When I first read Mark’s account of Good Friday (Mark 15), I was left feeling that Jesus, in his silence, was both powerless and a victim. But a careful examination of the people involved says otherwise.
Barabbas wanted to make God’s kingdom come through violence (v.7). Barabbas means ‘son of the father’. Ironically, the ‘son of the father’ had his life exchanged for that of the Son of the Father. On the cross Jesus achieves, by his death, what Barabbas failed to achieve his whole life – the restoration of Israel and the kingdom coming!
The chief priests saw the kingdom coming in Jesus and tried to stop it by manipulating its citizens (v.10-11). They agitated for Jesus’ crucifixion out of jealousy; Jesus underwent it for love. Ironically, in planning Jesus’ death, the chief priests carried out the plans of God. In trying to stop the Messiah, they actually enabled him!
The crowd, raising their voices as was their democratic right, demonstrated their power by killing their king (v.12-14). Yet, the same voices that condemned Jesus vindicated him also. When Pilate asked “What crime has he done?” the crowd’s refusal to answer declared Jesus innocent with deafening silence. In wanting him dead, they declared him undeserving of death!
Pilate wanted to hold onto his kingdom through people-pleasing and truth-killing (v.15). Ironically, when Pilate thought he was judging Jesus, he was actually judging the people! The people condemned themselves with their response to his question “What do you want me to do with this man you say is the king of the Jews?”
Good Friday is an ironic name for an ironic day.