Having already been betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, denied by Peter, abandoned by His friends, and beaten in the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, Jesus spent part of Thursday night alone in the darkness of this pit. Take a moment and read Psalm 88 – it is the heart breaking picture of how He would have felt that night.
Early Friday morning He was pulled from the pit and put on trial in front of Pilate and Herod, mercilessly beaten repeatedly, and eventually sentenced to death. The Roman soldiers played “The Kings Game” with Him at Antonia Fortress, where you can still see traces of the rules to the game carved into the stone, and where our Savior’s DNA rests in between those rocks.
Beaten, exhausted, and because of OUR SIN, He had to carry the weight of His cross to Golgotha, where He was hung below a sign: ‘The King of the Jews’. He was unjustly crucified beside mockers and thieves. He was spit upon, yelled at, and His side was pierced, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10.
As He hung there, nails through His hands and feet, unable to breathe without pushing Himself up and beaten beyond recognition, darkness fell across the land. Around three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?‘ Then Jesus shouted out again, proclaiming “Tetelestai” or ”It is finished“! And He released His spirit. At that very moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, giving every person on earth – every person - access to God and His salvation from sin.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
On Friday night, His breathless body was lowered from the cross and carried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to a borrowed garden tomb, where His body was wrapped in spices and linens, and laid to rest.
Saturday was a day of silence. The followers of Jesus were afraid and in hiding. Everything that they had given their lives and families up for was gone. They doubted everything that they had believed for the last three years. And they will not begin to understand why He has abandoned them until tomorrow morning. But we have read it, and we know that He will be raised again early Sunday morning. And we can rejoice in the fact that this tomb… is EMPTY.
“But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that He had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell His eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.” Luke 24:1-9