I want you to imagine the apostle John on this good Friday. It is as I write this.
Do you think John was asleep by on the day Jesus was slaughtered?
Think about that for a moment. We use words like “surreal”, and unreal, and other various phrases to describe something we just cannot believe is happening. Think about John.
This is the one Jesus loved. Of all the gospels written in story form, I find John's to be the most personal. Yet when he wrote it, especially the crucifixion, he barely showed emotion.
Is there a reason for this? I like to think there is, and I believe that the overwhelming event of the resurrection caused John to almost completely forget his grief over that Good Friday.
But that’s not what this article is about. I’d like to touch John’s heart for a moment on this night.
Recall that John was the one who was inside as Jesus was tried by the scribes and Pharisees. What must he have been thinking? Would thoughts such as “Jesus will get off from this. There’s no way they are going to hold Him for long, after all, have they not themselves witnessed His miracles?”
But as the evening wore on after His arrest, and morning approached, John’s heart must have begun to quail. A kangaroo court had been set against Jesus, an illegal one at that. That’s right, check into the facts on this. The court that tried Jesus acted completely against Jewish law for a Passover, as well as an evening gathering of the Sanhedrin, with not all of its members present to give their opinion. Truly, this was a conspiracy, and the court that tried Jesus, and then handed Him over to Pilate was acting blatantly illegal for all to see. So much for the righteousness of Pharisees, right?
As Jesus was handed over to Pilate, John may well have been pushed out of the way, not able to witness the trial as closely as he wished. Yet throughout the early morning, he certainly would have stayed very close to his friend, his teacher, his Lord. What must he be thinking?
Imagine it, if you can. Here is the man who met Moses and Elijah on the mountain top. Here is the man who was transfigured before John’s eyes. This man, Jesus, John’s closest friend in the world, had turned water into wine, given sight to the blind, and raised people from the dead on several different occasions. If ever a man had reason to feel disconnected, to use the word “surreal”, it was John.
Picture him watching as Pilate feebly attempts to gain control of the mob outside of his quarters. Watch John as Jesus is flogged, and brought before the crowd, tattered and bloody, a shell of what He once was even before He was crucified. When John heard that Jesus was to be flogged, was there hope that this punishment might be the lowest depths that Jesus would suffer? Was there hope that the flogging would be the end, and Jesus would escape with His life? Would John dare hope so? He may well have hoped this, yet in the back of his mind, he would be realistic about Jesus’ chances of surviving the flogging. Everyone in
And then the verdict is reached, Pilate is not able to save Jesus’ life. He is to be crucified, and John’s worst fears, the most remote thoughts, have come to pass. For how could John, or Peter, or anyone else ever really believe that Jesus could be killed in such a way, by His own people? This is the Messiah!!!
Imagine John’s heart, and the pit of his stomach, as he watches them nail Jesus to the tree. Feel the unreality that John feels. How is this possible? He did good!! He was not evil!! Nicodemus, He taught you!! You, Pharisees, you saw Him heal all of them, how can you do this to God’s chosen One? Jesus!!!!!!! Use your power! Why won't you use your power?
Could those thoughts have been passing through John’s mind? Can you picture yourself as John? What would you feel? And if Jesus could be killed, this the Messiah, what hope was there now for anyone else?
John lived with this nightmare for three days. Do you think he was broken?