To begin describing what happened on Good Friday, we need to quickly recap the events that led up to this point. Basically, Jesus had been betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas, who let the authorities know where Jesus was. So after the Last Supper, and whilst the disciples were sleeping in the garden of Gethsemane, soldiers came and arrested Jesus.
Jesus before the court
During the night of his arrest, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the Jewish law and the elders had assembled.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the whole court were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they didn’t find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two came forward and, after some questioning, were able to convict Jesus on blasphemy charges.
Peter disowns Jesus
As mentioned earlier, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, listening to what was taking place. At this point, a bunch of locals thought they recognised him and accused him of being a follower of Jesus.
Afraid of the repercussions, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. It was at this point that Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” He went outside and wept bitterly, full of shame.
Judas hangs himself
Still early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders made their plans on how to have Jesus executed. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the area during the time.
When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, which he was given for informing them on Jesus’ location. Judas threw the money into the temple and left. He then went away and hanged himself.
Jesus before Pilate
Meanwhile, Jesus stood before Pilate and the governor asked him about the charges levelled against him by the Jewish court. Pilate was amazed that Jesus didn’t try to deny the charges.
During these days, it was the governor’s custom at the time of festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time, they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Barabbas. When the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them if they wanted him or Jesus to be released.
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But the mob continued to shout for Jesus to be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, and saw that an uproar was starting, he washed his hands in front of the crowd, telling them that killing Jesus was their responsibility. He then released Barabbas to them, had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers mock Jesus
Pontius Pilate’s soldiers then took Jesus into a Roman courtyard. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him; they then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.
They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him, mocking him, before proceeding to physically abuse him. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The crucifixion of Jesus
As the soldiers were going out, they met a man called Simon, forcing him to carry the cross that would be used to crucify Jesus.
They came to a place called Golgotha. There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left, including a man named Dismas. Those who passed by hurled insults at Jesus, shaking their heads and mocking his claims of being God.
The death of Jesus
From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over the area. At about 3pm, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing there heard this, one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.
Then, when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he died.
At that moment, the earth shook, rocks split and tombs broke open. The bodies of various holy people who had died were raised to life.
When the centurion, and those with him who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, now believing that he was the Son of God.
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Jesus’ mother, Mary.
The burial of Jesus
As evening approached, there came a rich man called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pontius Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate obliged.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
At this point, many of Jesus’ disciples must have felt a sense of despair. But as we know, the events three days later on Easter Sunday completely changed that…