Surah 62 (The Congregation, Friday – Al-Jumu’ah) tells us that the day of prayer for Muslims is Friday. But Surah al-Jumu’ah first gives a challenge – which the prophet Isa PBUH accepted in his role as Masih. Al-Jumu’ah, just before decreeing the day of prayer to be Friday, declared:
Say: “O ye that stand on Judaism! If ye think that ye are friends to God, to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire for Death, if ye are truthful!”
But never will they express their desire (for Death), because of the (deeds) their hands have sent on before them! and God knows well those that do wrong! (Surah 62 al-Jumu’ah: 6-7)
These Ayat mean that if we are true friends of Allah then we will have no fear of death, but since they (and we) have doubts about how good our deeds are we avoid death at great cost. But on this Friday, Day 6 of his final week, as a Jew, Isa al Masih faced this exact test – and he did it by starting with prayer. As the Injil explains about the prophet:
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:37-39)
Before we continue the events of this Friday, we will review the events leading up to this Friday prayer. Our avowed enemy, Shaytan, had entered Judas on Day 5 to betray the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH. The next evening on Day 6 the prophet shared his last supper with his companions (also called his disciples). At that meal he explained through example and teaching how we should love one another and about God’s great love for us. Exactly how he did this is described here from the Injil. Then he prayed for all believers – which you can read here. The Injil describes what happened next after his Friday prayer:
The arrest in the Garden
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. (John 18: 1-13)
The prophet went to the garden just outside Jerusalem to pray. There Judas brought soldiers to arrest him. If we face arrest we might try to fight, run or hide. But the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH did not fight or run. He very clearly admitted that he was indeed the prophet that they were looking for. His clear confession (“I am he”) startled the soldiers and his companions escaped. The prophet submitted to arrest and was taken to the house of Annas for interrogation.
The First Interrogation
The Injil records how the prophet was interrogated there:
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (John 18: 19-24)
The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH was sent from the former high priest to the high priest of that year for a second interrogation.
The Second Interrogation
There he would be interrogated in front of all the leaders. The Injil recorded this further interrogation:
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 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.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him. (Mark 14: 53-65)
The Jewish leaders condemned the Prophet Isa al Masih to death. But since Jerusalem was ruled by Rome, an execution could only be approved by the Roman Governor. So they took the prophet to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. The Injil also records what happened at the same time to Judas Iscariot, the one who had betrayed him.
What happened to Judas the betrayer?
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (Matthew 27: 1-8)
Isa al Masih interrogated by the Roman Governor
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27: 11-26)
The Crucifixion, Death & Burial of the Prophet Isa al Masih
The Injil then records in great detail how the Prophet Isa al Masih was crucified. Here is the account:
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 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!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “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. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar,put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. (Matthew 27: 27-56)
‘Pierced’ in his side
The Gospel of John records a fascinating detail in the crucifixion. It states:
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 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. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19: 31-37)
John saw the Roman soldiers pierce the side of Isa al Masih with a spear. Out came blood and water separated, indicating that the prophet had died of heart failure.
The Injil records a final event on that day – the burial.
The Burial of Jesus
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:57-61)
Day 6 – Good Friday
Each day in the Jewish calendar began at sunset. So that day 6 of the week began with the Prophet sharing his last supper with his disciples. By the end of the day he had been arrested, put on trial many times, crucified, pierced with a spear, and buried. This day is often referred to as ‘Good Friday’. That raises the question: How can a day of betrayal, torture and death of a prophet ever be referred to as ‘good’? Why Good Friday and not ‘Bad Friday’?
This is a great question that we answer by continuing the Injil’s account over the next days. But a clue is found in the timeline if we notice this Friday was on the holy day of Nisan 14, the same Passover day the Jews sacrificed a lamb for their deliverance from death in Egypt 1500 years before.
Most accounts of men conclude at their death, but the Injil continues so we can understand why this day could ever be thought of as Good Friday. The next day was the Sabbath – Day 7.
But first let us return to Surah Al-Jumu’ah, continuing from the ayat we studied.
Say: “The Death from which ye flee will truly overtake you: then will ye be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that ye did!”
O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of God, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew! (Surah 62 al-Jumu’ah:8-9)
Isa al Masih, taking the challenge of Ayat 6 & 7, did not flee from death, but starting with prayer faced this great test, proving he was a ‘friend to God’. Is it not appropriate then, in memory of his courage, that Muslims were later commanded to set apart Friday as the day for prayer in the mosque? It is as if Allah does not want us to forget the service of the prophet!