And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified him, and two others with him.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen cloths with the spices. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus.
Today is Good Friday. Easter is coming and there will be time enough for Allelulias, but today is Good Friday. On this particular day, there are sobs, impossible questions and broken hearts, but no Allelulias and no lilies. Today is about darkness, not pastels. Today is quaking earth; tumbling, clattering rocks; storms, a torn veil. Stabs of lightning scatter their weird illumination.
A solemn frame of mind suits the day well—a subdued spirit, a reflective pose; whispered, frightened words, not triumphant shouts. Today the stone rolls over the tomb and grinds to a scraping, final conclusion. You cannot get to Easter without going through Good Friday.
The marvel to me is not just the pain of the tortured death. There is that, of course, and nothing can change or lessen it, but others have died painful deaths, including the robbers suspended on either side of Him that afternoon.
The marvel to me is not just the heart shattered by abandonment and loneliness—My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. There is that, of course, but others have died in broken-hearted loneliness.
It isn’t enough to marvel over the thorny crown, the lashes, the cursing soldiers, the angry mob, the mocking leaders, or even the ironic poverty of a borrowed tomb. For me at least, that is not enough.
I marvel most because He was there at all.
Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
I marvel most because He was there at all.
It isn’t just Good Friday that makes me marvel; it is the whole incredible story, which, if you believe it hook, line and sinker, is really nothing other than an unbroken episode of humiliation, stretching all the way back to the manger. Was not the debasement of Christ fully complete at the moment of his birth? The dirty stable? The marginal parents? The bad neighborhood? The grim future? Was that not debasement enough?
When you think of who He was, and where He had come from, the marvel is that He was there at all, fleeing to Egypt, building chairs in Nazareth, reciting the Torah to an indifferent synagogue, you name it. Good Friday is just the breathtaking, heartbreaking culmination of all the humiliation and debasement that ever was in that short, solitary life; and when Bethlehem’s star disappeared over Golgotha what we saw was what had been there all the time.
The marvel is that He was here at all.
Why was He here? Was it a decision? A choice? A surgical rescue plan set in place after a careful weighing of all available options? A plan coolly and rationally conceived before the foundations of the world were laid? Perhaps. We sometimes think of it in those terms.
But suppose it wasn’t a choice at all. Suppose it was a reflex, like a breath, or a heartbeat, or a blush, or the twitch of your leg when the doctor taps it just so. An infinitely grand and divine reflex.
Could it be that He was compelled by a passionate force so irresistible that when we fell, the only place His holy, perfect heart could be was with us? “Immanuel – God with us.”
Suppose His love defines who He is to such a complete extent that He could have done nothing else except be there that day or not be God at all. “God is love.”
Just suppose He had no more real choice in the matter than the mother who rushes into the inferno to save her shrieking baby. Just . . . suppose.
How marvelous to be embraced by such a love!
Here’s what I do know for certain this Good Friday. You know it, too.
They crucified my Lord
And he never said a mumbalin’ word. They nailed Him to a tree.
And he never said a mumbalin’ word. Not a word.
Not . a . word.
Not . . . a . . . word.
Jeffrey S. Bromme, Esq. is the Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for the Adventist Health System.