The Night Before Good Friday

If you knew tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would you do?

I’m sure that most of us would spend our remaining moments with our family and loved ones, we would go somewhere peaceful and private. We would try to relish every moment, whilst reliving every precious memory and try to leave nothing left unsaid.

A little over two thousand years ago, Jesus had a night like this.

The night before he died, after the Last Supper, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray. The Gospel of Luke records that Jesus’s anguish was so great that he sweated blood. Jesus knew what was about to come and the clock was running out of time. It would be the last time he had a moment with his disciples before his death.

The Gospel of John tells us that right before he was arrested, and subsequently tried and crucified, Jesus prayed a long prayer. In fact, it’s the longest prayer recorded in the New Testament. In the “The High Priestly Prayer,” Jesus, though completely aware of his coming death focused more on his disciples and those who will believe through their Gospels than on himself. His chief request to the Father is that he would make them one.

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name, the name you gave Me, so that they may be one as we are one,” prays Jesus for his disciples (John 17:11). He knew his impending death would be their greatest trial. Their faith would be tested like it had never been tested before, and in that moment the success of the early church would hinge on their unity.

But Jesus was also looking beyond those around him that night, to those who would put their faith in him through the ages.

“My prayer is not for them alone,” continues Jesus. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

Even then, at that agonizing hour, Jesus wanted his followers to understand that the credibility of the cross and the empty tomb would be contingent on the unity of the church. Without unity, the church loses its ability to effectively communicate the message of the gospel.

Division abounds in almost every country in the world these days. Sadly, it exists even between Christians and in most churches. We’ve allowed politics and theology to divide and fragment us. This isn’t what Jesus intended for his followers.

I firmly believe unity in this world begins in the church. It’s in the church where any dividing barrier — whether racial, political or social — should come down. As Billy Graham would say, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”

In this time of great division, the church must lead the way in modeling unity. That’s what Jesus asked of us the night before Good Friday.

Adapted From:

What Happened On Good Friday?

A Timeline of Jesus’s Last Day

After midnight on Friday morning Judas lead soldiers to arrest Jesus

Luke 22:47-53

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’

When Jesus’s followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’

See Also: Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-11

Friday Morning (4am to 6am)

Jesus was taken before Annas and Caiaphas.

John 18:13-14

and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Matthew 26:62-66

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent.

The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’

‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’

‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.

See Also: Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, Luke 22:54, John 18:12-14, 19-23

Peter Denies Jesus

Mark 14:53-54

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

Mark 14:66-72

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said.

But he denied it. ‘I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entrance.

When the servant-girl saw him there, she said again to those standing round them, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about.’

Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.

See Also: Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:55-62, John 18:15-18, 25-27

6am to 8am on Friday Morning

Jesus’s Trial Before Pontius Pilate

Matthew 27:11-14

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’

‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor.

See Also: Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-22, John 18:28-38, 19:1-16

Barabbas is Freed

Mark 15:15

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

See Also: Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:18-19, 23-25, John 18:39-40

Jesus Carries His Cross with Help from Simon of Cyrene

John 19:17

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

Luke 23:26

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

See Also: Matthew 27:31-34, Mark 15:21-22, Luke 23:26-32, John 19:17

9 AM Friday Morning

Jesus Is Crucified

Mark 15:25-26

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: The King Of The Jews.

See Also: Matthew 27:35-37, Mark 15:25-26, Luke 23:33-38, John 19:18-22

Friday 9 AM to 12 PM

Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’s Clothes

Luke 23:34 

Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

See Also: Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24

The Crowd Mocks Jesus 

Matthew 27:39-43

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’

See Also: Matthew 27:39-43, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-39

Jesus Speaks from the Cross

Luke 23:43

Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’

John 19:26-27

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

See Also: Luke 23:39-43, John 19:25-27

Friday – 12 Noon to 3 pm

The Earth Responds

Mark 15:33

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

Luke 23:44-45

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

See Also: Matthew 27:45, 51-53, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44-45

Friday 3 PM

Jesus Dies

Mark 15:34-39

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’

See Also: Matthew 27:46-56, Mark 15:34-41, Luke 23:46-49, John 19:28-30

Friday 3 PM to 6 PM

Soldiers Pierce Jesus’s Side

John 19:33-37

But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’s side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’

See: John 19:31-37

Joseph of Arimathea Claims Jesus’s Body

Luke 23:50-54

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’s body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

See Also: Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-45, Luke 23:50-54, John 19:38-42

The Entrance of Jesus’s Tomb is Sealed with a Stone

Mark 15:46-47

So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Matthew 27:65-66

‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

See Also: Matthew 27:60-66, Mark 15:46-47, Luke 23:55-56

How Do You Get Ready For His Return?

These years many things have happened, the pandemic, the war and other disasters become worse and worse. Many bible prophecies about God’s return have been fulfilled. Do you think it is the time for God to return to save us from the hard life?

It’s a great question and not an easy one for me to give a short answer to (sorry)… I have a few thoughts that I try to live by, I think we should always be ready for His return even though we don’t know when it will be or if He will return in our lifetimes.

Jesus said the day and hour are unknown in Matthew 24:36
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

And Jesus also warns us that a sign of His return would be similar to birth pains which increase in intensity nearer to the birth. Jesus said we should notice an increase in wars, famines, earthquakes and persecution nearer to the time of His return (Matthew 24:4-14). We are able to witness an increase in the like right now so we should be prepared. But I wonder how Christians have felt throughout history? During the first and second world wars for example.

I believe we should take heed of the fact that Christians have been persecuted for their faith since the time of Jesus Christ Himself. Consider all the mockery, pain and suffering He endured and then of His apostles who were martyred in terrible, inhumane ways for their Faith in Christ.

A message we receive over and over again in the New Testament is that we should be prepared and over everything I am convinced that this is the bottom line: Today could be my last – am I ready to meet Jesus?

We should be pursuing Christlikeness (1 John 3:2–3) in our daily lives. And we should be continually readying ourselves for suffering, Paul said that “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). 

Consider the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 25:1-13

The conclusion of the parable answers the question: How do you get ready? “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
So what does this mean? Both the wise and the foolish virgins were asleep, and there was no criticism. To watch, therefore, doesn’t mean getting up at night, looking out the window, checking the news or paying a lot of attention to end-time conspiracies.

The virgins were given an assignment: To have their lamps and their oil ready for when the bridegroom arrived and to light the way for the bridegroom. The virgins who did their job just the way the master wanted them to do it went in with the bridegroom to the marriage feast. These were the virgins who were morally, spiritually, and professionally awake. They did their job the way their master meant for them to do it.

God has given all of us work for while He is not with us – gifts, resources, abilities, money, opportunities, relationships, spiritual disciplines. All of these are areas where we should do our job to the best of our ability with faithfulness and diligence so that we can be ready for the day of His return. That glorious day when He will save us from this corrupted life and take us in with Him to the marriage feast.