Good Friday was the darkest day in the life of Jesus. His public crucifixion was not only the most horrific way to die, but the most shameful as well. The Romans reserved death on a cross for political rebels, pirates, insurrectionists and those guilty of violent crimes. Crucifixion was so outrageous that people wouldn’t even use the word “Stauros” (the Greek word for cross) in a polite conversation because many considered it a curse word.
According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus hung on the cross for six hours and during that time, He said:
- “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
- “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
- “Woman, here is your son…here is your mother.” John 19:26-27
- “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34
- “I am thirsty.” John 19:28
- “It is finished.” John 19:30
- “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46
Each day in the holy city of Jerusalem, animal sacrifices were made in the Temple twice - once at 9 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. Each time, the priests at the Temple would blow a musical instrument called a Shofar which was made from the horn of a ram. If you were living in Jerusalem at this time, you would know to stop whatever it was you were doing and be silent because you knew that the priest was sacrificing a lamb on your behalf to atone for your sins.
Mark 15:25 says that Jesus was nailed to the cross at exactly 9 a.m., the time of the first sacrifice. A few verses later in Mark 15:34-37, it’s recorded that Jesus breathed His last at 3 p.m., the time of the second sacrifice. They failed to realize that by crucifying Jesus, they were offering the ultimate sacrifice to God that would fulfill all the animal sacrifices defined by the Mosaic Law.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul explains, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus’ death on the cross was the atonement for every one of our sins, because on our own, we could never fulfill the law.
Nothing about Jesus death was deserved. He could have avoided it all, but He chose the nails for us. Only five days earlier when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowd yelled "Hosanna, God save us from our sin," but today the same people yelled “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.”
Jesus voluntarily gave everything for love. He voluntarily went down without a fight. He voluntarily took the penalty for us. He voluntarily paid the price so you and I can be free forever!