Good Friday Begins
After Jesus had spoken to His disciples for the last time, after He had lifted His eyes to heaven and prayed, He went out to the garden of Gethsemane. There He was arrested but John tells us specifically that Jesus knew “all things that would come upon Him” (John 18:4).
He knew Judas would betray Him. He knew His disciples would forsake Him. That Pilate would crucify Him He knew before the foundation of the world. He even knew the Father would abandon Him on the cross – and yet He went out to the Brook Kidron to initiate the beginning of the end.
Finally the Lamb who was slain before time ever began, had come. “Now is My soul troubled,” we hear Him say, “but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27,28)
Christ the champion
Note the heroic strength of our champion, the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not hide or run when the soldiers and priests came to arrest Him with torches and swords. In fact, when they arrived He stepped out from the crowd of disciples and said, “Whom do you seek?”
Jesus of Nazareth, that earthly name of shame, they spit out from their lips. “I am he,” He answered and when He said His name, that ineffable name that was first spoken to Moses at the burning bush, they fell down to the ground like autumn leaves blasted by the wind.
They meant to shame Him, calling Him a Nazarene, but He made sure they knew who it was who was submitting to them.
Appreciating his glory
John is careful to highlight for us in his gospel the true nature of the One who went to the cross. The carpenter from Nazareth is none other than the Lord of glory. Gone are all the details of His arrest that would take away from our appreciation of His glory.
In John chapter 18 we find no kiss from the betrayer Judas. Here we do not see Him kneeling, filled with sorrow and drenched with sweat. We do not find the words of the prayer: “Father, if it is possible take this cup from Me.”
Instead we hear the Lord of glory telling Peter to put his sword back in its sheath, saying, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given to Me?”
The great Shepherd
Heroically we see Him standing in front of disciples, like a shepherd protecting his flock, saying to those who had come to arrest them, “I have told you that I am he; therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.” He put Himself in harm’s way to rescue His disciples, offering Himself a substitute for their escape.
When we read these words we cannot help but think that in a few hours He would be hanging on a cross doing the same thing – letting these go their way, while He suffered in their place.
God is bound
Like Samson, that champion of old, He let them tie Him up, though His strength was a trillion times greater. Christ was that true Nazarite whose devotion to God never failed nor wavered. We read that the “detachment of troops and the captain of the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him” (John 18:12).
Little did they know that He could have torn apart the ropes like threads before a fire. A grizzly bear robbed of her cubs cannot be held with a harness. Willingly He let them tie Him. And like Samson, the Lord was destined to save more in His death than He did in His life.
The victorious “Adam”
The chosen place of His arrest was a garden, the place where all our troubles began. Because Adam, our federal head, did not yield obedience in the Garden of Eden in the one small request the gracious Lord asked of Him, the whole human race was delivered over into the vicious cycle of sin and death.
Therefore, Death reigned from Adam to Moses and from Moses to Christ. Only by the cross could that runaway train be stopped. The Second Adam had come to put a final end to this seemingly endless cycle.
In another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord assumed responsibility for the rebellion of the whole human race. The cup that held the condemnation of the whole human race was His to drink.
Restoring the lost
He did this, we read, so that He would “lose none.” The Lord Jesus came as a shepherd seeking His lost sheep. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all – Isaiah 53:6.
Seeking for His goodly pearl, the Lord is that merchant man who gave up everything He had to buy that pearl. The Lord is that corn of wheat that fell into the ground in order to produce much grain. To abide alone, our Lord was not willing. He came to seek and to save; He came to restore that which was lost.
Hallelujah, what a Savior
Our Lord laid down His life. No one took it from Him. They bound Him but He was not bound. They killed Him but He had come out from eternity in order to die. They crucified Him but He had prepared Himself a body so that they could do it.
We find the record of this in the book of Acts chapter 4 verse 27 and 28: “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”
Hallelujah, what a Savior. Hallelujah, praise the Lamb.