HG164pt1, 165pt1, 166pt1 Mark 15:24-41
Welcome to our Good Friday Special Service.
1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? 2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. 5 They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” 9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. 11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. 13 They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; 15 So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall consider. 1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. 27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. 28 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 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?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 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. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 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!” 40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
After the trials on Thursday and Friday the sentence had been passed, not by Pilate the coward but by the stirred-up crowd. It is said: Himself he could not save.
He was then taken by soldiers and beaten around the head with a stick and spat at and led out to die. It is said: Himself He could not save.
He was on the cross nailed there naked with nails through hands and feet beaten within an inch of his life with whips with bone and glass in the strips. It is said: Himself He could not save.
From a human perspective it was a done deal. There was no let out clause from the moment Jesus was arrested in the garden. There was really nothing that Jesus could do. He was on his own since his disciples deserted him besides the one that had been with Him actually betraying Him. The disciples did all they could to disassociate themselves from Jesus. Once Pilate had passed the sentence of death nothing could stop the role of history playing out; Jesus was going to die and He could do nothing about it.
But what if this was not true. What if he could have saved Himself? I mean, if you could you would, wouldn’t you? When the chief priests and Sanhedrin were striking him and saying “prophesy!” do you suppose that Jesus did not know who was doing it? Do you suppose He could not simply have walked out of there as He had done so on other occasions as when He was taken to the top of a hill to be thrown off and just walked through the crowd? When the soldiers were beating him could He not simply have broken free? Or when they were lashing him with the whip could He not simply heal himself? Or when they offered Him a drugged drink at the cross that would have eased the pain why did He not drink it? Or when they said “come down from the cross” could He not have done so? For if you could you would, wouldn’t you?
The truth is not that ‘Himself He could not save’ it was that ‘Himself He WOULD not save’. Not ‘could not’ but ‘would not’.
That just doesn’t make sense does it? If he could save Himself why wouldn’t He save himself? At every point Jesus could have avoided the suffering that He went through. After all, this was suffering on a scale beyond our comprehension. Yes, he suffered physically to the point that He did not even look human but He suffered mentally and spiritually too. How do we make sense of it all?
He went through all that then for a reason. Not saving himself means that he was either suicidal and had a greater purpose. This was no death by cop suicide; He was not deranged so there must be a good reason, a very good reason; some sort of motivation; a purpose; a goal to not stop this monstrous travesty of justice from going through to the bitter end.
Are we not in the least curious to know why He would allow Himself to go through all this? Why today is called Good Friday when it seems it should be a day as dark as the darkness that came over the land at midday?
What the mockers, the soldiers, the religious and political leaders did not know was that they were actually fulfilling prophecy that said that someone would come and suffer. Not only that but that He would come to die. This surely is clear in David’s Psalm 22 and in Isaiah 53 we have been reading this week and heard parts of today, written over 700 years before Jesus came. And that by doing so He was also bringing about something that those who made it happen could also receive the benefits in some sort of twisted irony.
It is finished. Those immortal words cried out from the cross. And no sooner had he said these words he commended his spirit to God and died. What kept Him on the cross? What was it He had done, for Him to say it is finished?
It was whilst we were still sinners that Christ died from us, Paul declares.
That Friday was a Good Friday because something happened there on the cross that if we could completely understand and comprehend then it would blow our minds. Staying on the cross, not saving Himself, saved us instead. This is where it all is. There was an exchange; His lost his life to give life to others. There on the cross the darkness kept from view the terror of the time between 12pm and 3pm when Jesus took upon himself the sin of the whole world; past, present and future; He became sin. This really is a mystery. All sin was put on Jesus and Jesus became sin personified. In that way God the Father could judge sin in His most awesome and terrifying wrath – and Jesus bore the brunt of it.
Oh how we treat sin so lightly. How we do things wrong without barely a second thought. And how it offends God. Sin is serious. Just one mark is enough to make us deserving of all God’s anger. We don’t belong to ourselves. We have no rights before God. He created us and He expects us to treat him with respect and obedience. This obedience though is of benefit to us because God knows best. It’s like a computer programmer who creates a piece of software, who writes a manual on how it should be used and for us to ignore it and try and work it out ourselves, well, what happens is hit and miss but when we read the manual we get the full benefit of the software. God has given us His manual about how we should live but instead we are content to try and work it out on our own; this is called sin.
We are worthy of God’s utter and complete judgement. But this judgement was paid in full by Jesus on the cross. Jesus’ name means ‘God saves’. We deserve hell but Jesus took our place. Now there is no judgement, no condemnation, no anger directed at us and we, like Barabbas, have been set free. The curtain in the temple was torn in two the moment Jesus died symbolising that we all can now have access to God without fear of punishment.
When Jesus declared ‘it is finished’ Jesus had completed the work of salvation. This is why it is Good Friday. Jesus could have come down from the cross but He would not. Not could not, would not because He knew that people like you and me would come to the foot of the cross and worship Him and love Him for all that He had done.
So what do we do?
Is it a Good Friday for you? When we talk about the sin of the world being laid upon Jesus. It was your sin too that was laid upon Him. All your wrong. All your anger. All your bitterness. All your jealousy. All your lies. All your hate. All your stealing. All your inaction. All your pride. All your sin. You deserve to go to hell for your sins because you have not loved God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, because you have not loved your neighbour as yourself. But, you know what? Despite all of this Jesus loved you enough to take the punishment you deserve and suffer and die instead of you. And, of course, this is true of me too.
There was a day in 1986 that I committed my life of Jesus. Was there a day for you? Or is today that day? Is this going to be your Good Friday?
The rest of us can make this a Good Friday too by recommitting our lives to Him, putting aside the sin that is so offensive to God, and love our Saviour with renewed passion; with renewed joy.
As before I am going to place a prayer on the screen that whether this is the first time or the millionth time let us pray this together:
Father God in heaven. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus died for my sins taking my place, and I am now willing to turn from my sin. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my life. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. Thank you Jesus for your grace which has saved me from my sins. Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honour to you alone and not to myself. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. Amen.
Third Hymn (The power of the cross?)
We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer us the gift of eternal life.
Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognising what you freely given, what you have done for us.
Thank you Lord that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that because of your huge sacrifice we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your Power is everlasting.
Thank you that we can say with great hope, “It is finished…” For we know what’s still to come. And death has lost its sting. We praise you for you are making all things new.
In Jesus’ Name,
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). The Gospel according to Mark. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.