(a Special Report by LGS)
This year, the crowds coming to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival seemed to be even larger than before and they were charged with excitement. They had heard of the miracles and teachings of Jesus of Nazarene and some even claimed to have witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead; a man who had been dead for at least four days. Since it was known that the religious authorities wished him silenced, there was much anticipation and debate whether Jesus would come to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem.
Then, news raced through the crowds that Jesus had been spotted approaching the city, riding on a donkey. The people rushed out and lined the road into the waving palm branches and greeting him with shouts of ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!” The soldiers that had been sent by the religious leaders to arrest Jesus decided to withdraw because of the crowd.
For the next few days, Jesus went about in the city and even to the temple where he caused quite a commotion by chasing the money changers out and debating with the religious leaders; embarrassing them with his wisdom and accusing them of hypocrisy.
For the religious leaders, this was the last straw. On Thursday night, a raiding party sent by them arrested Jesus in a garden on the Mount of Olives. From there, things moved quickly. There was the very unusual (and some say illegal) meeting of the Sanhedrin Council in the middle of the night, which led to the decision to send Jesus to the Roman authorities for execution.
When interviewed, Pontius Pilate says that he is “innocent of this man’s blood”. He insists that he wanted to release Jesus because he found Jesus had done nothing wrong but that the Jewish leaders blocked his attempts to release Jesus. To emphasis the point, the governor had made a show of washing his hands of the matter.
Subsequently, on Friday, Jesus was stripped, beaten, whipped and crucified. The crowds that had welcomed with such enthusiasm before now jeered and ridiculed him. Above his head, a mocking sign said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’. In this way, the ‘King’ died in the most painful and humiliating way imaginable.
It must seem that with the death of Jesus that his followers would scatter in disarray. Yet just three days later wild rumors were circulating that Jesus was alive and had been seen by hundreds. His followers claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead!
Since then, some have referred to that particular Friday as Good Friday because Jesus had laid down his life to bring about the completion of God’s plan to save mankind from the consequences of man’s sinful nature and that he defeated death when he rose from the tomb three days later. In doing so, he has given all mankind a hope for reconciliation with God and shows God’s love for us all. And that is Good News!
This is LGS reporting from Jerusalem 2000 years ago. (bet you didn’t know that I was a time traveling squirrel). Wishing all of you a blessed Good Friday and Easter.