Wednesday 5 April 2023


JOHN 18 and 19

Chapters 18 and 19 of John’s gospel provide a comprehensive account of the events leading to Good Friday.  Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper with His apostles, Judas had betrayed Him, and now He was ready to take His last journey to the Cross in Jerusalem. He will appear begore the Jewish leaders, given a mock trial and be sentenced to death.

Jesus with His Apostles crossed the Kidron Valley, and they entered a garden.  Soon after, Judas appeared with soldiers, knowing where Jesus was as He had spent time in the garden with Jesus.

This was a man who had spent three years in close company with Jesus, he had seen the miracles Jesus had performed, and heard all the teachings, and had enjoyed all the privileges of being with Him, yet showed himself to be corrupt and treacherous.

Jesus handed Himself over to the soldiers, which showed His courage and His  authority. He was then ready to die, although He could have walked away, but He let His enemies take Him away, but showed His love and care for His Apostles as He left.

Jesus was showing the obedience He gave to His Father, doing what God  had decreed would be done.  The Apostles Peter showed courage, and whilst he would later deny knowing Jesus, at the time of arrest was ready to challenge the soldiers.

Jesus was taken away to face Annas, a prominent figure in Jewish history, a power before the throne in Jerusalem. He had four sons who had all been high priests together with his son-in-law Caiaphas.  The Office of the High Priest went to the highest bidder, and Annas was a rich man who traded in the Temple. Jesus cleared the Temple of traders, which caused Annas to lose money, who now saw the opportunity to strike back.

The Jewish law laid down a prisoner should not be asked anything which could admit guilt, but Annas did not recognize such rules and did ask Jesus questions, When Jesus reminded Annas of justice, one of the soldiers slapped the face of Jesus, there was never any chance of justice, Jesus convicted before the trial had actually begun, and was sentenced to die.

The country was governed by Rome, and did not have the right to carry out the death penalty.  This is why the Jews had to go to Pilate before Jesus could be crucified. This was the most cruel way to kill a man. He had to be nailed to a Cross, then left in burning sunlight with no food or water, left to hang in agony until death occurred, which could be up to a week. Jesus said He would be lifted up, (meaning be glorified) and would draw all men to Him. He was to face a bitter crowd in hysteria, mocjing and insulting |Him.

There was no way to get Pilate to get authority, as it meant going into his house to speak to him. But this would stop them eating aa a Passover meal, for contact with a Gentile meant they would be rendered unclean. Ceremonial procedures had to be carried out, and no one would ignore the procedure.

Such concentration on ceremony, still exists in Christian Churches. After ordination, I was sent to an Anglo-Catholic Church by my Bishop. He thought I should learn how in a way, different from my evangelical approach, which did not have candles, bells , and ceremonial dress. I found that there was more attention to a procedure than to the gospel.

Jesus was charged with blasphemy as it was realized Pilate would not act on a charge of Jewish law, so they changed the sentence to fit rebellion and insurrection. Claiming Jesus called Himself a King, and offended Caesar. Pilate knew they were lying, and that Jesus was innocent, and did not want to sentence Him.  

At this time, there was a shortage of water, so Pilate ordered a new aqueduct would be built, and took money from Jewish sources. This caused Jews to riot. Pilate had soldiers in plain clothes, and at a given time the soldiers would attack with weapons, and many jews were killed. 

The Jewish leaders complained to the Roman Emperor. and Pilate was called to answer back in Rome, by the Roman governor Tiberius, but he died whilst Pilate was on his way to Rome, so Pilate never faced any rebuke.

The Jews were in position to blackmail Pilate to certifying the death sentence, under threat of further complaint to Rome. He never wanted to sentence Jesus, but despite trying hard to avoid, finally gave in to the Jews.

Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Jesus asked if Pilate had discovered this, or was it from information given. When he heard Jesus saying He was the Son of God, he became frightened, and suspected God was in this matter and he was scared to offend the Jews or defy God. Jesus said He had come to witness to truth, and Pilate asked that poignant question, what is truth.

Jesus like other persons facing crucifixion, was first beaten 39 times with a leather belt studded with pieces of iron which cut into the skin.

 Jesus knew He had to go to the Cross to suffer and die to provide forgiveness of sins for all people. In all things, Jesus submitted Himself to His father’s commands. We could never bear the suffering, but He knew it had to be done. We in our turn however, should try to follow  a readiness to do as much as we can to serve God

The soldiers and Jewish opponents of Jesus took Him away showing no kindness nor sympathy, they just blindly and coldly led Him away

Today in our world there is still a hostility and hardness of heart to religion, especially Christianity.  There is a Labour Party motion submitted in Parliament, to force the Church of England to adopt same sex marriage, which will be debated and probably passed. They would never dare to submit a motion to force Islam to do something against their faith. 

The sadness is. that there are too many bishops who will also support them, judging on how they slipped in same sex blessings, which offended the Anglican Communion worldwide. Unfortunately our leaders do not have the same courage and concern for Christianity as Muslim clerics do for Islam.

Jesus was taken out to a place on the outskirts of the City in a procession which moved slowly.  It would be led by two legionnaires, clearing the crowd aside as they called curses and tried to hit Jesus. He had been made to carry His own Cross after the beating, and eventually He could not do so any further under the sun’s hot rays.

There was a crowd of women trailing behind the procession, their faces covered with veils, their grief was showing. Some were talking of the wonderful deeds the Lord had done. Meanwhile, a man from Cyrene named Simon had come for the Passover, and he was seized by the soldiers and made to carry the ross for Jesus.

They reached Calvary, a hill shaped like a skull outside the city gate.  The nails were driven in the hand and legs of Jesus as His mother Mary had to witness. The mob was still shouting at Jesus, saying He saved others why can’t He save Himself. Jesus listened and then prayed, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.

There were two thieves alongside Jesus, and one asked Jesus if He was the Son of God to save them.  He then began to swear and curse at Jesus, and his friend turned on him and said they deserved what was happening to them, but Jesus had done nothing wrong.  He then turned to Jesus and said ‘remember me when thou come into thy Kingdom’. Jesus answered him by saying, ’this very day when this pain is over, we shall be together you and I in Paradise’.  Jesus then opened His eyes and saw His mother standing there with the Apostle John beside her. John was called by Jesus, and told to look after His mother, and to His mother He told her John will be her son

The women were crying and praying for Jesus, and a soldier stood nearby with the other soldiers who had gambled for the clothes of Jesus were nearby.  Suddenly, Jesus gave a loud cry and said, ‘It is finished. Father into thy hands I commit my spirit’  Then He died.

How human character does not change all that much. The men all treated Jesus coldly and mockingly, and the women all cried. Look at the Church congregations now, 20% men and 80% women.

Two thousand years have passed, still the Cross stands firm in the minds of Christians, and in other people’s minds they are as oppressive as the crowds who mocked Jesus. To a sizeable majority, they have the same aggression as those crowds. Committed Christians are being suspended from their employment for wearing a cross. A Nurse with fifteen years devoted service was suspended and almost lost her job, just for having been seen praying with an ill patient.

For true Bible believing Christians, Calvary is yet in our minds as we approach this Good Friday.   

No comments:

Post a Comment