I didn’t sleep so well despite how exhausted I was from last night. I heard from one of the disciples that Judas Iscariot hung himself first thing this morning. I am honestly not surprised. How could he betray our Master and Friend? But then again, I am no better, I ran away when they arrested Jesus.
I walked to the center of Jerusalem and I saw a crowd of people gathering. I decided to join the crowd as I was curious as to what was going on. We all ended up in front of Pilate’s house. I saw Mary, Jesus’ mom and Mary the mother of James and John, so I went over to be with them. I also saw some of the disciples mingling together. I wondered what all the commotion was about. I understood when I saw Jesus on the balcony of the house. We made our way to the front of the crowd so we could hear what was going on.
Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews.
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes. Pilate asked Jesus if he was going to respond to the accusations. Jesus said nothing.
Each year during the Passover celebration it was customary to release one prisoner to the crowd, usually anyone they wanted. This year there was a man named Barabbas. Barabbas (meaning son of the father) stood next to Jesus in front of us. Pilate asked everyone, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas or Jesus?”
While waiting for a response, Pilate sat down on his judgment seat and his wife began talking to him. While they were talking, the priests and elders were telling the crowd to say “release Barabbas.”
Pilate stood up and asked the people again who they wanted to be released, they all said, “Barabbas!”
Pilate then asked us, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
The crowd shouted, “Crucify him!”
My heart sank. This man is my friend. He has done nothing wrong. Why are they shouting to crucify him? Did they not know that Jesus is truly the Son of God our Father, not Barabbas even though his name suggests that?
Pilate asked them “Why? What crime did he commit?”
But the crowd continued to shout louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate was very disturbed. He sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands in front of us saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
People yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death!”
Barabbas was released to the crowd who were rejoicing. Jesus was sentenced to flogging and crucifixion.
I began to weep. I could not believe all that happened in the past hours. I, the other ladies with me and the disciples followed Jesus to the soldier’s headquarters. There they stripped Jesus, put a purple robe on him, wove thorn branches into a crown and placed it on his head. They placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. They knelt before him mocking him and spitting on him.
They shouted, “Hail! King of the Jews!”
They grabbed the stick and began to hit Jesus on his head. The crown of thorns was pushed deep into his skull. They beat him with a lead tipped whip. We watched as his skin was torn and blood began to pour out from his back, his sides, his legs and his arms. I struggled watching this brutality. I didn’t understand why they were doing this.
When they were finished mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put back on his regular clothes and then led him away to be crucified.
We walked behind Jesus and a crowd followed us. I even saw my neighbor (the one I had problems with) on the side of the road watching as Jesus carried his cross. Jesus carried it for quite a way but collapsed due to such a great loss of blood. A man named Simon picked up the cross and carried it for him up to the hill called Golgotha.
When we arrived on the hill, they nailed Jesus to the cross. I cringed as I heard the sound of the hammer and watching the nails go into his hands and feet.
Jesus winced in pain but said nothing.
When they rose the cross up, we saw a sign they placed above Jesus’ head; it said “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” in different languages. There were two other people being crucified beside Jesus.
While Jesus was on the cross, people who were around us were shouting abuse, shaking their heads at him. They said, “Ha! Look at you now! Well, then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests and rabbis also mocked Jesus, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah come down from the cross so we can see and believe him!”
Jesus just looked at them with love and compassion in his eyes and said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
But the crowds just continued mocking Jesus, “He saved others, let him save himself, if he really is God’s Messiah, the chosen one.”
The soldiers shouted, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
One of the criminals next to Jesus laughed at him saying, “So, you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself and us too!”
The other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to death. We deserve our punishment, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus said to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
From noon until 3 o’clock, a great darkness covered the land. At about 3 p.m. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Jesus shouted, “Father I entrust my spirit into your hands.”
Then he said, “It is finished!”
Jesus bowed his head. I heard the last gasp of air. Jesus died.
I just broke down in tears.
The earth shook, tombs opened up and bodies of godly men and women who had died rose from the dead! The Roman officer and the other soldiers were terrified and said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Inside I was shouting at these people, “Why? You heard his teachings, you saw miracles, but you still didn’t believe. He showed nothing but love and compassion for everyone. And what do you do, you have him crucified!”
The crowds began to disperse, people walked back towards their home. The neighbor I told you about was standing there with tears in his eyes. He left with his head down. Who knows, maybe he will truly believe Jesus is the Messiah and our God is the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I stayed behind with the other ladies watching as they broke the legs of the criminals beside Jesus. It was customary for them to do this so people would die quicker. It was just before the Sabbath. When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead. I held on to Mary, Jesus’ mother’s arm as they pierced his side with a spear. Immediately blood and water flowed out.
Mary, the mother of James and John, John, and I held onto Jesus’ mother. We all just hugged each other weeping. Words cannot even begin to describe the grief we felt. Our souls were in anguish.
Joseph, a wealthy man from Arimathea came to take the body down from the cross. He wrapped Jesus in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. We walked with Joseph and watched as he placed Jesus’ body in his own tomb near the hill where Jesus died. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance of the tomb.
We stood there for what seemed like hours. Then we turned to go to our homes. I went with Mary, the mother of James and John and we prepared spices and ointments to anoint Jesus’ body. But by the time we were finished, the Sabbath had begun.
We could do nothing until sundown Saturday night, early hours of Sunday morning. All we could do now is rest. There were so many things that were going through my mind. I was still exhausted, but there was no way I could sleep.
The thing that bothered me the most was even though I knew Jesus said he was going to die, I never thought it would really happen. I also never got to tell Jesus I loved him. Mary of Bethany was able to at Simon’s house. I am so grateful for all he did for me. I am a totally different person since I met him. I love Jesus and he did as he said at the Passover meal, he laid down his life for me. He is truly my friend and I am his. I just wish I could have told him how much he means to me.
For further study: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19