though Pilate apparently wanted to release Jesus, there was no way for him to do this because of the Roman policy.
In my meditation about Jesus’ trial, punishment and execution, the time is still prior to 9:00 AM. Jesus has been beaten nearly to death. He has been mocked and abused by soldiers. The religious authorities have finally achieved their desired end, his death on the cross.
When I have undertaken this meditation, I frequently think about what Jesus was experiencing as I go about my daily tasks. I remember eating lunch at Englewood Cafe and thinking, “Jesus, you still have three more hours to go on the cross.”
I believe the worst part of the cross experience for Jesus took place between 1:00 and 3:00 (Mark 15.33). I believe it was then that he suffered the punishment for the sins of all of humanity. This is the time when the sky was darkened. I join other writers in the belief that this time was so holy that the darkness only allowed Jesus and the Father to see what was taking place.
As I go about my day visiting with people, talking on the phone, and doing usual activities, I recall to mind that Jesus was suffering the penalty of every sin, every injustice, and every evil that has ever been committed on the face of the earth. My sins were included as a part of Jesus’ suffering.
Paul wrote, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21). Words are totally inadequate to praise Jesus for the absolute gift of his life, ministry, death and resurrection.
I hope you will take a time to encounter Jesus’ trials, punishment and crucifixion in a way that deepens your appreciation for his profound act of love. Please remember this exercise and consider doing something like it next year on Good Friday.
Tomorrow, we will examine the text of Jesus’ crucifixion from another angle.
Dear God, how can we praise you enough for the gift of life that came from the cross and resurrection. We receive your forgiveness and offer of abundant life today. We commit ourselves to you, the lover of our soul. We dedicate ourselves to live a Jesus-kind-of-life, as the best life possible.