It’s Good Friday. At first thought, what’s so “good” about it? All four Gospels have detailed, historical, eye-witness accounts.
Here is Matthew’s Story
Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.
Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”
Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”Matthew 26:57-68
Peter Denies Jesus
Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”
But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said.
A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”
Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.Matthew 26:69-75
So, Jesus was taken from the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, to King Herod, the current territorial King Herod Antipas, son of King Herod the Great who reigned when Jesus was born, and Pontius Pilot, procurator of the Roman Provence of Judea.
Technically, Jesus didn’t break any laws. It was the Jewish priests and the Pharisees who were afraid of Him because He claimed to be the King of the Jews. They didn’t see that He was the Messiah, that He came to fulfill the prophecies of the Jewish scriptures…
Judas Hangs Himself
Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took the thirty pieces of silver—Matthew 27:1-10
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.” (Zechariah 11:12-13)
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.Matthew 27:11-26
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.Matthew 26:27-31
Jesus did not defend Himself because He knew He had to die.
Pilot didn’t get it, but He didn’t want a riot on his hands so he let the people choose. The Jews wanted someone to deliver them from the Romans right then and there. Barabbas was a leader of the rebels so they chose Barabbas over Jesus. They didn’t understand the Jesus’ Kingdom was “not of this earth”.
During all this, Peter was confronted 3 times and 3 times he denied knowing Jesus — just as Jesus predicted. And Judas overcome with guilt, hung himself.
The Roman guards beat and mocked Jesus by throwing a red blanket on His shoulders and a crown of thrones on His head, “Hail, the King of the Jews!” He was humbled yet again.
Why did Jesus have to die?
Good Friday is the day that sin died — that’s what’s good about it!
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory!