In the rush to Easter we often overlook Good Friday. “Yes, that’s when Jesus was crucified,” we say, “but He rose again.”
Praise God. But let’s not forget that two thousand years ago very few people expected that miracle. Even His closest followers didn’t understand what was happening. Their hope, their Rabbi had been murdered. Their fears and doubts were allowed to grow in what had to be the longest weekend ever.
For the next few weeks I’d like to imagine what we would hear if we spoke to some of the witnesses. Jesus has been taken, but there has been no resurrection. What are they thinking? What are their concerns?
You caught me, Peter the fearless, hiding, but it’s pointless. My life isn’t worth salvaging, now. They’ve crucified my master, and I had boasted to him “Even if everyone else leaves you, I won’t.”
And what did I do when I was tested? I lied. I pretended he was a stranger. I denied even knowing him and he heard me. He looked directly at me, sad that his prophecy came true.
He warned me at supper when we were all together, you know, but I was too prideful to listen. And then later, right here in the garden he tried to protect me. He asked me to stay awake and pray with him. How many others would give everything to spend that time in prayer with Jesus? But I couldn’t stay awake. Ironic, isn’t it? I couldn’t stay awake and now I feel like I’ll never sleep again. Jesus asked me for an hour of my time, when he would give his life for me. I thought he wanted me to comfort him, but now I’m not sure. What if that time spent in prayer with Jesus would have fortified me for the test to come? I missed an opportunity to fellowship with him. Was that why I failed to declare him later?
If only there was a way to make it up to him, to atone, but now he’s gone. Everything I believed in is gone.
What is truth? That’s what I asked Jesus right before I declared him innocent. Is truth the charges screamed by a roaring crowd or is it a nightmare you have alone in your chamber?
Well, it’s too late now. If you came to see the trial, it’s over and the sentence is being carried out, even as we speak.
If there was ever a case I didn’t want to judge, it was this one. Certainly I’d heard of Jesus. Who in Judea hasn’t? But to me it sounded like just another fanatical, mystical Jewish controversy. Another of their itinerate rabbis stirring up the populace, speaking promises of kingdoms and freedom. It should’ve been obvious that Rome had nothing to fear. His followers—the sick, the lame, children and the elderly—were hardly the beginnings of a military threat.
But Rome isn’t the one who felt threatened. No, it was his own people claiming to be concerned for Caesar. When has the Sanhedrin ever looked out for the Roman government? But I couldn’t ignore them. I thought if I had him scourged, it would satisfy their blood lust. I’ve done things I’m not proud of, but watching Jesus tortured, knowing that those wounds were unwarranted, caused by me… my only consolation was that by scourging him I was protecting him from death.
But I didn’t, did I? In the past hours, I’ve thought and thought, wondering what I could have done differently, but every option had a consequence. There was nothing I could do without jeopardizing my career. In the end, I had to choose what was right for me. It was the only sensible course. Is that the definition of truth—whatever is convenient and expedient at the moment?