Dear Members in Christ,
A time for reflection and meditation before Good Friday
Throughout the ages, along the centuries of church history, Christians have observed the week leading up to the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion with special significance. The Bible records the events during this week, beginning from the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on an ass, His ministry in and around Jerusalem, His trial and crucifixion up to Resurrection Sunday. Some commentators refer to the events as the Lord’s “passion.” The term is found in Acts 1:3, where the writer of the Acts of the Apostles refers to the sufferings and death of Christ prior to His burial and His resurrection on the third day.
“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3
How do we demonstrate our love for the Lord Jesus and His wonderful work of atonement that He had accomplished for us? As Good Friday approaches, one way to do so is to remember with gratitude the passion of the Lord, the great suffering which He had endured for our sakes. It is a good time to read the Bible, reflect, and meditate upon the grace and love of God for all who put their faith in Him.
A. Remembering the Lord’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem
The Bible records how the Lord Jesus was praised by the multitudes when He entered Jerusalem riding on an ass. The Gospel of Matthew gives considerable detail about this triumphal entrance.
“And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Matthew 21:7-9
The people cried out to the Lord Jesus “Hosanna” which is an exclamation, a cry for salvation, meaning, “save now, I pray.” Unlike the conquerors of the past, the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was humble in fulfillment of the prophecy. In Zechariah 9:9, it is written, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Let us pause and rest our thoughts upon this humble act of the Lord Jesus. Surely the King of kings, the creator of heaven and earth deserves a far greater reception and fanfare. The crowd shouted “Hosanna” for the moment, yet in a few days, perhaps some of them could be amongst those who were shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
How it must grieve the Omniscient Son of God to know the true hearts of men. The Lord of all, yet He was humble and meek as He approached His suffering for sinners, yielding His life for a sinner such as I. How great the love of God must be for Christ to bear such humility. The words of the hymn which we so often sing come to mind, “Amazing love how can it be, that Thou my God, shouldest die for me.” Amazing love, indeed!
B. The Lord Jesus’ Ministry and crucifixion in Jerusalem
The Lord Jesus continued His ministry during the days that follow His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He cleansed the temple of the money changers and vendors of all sorts. In Matthew 21:13 it is recorded that He rebuked them, “And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The sight of dishonest, merchant activity is an abomination to the Lord. Even then, in the days leading up to His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus was consumed with the zeal of the Holiness of God. It was the reason for His advent, to reconcile sinners to God who is Holy, to appease the wrath of the Holy God upon sinners.
He taught them whilst walking among the temple building, and He spoke to them about prophecies concerning His second coming (Matthew 24). The Lord Jesus also celebrated the Passover with His disciples. And the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper that His disciples may perform the sacrament “in remembrance” of Him. The Lord prayed the “high priestly” prayer as recorded in John 17 for those whom the Father has drawn into His fold. He prayed for His very own, saying to the heavenly Father, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:16, 17. Thereafter, the Lord Jesus went with His disciples across the brook Cedron, to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He agonized in prayer, while His disciples slept. Then, Judas came and betrayed the Lord with a kiss, and led the soldiers to capture the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus is truly our good shepherd, for He came to save His own. He was consumed with zeal for the Holiness of God thus He gave His life that sinners may be granted the remission of sins. We often sing, “O, how I love Jesus, O, how I love Jesus because He first loved me.” How we ought to love the Lord Jesus for He first loved us and gave Himself for us.
C. His passion, death, and resurrection
After a sham trial before the Sanhedrin, the Lord was led to Pilate the Governor to be put to death. Pilate had found no guilt in Him, for it is written in John 19:6 that, “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.” The Bible records with much detail that the Lord Jesus was scourged, mocked, and crucified.
The extreme physical suffering which the Lord Jesus underwent is well documented in the Gospels. As we meditate upon God’s word remember the words of Isaiah who (some 7 centuries before) had said,
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3, 4
With Good Friday approaching, and as I meditate upon His passion prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, I am reminded that every stripe, every nail, every cruel mocking the Lord had suffered is on account of my sins. If not for the redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we would be still under the fearful wrath of God, and we would have no hope of eternal life. Thank God for the Lord Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself for us, and was resurrected and exalted to the right hand of God, for our salvation. May the Lord guide us as we meditate upon His passion and may we serve Him, and return our love to Him. Amen.
Dn. Lim Seh Beng