Three Day Weekend
This was a three day weekend for me. My place of employment recognizes Good Friday as a holiday. Three day weekends are something to look forward too. Even though I enjoy my work, I always look forward to a short work week.
Jesus, on the other hand, wasn’t looking forward to this particular weekend. He had quite a few things on his mind.
During the Festival of Unleavened Bread, at the Passover meal with his disciples, he told them that one of them, one of his chosen, would betray him.
“When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”
He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago.”
Jesus knew ahead of time that one of them would betray him into death. That had to way heavy on his mind. It reminds me of some lyrics I once heard;
Only a friend can betray a friend,
A stranger has nothing to gain.
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain."
Being betrayed by a friend is very painful. Not a physical pain like a broken bone or severe cut, but the hurt is inside your heart and inside your mind. Friendship goes out the window, trust is no longer there. And very often these traits are replaced by hate.
Both the Old and the New Testaments deal with hatred. Ecclesiastes 3:8 teaches that there is a "time to love, and a time to hate;" However, the Old Testament also contains condemnations of hatred. For example, "thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart". The New Testament emphasizes that evil intentions can be as serious as evil actions.
Thus John counted hatred as serious as murder: (1 John 3) "whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself". That is a very powerful statement.
Besides knowing that he would be betrayed by a friend, Jesus also knew that he would be deserted by all of his closest followers.
After the Passover meal, on the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus told them, (Matt 26 31) Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Later that night, when that prediction came true and the rooster crowed after Peter’s third denial Luke 22:61 records “At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
That passage sends chills down mine spine “the Lord turned and looked at Peter.”
I don’t ever want that ‘look’ from the Master.
I think of Jesus’ words in Mark 8:38 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The physical abuse that Jesus suffered at the crucifixion was so horrific that we tend to overlook the mental anguish that he suffered prior to his death:
Betrayed – Deserted - Denied
And he knew ahead of time that this would happen.
Jesus wasn’t looking forward to this weekend at all.
In Matt 26:36-39 it’s recorded how Jesus was feeling at this time. He even asked his father, three times, to remove this cup of suffering:
“Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying,
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Anguished and distressed, troubled and despaired, sorrowful and very heavy, his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.
No, Jesus wasn’t looking forward to this weekend at all.
And it didn’t stop there.
Even at his trial before Pilot, he suffered indignation from the very people he was here to save. Matthew 27:22–25 records that Pilot asked the people “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Can you imagine how Jesus felt when he heard these things?
Crucify him, crucify him. His blood is on us and our children.
Even as he was dying on the cross Matthew 27:39-44 records that the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they laughed at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.”
Despite all this, his only response is recorded in Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
It’s hard for us to imagine being flogged with a lead tipped whip or having our hands and feet nailed to a wooden cross but we can relate to being betrayed, deserted, denied, mocked, ridiculed and laughed at.
No Jesus wasn’t looking forward to any of this, but he endured it for our sake. Because, he is looking forward for us to be with him in the kingdom. His resurrection from the dead gives us hope that we will be in the kingdom with him.
In 1Cor15:20 -24 the apostle Paul declares that “Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection:
Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ then, is fundamental, and part of the foundation of our faith. Our Master has gone before as a forerunner to prepare the way, and we shall surely follow, and partake of the victory against Sin that he has accomplished.
When we consider the resurrection of our Master therefore, we consider the very basis of our own salvation – a resurrection at the time of his coming. This was the hope of the Apostle Paul, who desired that he “may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11).
Brothers and sisters, the foundation of our faith rest on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection he told them “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We are all under the law of sin and death, which brings certain condemnation to all who are affected by it.
But by the raising up of Jesus out from the grave, we see the means by which that unchangeable law becomes nullified.
True, if the Master remains away, we shall all die.
The law will operate to its conclusion. But we, like Christ can be raised up again to a newness of life. These are the principles that we come together to memorialize each week in the bread and in the wine: the great declaration of God’s Righteousness in the offering up of His Son.
And as we share these emblems this morning, remember this: Even though Jesus wasn’t looking forward to that terrible three day weekend, He is looking forward to us being with him in the kingdom of God forever and ever.