A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Good Friday meditation

In the tradition of Good Friday services, I am including a long portion of Scripture in this post.
Since Australia is a day ahead of America, I have already been to a Good Friday service. The passage that was read was Luke 22:39-23:56.

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Chapter 23

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

* * *

Our Savior endured so much more suffering than we ever have, or ever could. He bore the wrath of God for sin, becoming sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21). Which of us could endure the wrath of God for sin, even for merely our own sins? Our minds cringe from even the imagination of it; we could not bear the reality of it.

Thank God the Lord Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son, both fully God and fully man, was able and willing to be obedient to the plan and purpose of the Father which he himself had agreed upon in the Holy counsels of the Triune Godhead in eternity before time began: to be the second Adam in our place — who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)

. . . even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6, ESV)

As the centurion witnessed the repentant thief’s conversation with Jesus, God the Father appears to have been quickening his spirit and enabling him to see the reality of Jesus’ deity and loving kindness. I imagine the centurion, perhaps to his own surprise, found himself feeling empathy for Jesus’ suffering. And as he heard Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” those words must have sunk into his soul and seemed to him to be truth unalloyed and pure. We have each experienced something like this as regenerate believers: we know truth that is so true that the very idea of doubting it never crosses our minds —it is so profoundly and veritably right, and the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts . . .

O let us praise God for his miraculous power that brings dead souls to life, that regenerates a spirit dead in its sins and makes it alive in Christ. Thanks be to God.

* * *

I wonder: What did the women feel like after they returned from watching the body being laid in the tomb?

And I think about how the rest of the disciples felt after He died and was buried. I imagine they felt traumatised, shocked, stunned, unable to think from the intensity of their emotions, bereaved, grieving and fearful.

And many times I have empathized with how Peter might have felt when the cock crew and his eyes met Jesus’ eyes.

And those who walked away from the cross beating their breasts: what were they feeling and thinking?

Let us share what God has brought to light in our souls today from reading this magnificent passage of scripture. And lest that sound too ‘liberal’ — like I am inviting people to make their own interpretations however strange or distorted they may be — we all know that Pastor Crippen will step in and bring correction if need be!  Thanks Jeff!

Over, to you, readers —

13 Comments

  1. psalm 37

    Seeing the evil and injustice that Jesus experienced at the hands of those in power reminds me that He knows how I feel when I walk out of the courtroom after a session of being bullied and oppressed by the judge and my ex. Obviously what I experience is NOTHING compared to what Jesus suffered. I think His followers felt absolutely hopeless as they left the cross and the tomb. One can hear them bitterly wailing, “This isn’t fair! This isn’t fair! Why did this happen?”

    • Psalm 37 — I am so sorry for what you have and still are going through.
      Yes, when we ourselves suffer legal abuse it can be profoundly comforting to recall that Jesus suffered legal abuse too.

      Thank you for expressing your pain and anger on our blog.
      When I read your comments I sense such deep pain that I am often unable to find words with which to reply. But your comments stay with me: they swell around me like water currents, and then perhaps later on I find words to reply.
      But if I don’t find the words, please know that whenever you share you pain, it moves me greatly.

  2. I know this wasn’t the point of the post, sadly these are the scriptures people use to keep people in abuse too. “we need to suffer the way Jesus did”. Ummm, no.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Lynette- Yes, the atonement of Christ, as seen in these Scriptures, is a wonderfully freeing doctrine. HE took upon Himself the wrath of God for us. By His wounds we are healed. And at the end, He said it was finished. Colossians says that all the debt was erased. So we dare not permit people who would take these truths and use them to enslave to rob us of their wonder. Jesus has set us free. As His people, we suffer at the hands of a world that hates Him (John 17). But we are never told to seek that suffering as if it were some kind of meritorious instrument to earn more of God’s approval. We already have that in Christ. We please God by doing HIS will. So we just need to strive to know His will and not let the distortions of man muddle it all up.

      Thanks for this post, Barbara. It’s great!

  3. bright sunshinin' day

    Barb, thank you for the feast! A couple things struck me about this passage. One, that Jesus asked for relief. “Father, if you are willing, REMOVE this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” But, it pleased the Father to bruise Him (Jesus) not for meanness, but for God’s glory and the saving of many lives. Reminds me of what Joseph went through being sold at the hands of his brothers, enslaved in Egypt, but God raised him up in time to save many lives…

    Two, being in the majority does not mean being in the right. “So Pilate decided that their (the majority) demand should be granted. He released the man (Barabbas) who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus (the minority) over to their will.” To think that Jesus was willing to obey and suffer to bring glory to His Father and salvation to His children is soul strengthening. And we are His followers if we stay the course and keep our eyes on Him!

    Psalm 37, your “name” is one of my favorite Psalms! May God heal your wounds from the courtroom…You are significant to Him and He keeps all your tears in His bottle, that is how precious you are to Him. As for the ruthless bullies who spread themselves like a green laurel tree, one day, “…he passes away, and behold, he was no more…” Ps 37:36.

  4. bright sunshinin' day

    CLARIFICATION: When I said: “And we are His followers if we stay the course and keep our eyes on Him!” I did NOT mean stay in the abuse! Jeff said it well: “So we dare not permit people who would take these truths and use them to enslave to rob us of their wonder. Jesus has set us free. As His people, we suffer at the hands of a world that hates Him (John 17).” Yes, Jesus suffered to set us free from bondage and “…we are NOT TO SUBMIT to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1)

    Sorry for any confusion!

  5. Debbie Prce

    Thank You! Barbara & May God Bless You!

  6. Katy

    I’m off work for Good Friday and have the house to myself this afternoon. Thanks for posting this Barbara, I have been wallowing in the injustice of my life these past few days, and studying what happened to Jesus always helps me rise out of it.
    The part that always sticks out to me :
    When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
    Sometimes it is just the hour of darkness. We have to wait through it.
    Last week when me and the kids were violently ill, I was laying on the floor feeling so abandoned by God again, and I had this thought pop into my head that came out of nowhere – I know it wasn’t my thinking… That Satan had insisted that if my health and the health of my kids were seriously compromised that I would finally give up. And God said “She’ll be angry, and she’ll think I don’t love her – but she hangs on.”
    I was so shocked by that.
    Hallelujah that Jesus lives – and I can’t wait for Easter Sunday!! 🙂

    • Katy, we shall dub you Katy-Job — and that doesn’t refer to you being a diligent worker 🙂

  7. Barnabasintraining

    But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.

    Not much changes, huh? The innocent victim is cast out to be crucified between two thieves while Barabbas is welcomed in the assembly.

    How many times has that scene been played out with abusers and their victims?

    I am always amazed at how this one night and day of Jesus’ life encapsulated just about every kind of evil man can do in one way or another, and on every level from government to individual. Everything wrong with the first Adam was hurled at the Last Adam and He bore it all, entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. I imagine that is why we are told how we have a High Priest who can sympathize with us in all our weaknesses, having been tested in all points like as we.

  8. Thank you everyone who has commented so far. I tossed and turned in the early hours of my morning here, wondering if I had got something wrong in the way I wrote this post. And thanks esp to Jeff C for your affirmation. “whew!”
    (usually when any one of us writes a post, we run it past the rest of the team before it gets published, but I did not have time to get the team to check over this one.)

    • Katy

      nothing wrong Barb – don’t worry. You and everyone else here is doing a great job 🙂

  9. Finding Answers

    Yes, something has shifted significantly…..

    I have always felt there was something “wrong” with me whenever I read / heard these verses. No matter how I hard tried, my understanding was “academic”. The “head” stuff versus the “heart” stuff.

    Now, I understand the “Why?”.

    First, my emotional boundary was permanently damaged when I was sexually violated as an infant.

    Second, certain aspects of the “heart” stuff were permanently damaged, the “head” stuff required to live.

    Reading the original post, I could feel light, non-physical pressure sensations when reading certain verses. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me an alternate way of communication to compensate for the one damaged.

    When I am stronger, He will teach me the whole passage.

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