Good Friday, friends!  How did you sleep last night?  For Jesus, there was no rest.  After dining one last time with his disciples, Jesus asked them to join Him in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  Three times He told them about the fate that awaited Him, but they did not understand.  Gathering the twelve disciples around him, Jesus told them, “As you know we are going to Jerusalem.  And when we get there, all the predictions of the ancient prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true.  He will be handed over to the Romans to be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon.  They will whip him and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.”  (Luke 18:31-33)  There in the Garden with the disciples, where Jesus went to pray to God one more time as He agonized about the events which were about to take place on this fateful night, Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus.  He spent the night enduring a secret trial in which He was found guilty and condemned to death, then treated terribly as He had foretold. There was no sleep for Jesus last night, just the physical torture of the men who kept Him captive, and the emotional pain from the sins of the people He came to save. They stripped him of His clothes, beat Jesus with lead-tipped whips, then mocked Him by dressing Him in a purple cloak and placing a crown of thorns upon His head.   The morning found Jesus bearing the weight of His own cross, being led through town up to the hill where He was nailed to a cross and hung to die with two other men who were known criminals.

This was not a quick death, but an agonizing time. In His agony, Jesus cried out to God, not to curse the actions of those who crucified Him, but to say, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”  One of the criminals acknowledged Jesus as an innocent man who didn’t deserve to die like a criminal.  Showing compassion for this man, Jesus said to him, “today you will be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:43) 

At noon, the hour it is as I write, darkness fell on the entire land until three o’clock.

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