FRIDAY | FORSAKEN
It’s getting late on Thursday night. Jesus finished what would become known as The Last Supper with his disciples and now he wants to go to his prayer spot in a garden down the road. The disciples, less Judas, accompany him amidst yawns and mutters of frustration; this is going to be a long night. They were right. They fall asleep while Jesus is praying because they’re exhausted and it’s looking like he might pray until morning. Then they hear people coming. There shouldn’t be anyone else out at this time of night. Not here. But before they know it the garden is lit up like a party and there is a whole company of soldiers led by Judas. They arrest Jesus. He just lets them arrest him. What’s happening? Not knowing what else to do, they panic and run. Peter does a loop and follows Jesus into the court of the Chief Priest. It’s getting near sunup now and he’s hoping that he’s dreaming. Maybe if he gets close enough, he can hear what they’re saying. Out of nowhere, a little girl asks him if he knows Jesus. Peter says ‘no’ and dismisses her. He doesn’t think anything of it. He’s the only one risking his neck to stick with Jesus anyway. Then it happens twice more. Then the rooster crows to bring in the morning, and Jesus turns and looks at him. Now he’s sick to his stomach. Jesus, forsaken by his friends.
- Read Luke 22:54-62. Have you ever had times when you have hidden your relationship with Christ and justified it at “means to an end”?
- Spend a moment to reflect on Jesus, totally alone and forsaken by his friends and followers, heading to the cross.
Pilate is confused. He gets woken up early to decide the fate of a man he knows to be innocent. But he also knows that he has been causing chaos in his constituency. The Jewish leaders hate him and want him dead. The crowds love him; on Sunday, they were treating him like he was some kind of god. It’s a lose-lose situation, so decides to take the easy way out and send the decision to the crowd who’s already gathered early around his house. They love Jesus. But it goes terribly wrong. The crowds are now crying ‘crucify!’ at the same man they were shouting ‘Savior!’ to on Sunday. He doesn’t know what else to do, so he capitulates to their cry and releases Jesus to be crucified. Jesus, forsaken by his followers.
- Read Mark 15:1-20. Reflect on the fickleness of the crowds, who completely turned on him in the space of 5 days. How have you seen fickleness in your commitment to Christ?
John is at the cross watching in horror and disbelief. Jesus, naked, bleeding, dying, is hanging on the cross between two filthy criminals. He can’t last much longer, and John is quickly giving up hope that God will pull him down off the cross. But surely. God is with him. He’ll get him down. Then, Jesus cries something out. It’s clear, but John still can’t believe his ears. Forsaken! God? Forsake Jesus. No, surely not. Then Jesus dies. Your God, dead on a cross. Jesus, forsaken by his God.
- Read Mark 15:21-41. Reflect on the fact that God turned away from Jesus in his innocence so that he could turn towards you in your sin. Spend a moment worshipping God for his mercy.
The criminal dying next to Jesus looks over, and, in his last hour of life, sees what he has never seen. The pure and undefiled Love of God hanging in front of his eyes. And when everyone else abandons Jesus, he owns him. A miracle of repentance. He knows it won’t change anything, for he deserves the hell he’s heading towards. And Jesus, smiling through the pain, owns him back. The greater miracle.
- Read Luke 23:39-43. Reflect on the tragedy of the religious people’s rejection of Jesus, and the beauty of this sinner’s repentance. Do you see yourself more in the pride of the Jews or the brokenness of the sinner?
- Take a moment and worship God that he would save a sinner like you.
Download the full Holy Week Devotional here: