Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday

Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday, is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Golgotha. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the three days from the evening of Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) to the evening of Easter Saturday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover. Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33.

An overview:
According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) (Matthew 26:14-16) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest.

Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).

Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66).

Some specifics:
The Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus is an event reported by all the Canonical Gospels of the Bible. (Mark 14:53–65, Matthew 26:57–68, Luke 22:63–71 and John 18:12-24).

These accounts report that after Jesus Christ and his followers celebrated Passover as their Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas Iscariot, and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was then put on trial by Jewish authorities to determine whether his guilt, in their eyes, justified handing him over to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate with their request that the Roman Empire put Jesus to death on popular demand from the people.

The trial most probably took place informally on Thursday night and then again formally on Friday morning.

The Canonical Gospels report that after the arrest of Jesus, Jesus was taken to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body. The precise location and nature of the trial varies between the canonical Gospels, particularly between the three Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. In the Synoptics' version, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin, with Matthew 26:57–68 adding that the Sanhedrin had assembled where Caiaphas the High Priest was located.

This reference, instead of stating a fixed location, may imply that the gathering occurred at the home of Caiaphas. The gathering would have occurred quite late at night, after Jesus' followers had completed their Passover "Last Supper" and they spent further time in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the era in which the narrative is set, this 'trial' was an ad hoc gathering (ad hoc is a Latin phrase which means "for this [purpose]"), rather than a fixed court, as in the later Council of Jamnia, and its gathering in Caiaphas' home is historically plausible, though irregular. Daniel J. Harrington argues that being located in a home makes it more likely that this was a small first preliminary hearing and not a full trial.

The High Priest Caiaphas was a Sadducee appointed by the Roman Governor Valerius Gratus, who was later replaced by Pontius Pilate.[10] Due to the Roman conquest and occupation of Judea in 63 BC, the Roman Empire controlled all officials of the province.

Members of the Sanhedrin and the High Priest and other chief priests were subject to the approval of and removal by Rome, and were selected for their expected loyalty to the Roman occupiers. For example, in John 11:48, the chief priests and Pharisees worry that "the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

In John 18:12-14, however, Jesus is first taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the current high priest at that time. Annas is believed to have been the former high priest, and it appears that Caiaphas sought Annas' confirmation of Caiaphas' actions.

According to John 18:19-24, when Annas questions Jesus about his teachings and followers, Jesus refuses to be co-operative and instead says that he taught nothing in secret, always teaching in public places, and so Annas should just ask the many witnesses what Jesus had taught.

John adds that a nearby official then struck Jesus for this lack of co-operation, though Jesus subsequently answers "If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?" (John 18:23). John states that faced with this lack of co-operation, Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas, though John does not mention at all what happens when Jesus meets Caiaphas, instead focusing on the denial by Simon Peter.

While it is true that according to Gospel accounts Jesus usually preached openly, he also instructs those who knew about his claimed Messiahship not to tell anyone who he was, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark. Some see this as emphasizing the presence of secret teachings, and teachings that were taught to only the disciples and not the crowds - see Mark 4:34 for an example.

According to the Gospels of Mark and of Matthew, the Sanhedrin wished to condemn Jesus to death, but they found the lack of evidence against him to be unhelpful. Matthew and Mark state that many false witnesses made statements to the Sanhedrin. According to Matthew and Mark the witnesses did not agree with each other, and hence since multiple witnesses are required by the Deuteronomic Code, the Sanhedrin was unable to condemn him by their inconsistent testimony.

Statements included the claim that Jesus had said he would destroy the man-made temple, and replace it with a non man-made one three days later. (Jesus did prophesy that the destruction of the temple would occur, but never claimed he would do it.) However, according to a traditional Christian interpetation, Jesus was referring to his own body as "the temple."

The charges brought against Jesus were primarily of blasphemy for claiming to be God, claiming to be the King of the Jews, and for allegedly violating various laws under the laws of Moses, which governed Jewish life. When the Jewish leaders' plan to kill Jesus first arose, they explained in John 10:33: '"For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."'

However, the Bible portrays the true motivation for the trial as being political, rather than religious. The rulers (who had been hand-picked themselves by the Romans) were afraid that the Roman Empire occupying their country would view Jesus' following among the people as yet another uprising, prompting a military attack by Rome to crush a rebellion by the Jewish people.

John 11: "47 What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

All the Synoptic Gospels state that Jesus was finally asked directly by the Sanhedrin if he was the Christ, Son of God. Jesus responded, as in Mark 14:60-62: "And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." (See also Second Coming)

The interpretation of Jesus' statements by the Sanhedrin and their reaction, having no language translation issues and observing him speak live, is offered by Christians as proof that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (and ending the Messianic Secret).

The Sanhedrin's response shows their understanding that Jesus was once more attributing to himself the role of Messiah, if not Godship, which enraged them. Mark 14:63-64: "Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?' And they all condemned him to be deserving of death."

Due to the nature of the Greek language, though, "Christ" could be translated simply as an anointed, a son of God, or as the Christ, the Son of God, with quite different implications. The former of these simply requires that Jesus had been anointed, and that Jesus was a religious leader (a son of God was a common Jewish term simply referring to any person who was particularly religious); since Jesus had been anointed at Bethany, when a woman poured expensive perfumed oils over him, an anointed, a son of God is simply a very naturalistic and fairly worldly statement for Jesus to confirm.

This does, however, seem irrelevant to the case at hand and so the translation the Christ, the Son of God has consequently remained the preferred, more logical choice, seeing as how it is on par with the blasphemy charge driven against him by the members of the Sanhedrin.

The Synoptics also state that Jesus added that the Son of Man would be seen sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, and coming on the clouds of heaven. Many Christians interpret this as a reference to a future second coming of Jesus as it closely parallels Daniel's prophecy about the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13, though in ancient times the gnostics read it as referring to enlightenment reaching each individual - that each individual human (son of man) would spiritually escape the earthly realm and rejoin the world of the monad (mighty one).

The Synoptics state that these responses were sufficient for the Sanhedrin to be able to legally argue that Jesus was guilty, with Matthew and Mark adding that the high priest rent his clothes and said that Jesus' responses were blasphemy. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus is then beaten blindfolded, and challenged him to prophesy who it is that hits him. In Luke this blindfolding, and challenge to prophesy, also occurs, but it occurs before the question is posed to Jesus by the Sanhedrin (although the question is stated in the morning trial in Luke). The beating is attributed to the guards in Mark and to "those holding Jesus in custody" (ESV) in Luke.

Both the Synoptics and the Gospel of John state that early in the morning the Sanhedrin reached their conclusion, and bound Jesus, and took him to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.

In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own Law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31).

Pilate questions Jesus, and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16).

It was a custom during the feast of Passover for the Romans to release one prisoner as requested by the Jews. Pilate asks the crowd who they would like to be released. Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, "Crucify him" (Mark 15:6-14).

Pilate's wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day; she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (Matthew 27:19).

Pilate has Jesus flogged, then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death "because he claimed to be God's son." This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came (John 19:1-9).

Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent, washing his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation.

Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27:24-26). The sentence written is "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or "Golgotha" in Hebrew and in Latin "Calvary". There he is crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22).

Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3pm, there is darkness over the whole land.[7] With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, "Truly this was God's Son!" (Matthew 27:45-54)

Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (Mark 15:44). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19:34), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead (Mark 15:45).

Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus, wraps it in a clean linen shroud, and places it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27:59-60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion.

Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus (John 3:1) also came bringing 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and places them in the linen with the body of Jesus, according to Jewish burial customs (John 19:39-40).

They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27:60). Then they returned home and rested, because at sunset began Shabbat (Luke 23:54-56).

On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday , Jesus rose from the dead.

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