It is not Good Friday–it is GREAT FRIDAY!!!!

Although, I must admit, I did not feel “great” for a significant part of the day…

I intended to write my happy Good Friday post earlier, but my kids had other plans.

My daughter, who is getting more teeth, was pretty much like this fella all day:

As if that wasn’t enough, my son decided he needed my attention every three seconds…

Luckily, I got a very good idea from a movie I like called Collateral that stars Jamie Foxx as an unlucky cab driver who picks up Tom Cruise, a psychopathic hit man who strong-arms Jamie Foxx into driving him around all night as he pursues his targets. In the beginning, Jamie Foxx shows us what he does to “relax”: He takes a mental vacation using a picture he has posted on his sun visor. Well, I plan to do just that. Would you like to come with me?

It works even better if you hum “Orinoco Flow” by Enya to yourself as you imagine yourself (and your significant other, if you like) in one of these destinations. Now, didn’t that bring your blood pressure down? I know it worked for me!

Now that I am calm, and they are asleep, I can get to something even better than those beautiful relaxing pictures… The beautiful, relaxing reminder of why today is Great Friday. Although I got annoyed several times today, I tried to remind myself that each time I thought to swear at the person  in the huge white van who decided to get into my lane without caring that there was no space, causing me to swerve, that each swear word and bad thought about throttling the driver was another stripe across Jesus’ back. I don’t want to do that! I decided to file that into my memory banks–that Jesus died for my stripes–and think of a stripe going across His back each time I do something I know I have no business doing.

Jesus had spent three years preparing His disciples. The word “disciple” simply means student or pupil. In a sense then, and as is recorded in the Word, Jesus had many disciples–in Luke 10, we are told that He sent out 72–but the 12 specific disciples were ones who spent the most intimate time with Him. We are all His disciples. The word “apostle” means to go out or away–as in the disciples were sent out to teach and preach. (Apo=away). Why did Jesus only choose 12 “main” disciples? The popular belief, the one I hold to, is that because 12 also represented the number of tribes of Israel.

The miracles that are recorded in the Gospels are many–He healed the sick, removed the issue of blood from the woman who touched the hem of His garment, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, fed the multitudes, walked on water…yet this did not satisfy everyone, especially the Sadducees, a wealthy group of aristocrats that comprised the majority of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council) of the area and were more concerned with adhering to the books of Moses than accepting Jesus, and the Pharisees, a group of what would probably be considered middle-class men who were more concerned with rituals and works than accepting Jesus. So that tells me everything I need to know about the spiritual condition of the world today–if those people could see all of that and STILL not believe, the hardness of heart among people today should be of no surprise.

What would you do if you knew you were about to die? And not only that, what would you do if you knew you were about to die a horrible death? Crucifixion was not only a slow, painful, and  torturous way to go, but also meant for extreme humiliation. It was a punishment saved for the most lowly of offenders. The story is an amazing one, to think of what He went through–for little old me and you, just so I can still talk to God and ask for forgiveness after muttering a swear on the expressway (shame on me).

I am still studying the last week of Jesus’ life in an attempt to understand the events and put them in order. I have found several helpful timelines, but despite my confusion as to the sequence of events, His last days are still awesome in that Jesus knew He was going to die, and how–and instead of spending His last days doing what some of us might do if we knew when we would expire, He prayed, spent time with His disciples, and even more notably–did not try to flee or stop His crucifixion from happening. Why? Because He loves us.

Per the book of Matthew, Jesus knew exactly when His time was near, and even how He would die: “Passover is two days away, and the Son of Man will be crucified” (paraphrased, Matthew 26:2). During a visit with Simon the Leper, a woman named Mary (according to John 12:3) rumored to be Mary Magdalene (another fascinating person to me, more on her later) anointed Jesus with a very expensive perfume.

Well, let me interject a LITTLE something about Mary Magdalene and this anointing experience. I must do more research on this… But, in one of my classes I learned that prostitutes would wear vials of expensive perfume around their necks and release the scent to potential johns perhaps to let them know that they were, in fact, a prostitute and “open for business”. Of course, the prevailing school of thought is that Mary Magdalene was indeed a prostitute–although that is not said anywhere in the Bible. I understand that would make for a juicier read, but it’s not there, so I don’t buy it. (For the record, I firmly reject any idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, or had children with her, etc. I don’t even understand where that comes from). Some say that Jesus was anointed twice by two different women. I am happy to admit I do not have a clear handle on that just yet, but best you believe I am going to do my research. But just to sum up this little rant–There may have been two different times when Jesus was anointed, with this particular time serving as preparation for His upcoming burial; there is no conclusive evidence that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute; and… I need to read up more on the situation:-)

Here comes Mr. Judas Iscariot, another of my favorite Biblical figures (not in a good way, of course). He is the main one who protests this “waste”, yet he tries to hide it behind charitable motives: “The money from that perfume could have been used to help the poor!” He did not really care about the poor; Judas was a thief, the keeper of the money from which he stole, and would have liked to have pocketed that money for himself (John 12:4-7). All throughout the Gospels, we see shades of doubt within Judas. Yes, the other disciples often fall short, but at least they had a ledge from which to fall–Judas’ faith remained flat. This can be proven by the fact that Judas NEVER refers to Jesus as “Lord” or “Master”–instead Judas calls Jesus “Rabbi” (teacher).

The story of the betrayal is fascinating. In Matthew 26, it is recorded that Judas approached one of the chief priests (probably one of the Sadducees) and initiated the deal: “How much will you give me if I set Him up?” (Paraphrased, of course). He receives thirty pieces of silver (the fact that they had to set Jesus up is proof positive that He had committed no punishable offense, which adds to the argument that His crucifixion occurred illegally). Mark gives the same account, that Judas approached the chief priests (Mark 14:10). Luke says the same, although he inserts that “Satan entered Judas”…(Luke 22:3).  (Another reason I believe Judas never believed. I know that Satan can tempt believers, but I do not think Satan can enter believers). John also attributes Judas’ betrayal to the devil (John 13:2).

Jesus knows He will be betrayed and knows His betrayer, yet He does not directly call him out. Instead, after washing His disciples’ feet (the epitome of a servant. Jesus was showing them that despite His power, He had come to serve and was not too good to do anything required), Jesus reveals His betrayer during the following meal (John 13:21-28):

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.”

Here is where my confusion about Judas multiplies. For one, why did Judas follow Jesus in the first place? Was he like people of today, quick to jump on any bandwagon or cause that is popular at the time or that may offer them a modicum of fame or fortune? Was he one of those people that followed the crowd? Or did his greed compel to follow? I am tempted to believe it is a combination of those things, but mainly the opportunity to have access to money. Everything Judas does is motivated by money. Even after being with Jesus for three years–albeit never establishing a tight relationship with Him, hence his name always being listed last (and because of his betrayal)–and seeing everything Jesus was capable of, he still sold him out for some silver!

There are some people who are sympathetic when it comes to Judas, feeling he was used as a pawn so that God’s plan would see its completion. I can understand their argument. The betrayal did in fact fulfill Psalm 41:9 and Zechariah 11:12, which mentions that Jesus would break bread with His betrayer and thirty pieces of silver would be involved. So since it had been decreed, it had to be done. Judas just so happened to the the one. However, one should only be so sympathetic. Again, Judas had three years and had seen innumerable miracles. Not to mention the fact that he had been in close contact with Christ, the epitome of love. Shouldn’t he have been touched by Jesus’ spirit alone????

My beliefs are that Judas was deliberately picked to be a part of the twelve. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him from the start, but gave Judas a test that he could have passed–he put the thief in charge of the money! Of course Jesus knew Judas was a thief. Again, this was a test Judas could have passed. But he did not have the right heart. I believe that Judas was angry when Jesus rebuked him for his remarks about the perfume, and that this may have contributed to his betrayal. And lastly, I believe that with Jesus talking about His impending death, Judas thought the gravy train ride was coming to an end, and perhaps was seeking approval from those wealthy chief priests with the hopes of maybe procuring a position among them. Who knows. Either way it goes, Judas was remorseful after Jesus’ death, but not remorseful enough to ask for forgiveness from God–instead he attempted to return the money and hanged himself.

Judas eats the bread–representative of the body of Jesus–but leaves to go do his dirty work before he drinks the wine, the blood of Jesus. This is no coincidence, as I learned in one of my classes. I had never previously given that any thought! It is the blood that cleanses us. Judas did not receive this. This is why I love the Bible. You can never learn enough from it!

Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him, and, of course, it comes true later on. He spends some time comforting His remaining disciples, and goes to Gethsemane to pray. The time comes when Judas appears, and greets Jesus with a kiss, a signal to identify Jesus to the soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees who were seeking Him. (This is when Peter draws his sword and chops off one of the priests’ ears). Jesus is arrested, and is taken from court to court all night as the crowd tries to find someone–anyone–who will find Him guilty of–anything. Pontius Pilate, a crowd-pleaser, even admits he sees no fault in Jesus but allows His crucifixion anyway. I guess he liked his position enough to send an innocent man to die.

Can’t you see the world of today reflected in these Scriptures? How many of our elected officials, or even powerfully wealthy citizens, would literally sell their soul to keep their positions of prestige and their wealth? I often wonder how many of our elected officials in particular claim to be Christian, yet vote for or sponsor legislation that goes directly against their core beliefs. And how many people do we know who are like Judas, who claim to follow Jesus, but only do so for the power, prestige, or wealth that can come of it (I am thinking of pastors who have not been called but yet identified a potential money-making gimmick, for example).

These people are doing themselves a great disservice. I would LOVE more money, absolutely. I’d be lying if I said I would rather just stare at those pictures above than actually visit those destinations. But I also know at the end of my life, the house I am living in will be sold to another person. The car I am driving will be sold to another person. Whatever money I have in the bank will go to someone else. And at the end of times, all that is not of God will be burnt up in flames.

With that being said, my love is for my Lord and Savior FIRST. How can it not be so? Who gave me two fantabulous parents and siblings, and a huge family with one hundred cousins to share my life with? Who stirred up the perfect husband for me and allowed me to birth two beautiful children? My love is for people, not things. I like having things, yes… but I prefer having people. I may not be rich in things, but I am rich in people, and my life is much more rewarding from that fact alone. As long as you have people and treat them right…there is a good chance you’ll always have access to “things”…because if people love you, they will help you out and take care of you.

I did not intend on ending here, but my daughter is awake GOOD NIGHT!

This page below is an excellent read to prepare your hearts and minds for Easter. Kudos to the author!

http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=3&contentID=3129&commInfo=8&topic=Crucifixion

A timeline for the last week of Jesus’ life:

http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/historical-jesus/jesus-final_week.php

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