Judas brought the Temple Guard into the garden and betrayed his friend with a kiss. Jesus was taken away and brought before the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of elders for the Jews. Here he was questioned and eventually sentenced to death for saying that he was the Son of God. Since the Jews did not have the authority to put anyone to death under Roman occupation, Jesus was sent off to the procurator Pontius Pilate in hopes that he would see the danger Jesus posed and crucify him.
I know how this all turns out, but of course each time I read the scriptures or see a film, I wonder what it would have taken to change things. Surely Pilate, despite being a corrupt bureaucrat, would have seen that Jesus was just a poor itinerant preacher probably wanting to be some kind of prophet and was no danger to Rome. Yet, despite the reality of this, Jesus was dragged in front of the gathering crowd outside and put alongside a murderer and thief named Barabbas. Pilate asked the crowd which one should be released, and the multitudes (prompted by the Temple Guard under the direction of the High Priests) inexplicably screamed for Barabbas to be freed, thus condemning Jesus to death.
This part always puzzles me the most. Here was an odd crowd indeed, for many of them no doubt had lined the streets of Jerusalem only that previous Sunday to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palms and singing his praises vociferously with â€śHosanna.â€ť Now they screamed for a murderer and thief to be spared, knowing that Jesus would die because of it. I didnâ€™t understand it as a kid, and now I believe it is just part of the fickle nature of human beings. Once Jesus had been taken into custody, was stripped of his dignity, and had been scourged, he appeared to them as frail and human as any one of them. They were right about that part but the ultimate spiritual message was lost on them.
I always thought calling the day Jesus was crucified â€śGood Fridayâ€ť was a strange thing. I wanted to call it â€śDark Fridayâ€ť or â€śSolemn Fridayâ€ť or whatever else, but the obvious compulsion toward solemnity is not required here. Yes, Jesus was brutally murdered on the cross, but the ensuing vigil always leads to a glorious moment on Easter Sunday when a victory over death is assured. So even in my darkest despair, I know that I will feel a little leap in my soul three days later, which is probably nothing compared to the overwhelming joy his followers must have felt when they first saw the risen Jesus.