Day 6: The Defeat on Friday
Take a Break
Make It Personal
We know how the story ends, which is why we call it ‘Good Friday.’ But knowing how it ends can also make it hard for us to share the emotion of those who watched Jesus die on a cross on Friday afternoon in the outskirts of Jerusalem–the very city he entered less than a week before being hailed as the Messiah, king of Israel. The cross was Rome’s unmistakable message about who was really in charge. It was a most effective way to break the spirit of those who were thinking of stepping out of line. To anyone who thought they deserved to be ‘high and lifted up’ the cross was a cruel and vicious way of granting their wishes. The cross was professionally designed to inflict maximum pain and humiliation, and the Romans had perfected it. Above all, the cross was a symbol of the shameful defeat of the person hanging from it. But in the case of Jesus, appearances can be so deceiving.
The followers of Jesus thought they had been terribly mistaken. At the end, only a small group made their way up the hill to Golgotha, the place of the skull, to watch the man who embodied their hopes and dreams–not just for themselves, but for a whole nation–breathe his last and die. It turns out, they must have thought to themselves, that Jesus wasn’t who He said He was. He was just like all of the other would-be messiahs who came along making grand claims, rallying a following, and then dying brutally for their troubles. They had no idea, at the time, that they were watching God keep His promises.
The Jewish leaders thought they were dealing with a problem. They had seen it happen dozens of times before–deal with the leader and all the followers will scatter. Just a few more days, they told themselves, and we can all return to the way things were. But things were never going to be the same again.
Pilate thought he was taking care of a potential rebellion. With a twisted sense of humor, Pilate’s soldiers gave Jesus a purple robe and a crown of thorns. On the cross, above the head of Jesus, they hung a sign that proclaimed him “King of the Jews.” They didn’t know how right they were. For this was indeed the coronation of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
There was a great defeat on Friday afternoon, but it’s not the one everybody thought. “Can we sit at your right and your left,” asked James and John, “when you come into your glory?” “Sorry,” Jesus replied, “it’s already been assigned”(Mark 10:35-40). Yes, indeed. There were three crosses on the hill that day–a thief on the right and one on the left–when Jesus won the decisive victory and accomplished His task. The power of sin and death had done their worst, but it simply wasn’t enough. They had been defeated.
Knowing what the cross means is a central part of what it means to be a Christian. The question is this: what does the cross mean to you? In other words, why is the death of a Jewish man 2000 years ago such good news for you today? Reflect for a few minutes on the difference the cross has made in your life. What were you saved from (be specific)? How has your life changed? Share your thoughts, and your heart, with your Heavenly Father.
Make It Stick
Tonight, you are invited to join the Journey Family for ‘His Word the Last Word’ on Facebook and Instagram Live @ 9:30pm. This will be an intimate time of worship, prayer, and communion. Together we’ll set our hearts and affections on Jesus. His Word and His praise will be the final meditation of our souls before day’s end. Pull out some juice and crackers (or whatever you have) and be a part of a special online experience as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have your kids draw and decorate a cross. They can post it on their bathroom mirror as a way to remember what Jesus did for us. Also, assuming your kids can stay up late enough, have the whole family tune in for ‘His Word the Last Word’ on Friday night @ 9:30p on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Not only will it be a great time to worship with your Journey family virtually, but you can also take communion together.
We are challenging students to draw a cross on their arm or hand (with a pen), and every time they see it to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on their behalf. So, why not invite your student(s) to join the whole family for ‘His Word the Last Word’ on Friday night @ 9:30p on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Not only will it be a great time to worship with the Journey family virtually, but you can also take communion together.