Good Friday: What a Day It Was!

by Geo. R. Brunk II

The Lord Jesus came to His own world which He had created but was rejected by His own people who received Him not. When Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," the Pharisees said to Him, "Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go."

In the dialogue recorded in the eighth chapter of John, Jesus said to them, "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. . . . Ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then saith Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself."

The thrust of the above statement appears to be this: When you crucify Me, My Father will show you who I am.

And so He did. Let us review these momentous events of that day.

What an abusive and horrible night that was, preceding the day of His crucifixion! It was only a matter of hours from His arrest to the cross at 9:00 a.m., the third hour. In six hours, He was tried five times by four different "courts." He was accused by witnesses who contradicted themselves and sentenced by a judge who knew and said that He was innocent! Yes, Jesus knocked at the door of His world only to have that door slammed in His tear-streaked face.

If men's hearts were hardened and unmoved, the physical world was visibly shaken on that memorable day.

Darkness Over All the Land

Matthew, Mark and Luke, all three, record this miraculous darkness which lasted for three hours-from the sixth hour (noon) to the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). It is not difficult to visualize and imagine the consternation and confusion that must have prevailed all over the land. What must this have meant to workmen in fields and shops? What must it have meant to housewives at work in their kitchens and to those in all walks of life? We think especially of those gathered around the cross who had heaped upon the Saviour indignities, abuse and ridicule. What could they have done, said or thought during those three hours of intense darkness?

Surely God was showing them that this person that they have crucified is an unusual person. Had not Jesus said, "My Father will show you who I am"?

Yes, we see that motley crowd milling around in disarray and confusion. Did they have any second thoughts? What a wonder it is that voices were not heard crying out in acknowledgment of their wrong judgments of Jesus! What a surprise that voices were not heard calling upon God for pardon and forgiveness! Surely such unheard-of darkness in the middle of the day (except for the plague of Egypt) should have produced expressions of remorse and penitence from at least a few.

The Veil in the Temple Was Rent

This also is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. These are the only references to the veil of the temple in the New Testament (the reference in the book of Hebrews is to the veil in the tabernacle). This veil divided or separated the Holy Place of the temple from the Holy of Holies. It is reported that this veil or curtain was so tightly woven that it admitted no single ray of light entered into the most Holy Place. Tradition has it that this curtain was stretched and tested against the light of the sun to be sure that the darkness of the most Holy Place was preserved.

No human foot dare enter the Holy of Holies with the exception of the high priest, who entered once a year on the Day of Atonement for the purpose of presenting sacrifice and incense before the Lord. It was in this place that the Ark of the Covenant rested until the captivity.

We have no record that our Lord Jesus Christ ever entered either the Holy or the Most Holy Place. He did His teaching in the precincts of the temple.

But when He was crucified, that veil (heavy curtain) was rent in twain from top to bottom and sagged away to either side, exposing the Most Holy Place to view and turning its darkness into light.

The message of God to the world was this: All God's children now have access to the throne of grace!

But what a surprise, that evidently the priests that were on duty that day in the temple did not cry out in remorseful acknowledgment of their blindness and unbelief.

Was not the Father again showing the world that it was His Son Jesus who was being crucified?

The Earthquake

Matthew tells us that "the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" (27:51). Then again, Matthew tells us that on the Sabbath, "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was [had been] a great earthquake." So, we have two earthquakes-one on the day Jesus was crucified, and another on the day He was raised from the dead.

Was it not enough that there had been total darkness for three hours and that the veil in the temple had been rent from top to bottom? Should this not have persuaded the unbelieving population that He whom they had crucified was, indeed, the Son of God?

Again, we say, what a surprise that there was not a great outcry of remorse and acknowledgment of their sin and rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. What an opportunity this was for a great sweeping revival. But we read nothing of the kind.

And the rocks were rent. Who knows but what we have is evidence even in this day as we view the slanted layers of rock in mountain passes? If these dislocations did not occur on the day of Jesus' crucifixion, then when?

The Opening of the Graves

Matthew reports that "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:52-54).

We observe that this occurred after the resurrection of our Lord so that He was, indeed, the firstfruits of them that slept.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine what consternation, confusion and fear this must have brought to the hearts of the people who seemed yet unconvinced that Jesus was the Son of God. Think of it!-"dead" people walking on the streets of Jerusalem! Yes, it says that they appeared unto many. Doubtless, those many were sent screaming for seclusion and shelter.

Was it a dream? Were they having hallucinations? Let us try to imagine what such a spectacular incident would mean today. Perhaps it was a relative or a neighbor whose grave had opened and who was now making an appearance. What an unforgettable and memorable jolt this must have been to the population. And again, we inquire, why was there no outcry of remorse in acknowledgment that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God? What an occasion this was for a mighty revival. But only the centurion and they that were with him seemed to be moved, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God."

What a day it was! Heaven itself must have been moved even as the physical earth was so miraculously shaken with the darkness, the rending of the veil, the earthquake and the opening of the graves.

The' absence of any widespread reversal of judgment in the light of all these visitations is proof of the hardness of heart and the blindness of the unregenerate mind.

From the Sword and Trumpet, May 1998, page 6-9. Geo. R. Brunk II is the editor of this Mennonite magazine.

P. O. Box 575
Harrisonburg, VA 22802-0575
Subscription rate: 1 year US $10.50
Phone: 540-434-1219 E-mail address: GeoBrunkII@AOL.COM



You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and source.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.

This page is presented by:

Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Phone: 574-875-8007

Back to the Articles page.

Return to Home Page

May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

June 22, 2000