I write quite a bit about Hindu festivals in India, there are so many of them, but so far not written very much about Christianity. I have been asked lots of questions about Easter as we put up decorations inside the house and on the door. Zahra’s friends and the staff have been intrigued and listened intently to the gospel as I have explained about the meaning of Lent, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There is genuine interest. It’s strange for me, coming from the west it’s extremely difficult to open a conversation about Christianity – people are just not interested in ‘Bible Bashers’ talking about their faith. Here, people are interested and ask about it and question. It took me by surprise initially and I tried not to look astonished at the open opportunity to tell the gospel. Now I am a little more prepared for the questions and just tell it how it is (yes, I know, nothing new for me there!). So this post is for those readers who don’t know much about Christianity, Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us all.
The Crucifixtion of Jesus, Son of God
Good Friday is the day that Jesus, the Son of God, and Messiah (Christ) was arrested, tried and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be flogged and finally handed over to the Jews who crucified Him. (It is established as a historical event from non Christian sources although among historians there is no consensus on the precise details of what occurred.) It is chronicled in the Bible in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Jesus was stripped of his clothing and cruelly flogged. He was clothed in a robe of Royal purple and a crown of thorns placed on his head. He was beaten and spat on. He was then forced to carry the cross to Golgotha, the place of the skull, where He was nailed by the hands and feet to the cross and hung to be crucified between two thieves. The soldiers fixed a sign to the cross saying “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in three different languages. The soldiers divided Jesus clothes amongst themselves, casting lots for His robe. Jesus offered words of forgiveness to His killers: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23 verse 34). It was Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness for all those who were involved crucifying Him and the Roman soldiers who carried out the actual crucifixtion.
When one of the thieves who were being crucified with Him, asked to be remembered when Jesus comes into His Kingdom and asked for forgiveness of his sins from the Son of God, Jesus replied with words of salvation: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23 v43.)
Mary, Mother of Jesus
On seeing His mother, Mary, Jesus said:”Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” This was an instruction to His beloved disciple John to look after His mother and John took Mary into his family that day. Jesus was caring for His mother even on the cross, when He was in agony, His thoughts were for His mother. It shows the depth of Jesus love for His mother and for the disciple John into whom He entrusted her care.
“Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” Which is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27 verse 46 and Mark 15 verse 34). This is the cry of the Son of God who showed His true humanity and felt forsaken by His father in Heaven. He was offered sour wine vinegar to drink when “He said, “I thirst”” (John 19 verse 28) . It was offered to Him on a hyssop branch to His lips. This fulfilled the phrophecy in Psalm 61 verse 21.
Jesus plan was fulfilled when He said “It is finished”( John 19 verse 30) – He had completed what He had come to do. Salvation was made possible. He had taken our place. His love was demonstrated by dying for us so that we may live – a sacrifice for all of humanity’s sins. Jesus last word on the cross were “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23 verse 48). He was reunited with God the Father. Mission accomplished. Darkness fell across the land and the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom.
After Jesus died the soldiers pierced his side with a sword to confirm that He was dead. After His death, Joseph of Arimathea requested the body of Jesus from Pontiius Pilate and placed it in a new garden tomb.
Jesus death on the cross was a knowing and willing sacrifice for the whole of humanity’s sins and make salvation possible. This is what is commemorated on Good Friday every year – the sacrifice that Jesus, the Son of God, made for all humanity.
Find out what happened next and what is celebrated on Easter Sunday in another blog post coming soon!