“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11) “[that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]” (Amplified Bible)
We are never told in the Scriptures that we must celebrate the day of Jesus’ death on the Cross. However, on the night of His betrayal and arrest, Jesus instituted the frequent act of Communion, the LORD’s Supper, as a way to remember all that it cost Him to redeem man from their sins. It seemed that His disciples had limited understanding of what He would endure during the next 24 hours or so, but after the Holy Spirit came, they knew and remembered His Words.
It was a deeply personal statement that the Apostle Paul shared with the Church at Philippi. Nothing else in all his life mattered to Paul. He was laying all things aside in his pursuit of knowing Christ intimately. To gain the highest degree of fellowship with Christ the LORD, he was even willing to share in the experience of His sufferings, even to his own death. Paul had in mind in regard to our LORD’s sufferings all that took place in His life from leaving the Upper Room with His disciples to His last breath on the Cross of Calvary. Paul had it right. How can we know the fellowship of His sufferings without seeing His Cross for ourselves, and be ready . . .
Today, the message of the Cross is not clear! What is the message of the Cross? Matthew 27:35-51—
35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:
THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.
Beloved, from 12 noon till 3 pm, there was total darkness over all the land. Creation groaned. The Sun saw what fallen man was doing to the Creator and the Sun refused to put its light upon the scene of evil. Nature was repulsed over man’s sinful ways.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
49 The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split . . .”
The sufferings of Jesus began in earnest in the Garden of Gethsemane . . .
The Prayer in the Garden
39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:39-44)
Jesus knew what was coming in the many hours ahead. Rejection. Mockings. Beatings. The scourging. The CROSS! He was in great travail of heart and spirit. Sweating with blood is called hematohidrosis; it may occur in individuals who suffer from extreme levels of stress. In His human dilemma, He prayed that it might be in the Father’s will to rescue Him from what He saw coming. But beloved, our LORD Jesus finished His prayer by saying, “Not My will, but Yours, be done!”
Shortly after, Judas led the soldiers to where Jesus was in the Garden. Jesus knew this was to happen and who the betrayer would be, but in His humanity He was being betrayed by one who had been close to Him for three years. That has to have had an effect in the moment. Sufferings.
Jewish law said there could be no private or secret examinations, scrutinizes, or inquisitions. Neither is an accused to be arrested at night. Jesus was arrested at night and taken to Caiaphas to be tried. Remember, this was the Lamb of God! Jesus Christ was God, our Creator! He was God in a human body!
Male sperm determines the blood. Mary had no sexual relationships with any man. God’s blood flowed in Jesus’ veins! Sinless blood! Jesus walked among sinners, yet never sinned. Now, sinful man beat the Lamb of God, God’s Son, in the face; they pulled out the Word’s beard. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) Sinful man was assaulting the Word, Jesus’ creation, including His beard! They even spit in God’s face!
He was sent to Pilot, and then to Herrod, who only wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle, and then He was sent back to Pilot. Pilot didn’t know what to do with Jesus. That is the tragedy of so many people; they simply do not know what to do with this man called Jesus and all the Bible says about Him. Pilot was in a difficult situation. He knew Jesus had done no wrong; He was not deserving of the death the Jewish religious leaders demanded.
Pilot tried to appease the crowd by offering a choice to release Jesus or Barabas. They wanted wicked Barabas over God the Son! Many of these same people, a week earlier had publicly cried, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” now cried publicly, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!’
Under much pressure, fear, and confusion, Pilot failed to have control of the crowd and the moment, and he ordered the God of very God to be scourged.
The scourging. Historically, this would be carried out with a whip of nine leather thongs which would have lead spiked balls embedded in the ends of each strap, along with metal, glass, bone, and ivory chards along its length. This was designed in such a way that these lengthy straps would wrap around a victim’s torso and these leaded spiked balls and any other sharp device would dig deeply into the skin. After a brief pause, the flogger would then jerk back the whip ripping the skin in shreds. Many victims in this whipping would not live long enough to be crucified, but Jesus endured the suffering to fulfill the Scriptures.
More mocking, a royal robe and a crown of thorns; Jesus was led away to the place of the skull, Calvary, the Cross. The Cross was not a finely crafted smooth finished cross; this was an old, splintery, rugged piece of wood. Upon arrival at the place of crucifixion, the robe placed on Jesus was ripped from His back with cruel precision. The flogging had opened deep wounds all around His body, perhaps as many as 351 individual ripping lashes oozing blood. The journey to Calvary likely had caused some coagulation of blood clinging to the robe they had pressed upon His back. The jerking of the robe from His back no doubt reopened the wounds and caused the nerving ending to awaken in excruciating pain. It is this back which was laid on the rough old Cross stretched out on the dusty ground of Calvary. Splinters from the Cross jabbing into His already wounded back.
The nails. The spikes. While stretched out on the Cross, the nails, perhaps like 10 inch railroad spikes, were strategically placed through His hands and feet; fastened to His Cross. The Cross was lifted from the ground with Jesus firmly attached. It was dropped in a hole to hold it upright with a hard thud when it hit the bottom. This may have fulfilled the prophecy which said all his bones were out of joint.
The demonic world looked at the Cross and they cheered as though they had won a victory. But, they had not won; they had only lost in a crushing defeat.
Around the Cross was a mixture of grieving friends and family, and then there were the religious elite who thought their threat was over; the human perspective.
Then there was God’s perspective of the Cross. When He saw the Cross He saw His Son hanging limp. The blood. His blood went screaming up to heaven saying, “This is the pure, innocent, sinless blood of the Lamb, which was shed for the sins of the world; it’s perfect and it’s righteous and it’s powerful!”
Paul, this is the fellowship of His sufferings you want to know! Beloved believer, this was what Jesus Christ endured to purchase your redemption. This was His Cross! This is your Good Friday! It was not good for Him in the way we call good, but it was good for Him in that it was the good, perfect plan to redeem fallen man. And, it was and is good for you if you can and will accept His offer for your salvation. Have you properly identified with the sufferings of Jesus? Yes, this is Good Friday . . . Glory!