Good Friday's Reading: Matthew 26:28, 27:1-34
On Good Friday several years ago, I was about to read again the familiar story of Jesus’ arrest, trials, and crucifixion. But I didn’t want familiarity to breed apathy. So, I prayed, "Lord, would you let me see this familiar story with fresh eyes?" Then I opened Mathew’s Gospel and a single word jumped off the page: Blood.
That’s not a surprising word to see in the story about the crucifixion of Jesus. What is surprising though is how it’s used. Matthew doesn’t use blood to describe Jesus’ actual crucifixion; yet he uses it five times before Jesus was tortured and murdered. Judas, the priests, Pilate, and the crowd each talked about Jesus’ blood. Their different responses toward Jesus’ blood reveal the various responses we have to the Gospel.
Judas: “I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood!" Matt 27:3
Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is famous. And after committing it, he sees his sin clearly and is overcome with guilt. "How can I undo what I’ve done?! What do I do with this incurable guilt," Judas says to himself.
Guilt can drive you to self-condemnation. And as we see in Judas’ suicide, self-condemnation can kill you. Judas’ response to Jesus’ blood is “I blew it! I need to pay for this sin myself.” The story continues…
Priests: “It is against the law to put this money in the treasury, since it is blood money, so they decided to use the money to buy a field.” Matt 27:6
The chief priests hired Judas and rigged Jesus’ trials. What do they do when they see their guilt? They do a good deed—they purchase a field to bury the poor. Judas saw his sin and punished himself. The priests saw their sin and tried to fix it themselves.
This is the route most people take when they feel guilt. They hope their good deeds make up for their bad. “I blew it! I need to make up for it!” It’s called religion. The story continues…
Pilate: “I am innocent of His blood.” Matt 27:24
Pilate is the Roman governor who is forced to sanction Jesus’ death sentence. He goes along with the Jewish leaders by declaring, “I am innocent of His blood!” Jesus’ blood doesn’t apply to me; I’ve done nothing wrong. The story continues...
Crowd: “Let His blood be upon us and our children.” Matt 27:25
Pilate and the crowd represent those who are ignorant of what Jesus’ blood means. They don’t see their own sin, so they don’t see a need for God’s forgiveness. Sure, they acknowledge something significant is happening to Jesus, but the story of His blood doesn’t affect their own story. It’s not that His blood isn’t real; it just doesn’t apply to them.
“His blood is on us and our children,” they shout. The irony is thick. Because no one wants this for them more than Jesus Himself! He was the first to talk about His blood. 15 hours before, Jesus raised His cup and extended a new covenant by saying…
Jesus: “This is My blood of the covenant, which is for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matt 26:28
Jesus introduced the Easter story with His blood. Then He invited us into that story. In saying these words, Jesus assumes two things. First, “many” (all) have sinned. Second, forgiveness is needed and available through His blood!
Good Friday is not a story of religion that seeks a self-solution to the guilt we feel over sin. Good Friday is a story of grace that comes to us through a God-solution—the blood of Jesus!
Today we celebrate the Gospel—the sacrifice for our sin that comes only through Jesus’ blood. On Sunday we will celebrate new life in Christ that comes only through His resurrection. Together, these two events form the Good News of Easter. And it all began with a story of His blood.
This week we invite you and your family to take a trip with us. Place a suitcase/bag where it can be seen all week and each day we will add a new item to it. For parent introduction and a list of items to be gathered before you begin, visit Journey with Jesus.
Day 6: Journey with Jesus
Add to the suitcase: a nail
Read: Luke 23:33–34
Process and discuss together:
- What does this tell us about Jesus?
- What does it tell us about ourselves?
- How should we follow Jesus today because of this scripture?
- Who could you tell this story to?
- Pray together.