THE WORD IS
ON GOOD FRIDAY
After the Jews had condemned Jesus to death, they gave Him into the hands of Pilate. Much happened on that same day. Now we pause to listen to some of the testimonies concerning Jesus that were given at that time.
The first one was given by Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood" (Matt. 24:4). Greed led Judas to commit the most heinous crime. But his conscience accused him: "I betrayed innocent blood." Jesus was guiltless. When He had instructed His Apostles, Judas had not paid attention. His only thought had been: How will I be able to steal something for myself from the common purse? And thus in his anguish he does not remember the power of the innocent blood, but in despair tries to compensate for his terrible dead with his own death, a betrayer's blood. Judas' death is in vain. It was an act committed in the depth of despair. Jesus' death on the other hand opened the gates of heaven and atoned for all our evil deeds.
Besides Judas, many others testified that Jesus was innocent - Pilate, his wife, the repentant thief, the centurion and Joseph of Arimathea.
The testimony of Joseph of Arimathea deserves special attention. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, "a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their plan and action" (Luke 23:50). He had, it's true, been afraid to confess that he was a disciple of Jesus, but as a member of the Council he adhered to the truth and bore the resulting pressure. Having been able to pass one test, he became more courageous and, with the help of Nicodemus, buried Jesus. This was a public confession of faith.
Although Jesus disciples fled and forsook Jesus, there were others whose faith was strengthened by the sad events of that Good Friday.
One of the two thieves was changed from a manifest blasphemer (Mark 15:32) into a confessing believer. Before his death, with the eyes of faith, he saw Christ, the Crucified, as the King of the heavenly Kingdom. He saw this dying man as the victorious Messiah, full of life and power and so he prayed: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into your Kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
The pagan centurion, having witnessed the death of Jesus, confessed: "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54).
Yes, Jesus is the Savior of sinners, King of Kings, the Lord of lords, the true God and eternal life.
"Jesus, I will ponder now on Thy holy Passion;
With Thy Spirit me endow for such meditation.
Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish
Of Thy suff'ring, pain and death
That I may not perish."