Good Friday, 2020
I am so glad you joined us tonight. This is the night that we set aside annually to remember what Jesus did for us, as he suffered and died.
For tonight’s service, I will be reading the account of Christ’s arrest, trial and crucifixion from Luke’s gospel, .
Before we begin, let’s pray, and ask God to open our hearts and minds to understand what Jesus did for us when He died in our place.
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Jesus knew that when trials come, that is the time that people are tempted to abandon the Lord, to abandon their faith. Satan uses times of trial to cast doubts.
Doubts that God exists.
Doubts that God is good.
Doubts that God cares.
Jesus knew the pain that comes in this world, and he told his disciples to pray, so that they would not fall into temptation.
A good instruction for us today.
Then, Jesus himself prayed.
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus was fully God. He was also fully man. He knew what suffering was about to come on him. He, too, knew that as a man, temptation would come. When the pain came, he would be tempted to give up. He would be tempted to get away, to avoid the suffering—to do everything that his human body wanted to do to avoid pain and death. So, he prayed.
He did not just tell his disciples and us what to do when trials come. He showed us, as a man who knew full well what mental and physical suffering is.
And what was his prayer? Lord, take this away! Yet, not my will, but yours be done.
Jesus did not want to suffer through the trial, any more than you or I would want to.
However, he knew God has a plan to use his suffering for the good of the world. Jesus surrendered his will to the Lord in prayer.
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Jesus closest friends abandoned him when he needed them most. They did not support him as he was entering this trial.
Have you ever felt that? Have you ever felt abandoned?
Or, have you ever felt the weight of having left someone else down?
Jesus knows all about this, as he experienced it.
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Betrayal. Nothing hurts worse than the betrayal of a loved one, a dear friend.
Jesus knew that pain of betrayal.
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Jesus was being arrested under false pretenses. He was being ambushed.
Yet, through it all, he cared for the ones coming to arrest him! He healed the man’s ear!
If I were God, I don’t know that I would try to help the person who wants to hurt me.
But this is Jesus. He cares for, and helps, even those who want to hurt him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Jesus had known all along that Judas was going to betray him.
But now, Peter, one of the three that were truly the closest friends to Jesus denied even knowing Jesus. He would not stand up for Jesus.
Jesus looked right at Peter, the pain of Peter’s disowning him on his face. Jesus knew the pain of being hurt by friends who were more interested in looking good themselves, than being interested in being a true friend. Jesus suffered this emotional abuse at the hands of his closest friend.
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.
Jesus suffered ridicule. He could have told them who hit him. He, the one who gave them mouths to speak, voices to be heard, who made the mute to speak could have easily taken away their voices. He could have… but he did not. He who made the shriveled hand whole, could have made their hands shrivel up, and become useless so they would strike him no more. But he did not. Instead, Jesus silently suffered the shaming they were giving him. He silently suffered the physical blows, the pain in his body.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.”
Jesus had given every evidence that He was the Son of God. He had told them through his miracles and through his words. Now, when they ask him, he tells them plainly.
He knew they did not believe him. He knew that this would be the reason that they would put him to death. But he did not deny. He did not refuse to answer.
He told them plainly. Once again hoping that they might repent.
Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.” Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies. Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
Jesus endured false accusations. He endured a mock trial, and beatings. When tried, he was found to be truly innocent.
But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Jesus was still thinking of others. He was concerned for the people of Jerusalem, and all that would happen to them because they refused to believe in their Lord.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
This is undoubtedly one of my favorite sayings of Jesus.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Today you will be with me in Paradise. Hope in the face of death.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Why did Jesus suffer and die? Why did Jesus suffer through the mental anguish of this trial? Why did he suffer betrayal? Why did he suffer abandonment from his friends? Why did he put up with shame, ridicule? Why did he allow them to beat him, whip him, abuse him? Why did he allow those nails to pierce his wrists and ankles? Why did he stay on that cross, gasping for breath?
Because it should have been you and me.
God is our Creator. Our Maker.
He designed us to be His special creation, over the rest of all his Creation.
He made us in his image: to be holy and righteous like he is.
He gave us minds to think, to reason, to communicate with him.
He gave us senses and emotions to experience the blessings of his perfect creation.
He gave us a will that we would choose to love him, because he loves us so!
However, we are all guilty of rebelling against him. All mankind has chosen to not live in his image, in holiness and righteousness. We want to do things our way. We want what we want, regardless of what He says is right and wrong.
We are not like Him. We think of ourselves before others. We are prideful. We choose to love ourselves more than we love him.
We all fail to live up to his standard of holiness and righteousness.
What do you do with something you make that does not work out? Get rid of it!
God warned us that if we do not acknowledge him as our God and Creator, if we disobey him, we would suffer death, being separated from him for all eternity.
However, God did not just discard us. He did not abandon us to live in this world that we broke in our rebellion against him, with all of the pain and suffering.
Rather, God still loved us, and wanted to make a way for us to be restored to him. To be restored to holiness and righteousness. To not have to live under the threat of death, but to live in the hope of eternal life with him!
Our rebellion had a price. Separation from Him. That price for our rebellion needed to be paid. So, God demontrated his love by sending Jesus into this world as a man.
Jesus came, and lived a holy, righteous life as God intended for us all. Jesus did it. He did not have the price of rebellion against God to pay for himself.
Instead, Jesus paid the penalty for our rebellion by suffering and dying on the cross. He suffered sin against himself, and at the same time, paid for that sin, so that whoever would receive it, would be saved, and forgiven!
That is why Jesus said, forgive them!
Jesus suffered died on the cross, why? Because it should have been you and me, and he took our place.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 cor 15.20
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
It should have been you, it should have been me.
We deserved to suffer and die for our disobedience to our Creator.
However, our Creator did not abandon us. He loved us, and sent Jesus to suffer and die for what we have done, so you could be forgiven and reconciled to your Creator.
Have you been forgiven? Have you been reconciled so you can live in a new relationship with your Creator, as your Heavenly Father?
If so, please take a moment to thank Him for going to such great lengths to get you back!
If not, please consider accepting his gift of salvation today.
If you do not accept what Jesus has done for you, you will have to be separated from God. You will continue to live under the cloud of death.
Don’t stay there. Accept what Jesus did for you, by dying to pay the penalty for you.
Believe Jesus is the God who loves you, and died for you today.
Do you believe?
That is great news for all of you who believe.
Let’s take a moment to thank Jesus together.
We are going to pray. Prayer is the fancy word for talking with God.
Let’s talk to God, and thank him for sending Jesus. Let’s thank Jesus for suffering for us, so we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.