On Good Friday, LOVE Initiates

via TJC

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.

Matthew 27:3 KJV

Matthew 27: 1-62 begins with the chief priests and the elders having advised that Jesus should be put to death and they tied him up and took him to Pontius Pilot (5th Governor of the Roman province of Judaea).

Judas had just repented, saying he had sinned and betrayed the innocent blood of Jesus. – What is it that we do to betray the innocent blood of Jesus? Think about how much Judas’ actions grieved him, personally. Does our sin grieve us this same way? Do we immediately repent (change our ways) the minute we realize we betrayed Jesus’ innocent blood?

At this point everyone had betrayed Jesus. Judas, the twelve disciples (who desperately created distance from Jesus), and the people of Jerusalem – releasing the truly heinous criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus, and further, shouting for Jesus’ death! 

Here is where I am reminded of the song, They Should Have Cried Holy by my favorite Southern Gospel group Greater Vision. The chorus says, “They should have cried Holy! Worthy! as loud their voices raised. They should have cried Master! We surrender! to your will and to your way. Instead, they cried, Crucify! Let Him die! Let’s take His life away! They should have cried Holy on crucifixion day. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty. Instead, they cried, crucify!, let him die!, let’s take his life away. They should have cried Holy! Holy is thy Name!” Powerful thought, powerful words.

Pontius Pilot had been told by his wife to claim Jesus’ innocence. Yet he washed his hands of the matter. And why? Three reasons: 1. Pilot didn’t want responsibility for anything that would cause an uprising and bring him under discipline with the Roman Empire, 2. He didn’t want to be wrong. However, his indecision, in truth, was a decision which led to Christs’ crucifixion, and 3. It was intended to happen this way to fulfill prophecy. I have been guilty of the very thing Pilot did. Have you? I had a time when something interesting had happened. I knew the truth of the matter deep down inside, yet I doubted whether I really did know. My doubt caused anxiety which dominoed into fear of being wrong and making the wrong call. Then I stumbled into what everyone else would think because I didn’t  want their negative view of me. See how that spiraled out of control quickly? Leading me to one prideful moment after another. Suddenly, I realized that Philippians 4:6-7 went out the window.

Next, the crucifixion was set to take place at Golgotha (a place of a skull). Golgotha is situated in Jerusalem such that nearly everyone can see what is taking place. The Romans did this on purpose as a sign to others not to betray the Roman Empire. Do you find that ironic? Everyone betrayed Jesus, yet the Roman Empire doesn’t want to be betrayed.

The act of crucifixion is horrifying, there is no doubt. What is interesting as you read Matthew 27 is the fact that only four (4) verses of the 66 in the chapter speak to the torture Christ endured. I am not taking anything away from the pain He endured for our transgressions and having the weight of our sin on his shoulders. We do need to consider what he suffered on our behalf, but God wanted us to focus on Him, not his suffering. To Jesus, the suffering was momentary. Again, I do not want to take anything away from the gravity of the event. His triumph over it all is everlasting! He is the one who loved us first. He initiated the first step to the cross by being born of the virgin Mary. We love Him, because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19. LOVE initiates. The cross was intentional to show us how much he loved us, not to show how much pain he could take. Do we consider this when we sacrifice for the ones we love, our wife, our kids, etc. Are we looking for recognition or would we rather them see how much we love them?

Lastly, one man named Joseph, also a disciple, cared enough to claim the body of Jesus. He took Jesus’ body and placed Jesus in the very tomb he made for himself. I often wonder, when I read this story, whether Joseph contemplated the irony of the matter. A tomb he made for himself yet was burying the one who died in his place.

Daily Battle Order: 

Kingdom men, suffering is inevitable. However, intentional suffering through sacrifice, discipline, and obedience is momentary. It has its rewards. We may not see the rewards in terms of instant gratification or immediate results. However, the peace that endures is everlasting. The love received in return is worth it. Love initiates. Take that first step in sacrifice, discipline, and obedience. Then when it gets hard to endure, remember what Christ did for you, in love, then pray using 1 John 4:19 and Philippians 4:6-7 as your starting point.

Tomorrow we talk, nay, rejoice about the resurrection!

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