The Cross Before the Crown

Yesterday was Good Friday, which in the Christian tradition is the day we commemorate Jesus’s death on the cross. Services, often called Tenebrae (meaning “shadows”), are held and there are readings of the cross-story and the moments leading up to it.

We read about Jesus’ betrayal by his disciples.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him. (Matthew 26)

We read about Jesus’ gentleness and submission to His Father’s will.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. (Matthew 26)

We read about Jesus being mocked by the Roman soldiers.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus being mocked by the Jews.

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. (Matthew 27)

We read about Jesus’ death.

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (Matthew 27)

On Easter Sunday, we will read about Jesus’ resurrection. We will celebrate Him as Lord and Savior, as Conqueror over the grave and over our sins. But for now, we mourn.

We mourn the death of an innocent man. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We mourn the necessity of the cross as the just punishment for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

We mourn the loss of someone we love and who loved us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17).

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