Good Friday, 2012

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Good Friday 2012, “Death of the King”

Jesus had already had a busy & tragic day.  The previous night, He had been betrayed by one of His own disciples.  Someone He had called by name to follow Him had turned aside to darkness & fulfilled the awful prophecies by betraying his King to the Jewish authorities to be killed.  Throughout the night, Jesus had endured a kangaroo court, was mocked and beaten by the Jews, and even denied by one of His closest friends.  Finally the Jewish council of elders (the Sanhedrin) led Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate in order that Pilate would find him guilty of sedition & treason, and be ordered executed.  Pilate initially refused, believing this was a matter for the Jews to handle, and had Jesus given over to Herod, who in turn denied responsibility for the true King of the Jews.  Finally, Jesus is returned to Pilate, who declares Jesus innocent & offers to return Him to the people.  The people, left in the darkness (like all of us in our sin) chose to receive a murderer rather than their Savior, and they cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion…a most horrendous death reserved for dire criminal & traitors to the state.  Eventually, Pilate gives in to the mob’s wishes & he delivered the innocent Son of God to be crucified.

Seemingly everything had gone wrong that day.  To the disciples watching, things could not have been worse.  No scenario could be imagined more dire and desperate.  Yet here it was: the Lord God, the Messiah King sent to offer life to the world was sentenced to die.

What did our King endure that day?  Much suffering & mocking & pain & trial.  He did it for you & He did it for me.  On Good Friday we remember the crucifixion of our Savior – we remember the death of our King.  Let the Bible speak to you tonight as we re-read the history of what took place that awful (yet glorious) day.

Luke 23:26–56 (NKJV)
26 Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.

  1. Partaking with the King.  Someone shared his suffering.  We don’t know much about Simon, other than his home town of Cyrene, and that he was the father of Alexander & Rufus (Mk 15:21), likely two well-known members of the early church.  We’re not told of his thoughts or his reaction to the events around him, or even if he knew who Jesus had claimed to be.  All we know is that he was compelled to enter into the story and assist Jesus on His way to His execution.
  2. What we do know is that Jesus calls all of His disciples to pick up their crosses and follow Him.  It isn’t a call to mere discomfort; it’s a call to follow Jesus to the point of death – vividly demonstrated through the actions of Simon.  Jesus was going to the place where He would be killed, and Simon was carrying the instrument of the Lord’s death.  It’s that same road that all of us must travel.  When we follow Christ, we don’t merely add “Christian” to the things we do; it becomes the very foundation of who we are.  In matters of life & death, nothing else matters – it’s no different when it comes to the cross of Jesus.

27 And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ 31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

  1. Weeping for the King.  The women of Jerusalem wept without understanding.  They saw the immediate tragedy, whereas Jesus was looking at their future destruction.  The Bible describes the days of the Great Tribulation in precisely the same terms as Jesus, as people understand that the day of God’s wrath will have come, and they look to the mountains & rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Almighty (Rev 6:16).  Jesus knew the awfulness which awaited those who remained unrepentant & outside of the grace of God, and that was the true reason to weep.
  2. Understand that the reason we can sit here tonight and worship God is because His holy wrath fell upon Jesus & not upon us.  Our sin condemned us to death – our rebellion earned the righteous anger of God, and every single man, woman, and child deserves to have the unfiltered wrath of God poured out upon us.  Yet it went upon Jesus instead.  Because Jesus went to the cross, we do not have to weep for ourselves.  We who were hopeless have been given hope, because Jesus died for you & me.

32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.

  1. Criminalizing the King.  The Christ was treated as a common criminal.  How humiliating!  How degrading!  That the Son of God would be tossed aside as someone who utterly deserved to die.  Jesus least deserved to die – He had done nothing wrong & committed no sin…and yet He was treated as every single one of us deserve to be treated.  Think upon that for a moment.  WE were the criminals; Jesus is the innocent one.  WE deserved the cross, just like the two thieves on either side of Jesus.  Jesus most certainly did not deserve it.  Jesus (as the Son of God) deserves to be treated with worship, fear, reverence, and praise.  Jesus deserves to have angels surrounding His throne, forever singing of His holiness.  Jesus deserves to have every knee in all creation bowing & confessing that He is Lord.  THAT’s what He deserves.  Yet on that day, that is precisely what Jesus did not receive.  The Glorious Beautiful One was treated as a street thug & common criminal – the outcast of society. 

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

  1. Grace from the King.  In the midst of His humiliation, Jesus called out for forgiveness & grace.  Amazing!  What love!  What compassion!  Who among us, when at the moment of having massive spikes hammered into our flesh would not cry out in anguish and anger?  Who among us would not wish for God to vanquish our enemies and bring vengeance upon them for their crime?  Especially when considering Jesus.  He was no less fully God while hanging upon the cross then He was fully God moments before the cross, or after the resurrection.  Jesus had all right and authority to call legions of angels to His aid, and strike down the ones who had injured Him & caused His suffering.  Yet in His meekness, love, and submission unto God, Jesus simply asked for forgiveness for those who had wronged Him. 
  2. They didn’t know what they were doing – they didn’t realize they were acting like madmen.  Only a crazy person would dare insult and injure someone who carried a loaded gun pointing at them – surely the most insane act possible would be an attempt to kill the Son of God.  At the merest thought, God could send any one of us into an eternity of torment…surely it would be foolish to attempt to hurt Him.  They had been told who Jesus was – they had been given proof who Jesus was – but at the end, they didn’t even have a clue.  They didn’t truly understand what they were doing, and Jesus asked the Father for their forgiveness.
  3. Praise God for the intercession we receive in Christ Jesus!  Every time we sin – every time we crawl back into the slime of what we used to do, we engage in the same actions as the Jews that day.  We do the very things that caused Jesus to have been nailed to that cross.  And yet, Jesus remains our forgiving Mediator.  No doubt, He still prays, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”

  1. Mocking the King.  Instead of worshiping their King, they mocked Him & blasphemed Him.  They had no idea what they were asking.  Surely Jesus could have saved Himself at any time.  But if He had done so, we would have had no way to save ourselves.  The moment Jesus would have pulled Himself off of that cross would have been the very moment that every single human being would have been forever & unalterably consigned to Hell.  This is not Someone to mock; this is Someone to worship!

38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

  1. Testifying to the King.  Pilate surely had no idea of what he was doing when he commanded the sign to be made.  Yet God in His providence, ensured that the testimony of Jesus was made plain even at the hour of His death.  The identity of the King of the Jews was testified to the scholarly world (the Greeks), the political world (the Romans), and the religious world (the Jews).  There was no doubt of who was hanging upon the cross for mankind: the King of the Jews – the Messiah – the prophesied Savior-King given by God to all the world.

39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  1. Faith in the King.  As one of the criminals continued in the mockery from the mob (which was rather ironic considering he was hanging on a cross right next to Jesus!), the other one of the criminals came to faith.  We have no idea what this man did in order to deserve his execution, but we know he certainly deserved it.  The man admitted as much – it was his “due reward.”  Yet he knew that Jesus’ reward ought to have been much different.  Jesus’ innocence (and that fact alone) seem to have been enough to bring him to saving faith.  The One of whom was written was the “King of the Jews” truly was exactly that, and this criminal begs mercy of the true King to show mercy to him in the coming kingdom.
  2. The glorious response from Jesus was one of grace!  No maybes/ifs/buts from Jesus – no “That’s good, but you’ll need to spend a few decades in purgatory first,” – just the simple declaration that on that very day, the (former) thief would join Jesus in Paradise.  All of the man’s sin would be completely done away with – all of the pain would be totally forgotten – everything would be wiped out, with the exception of eternal fellowship with the Son of God.  What a promise!
    1. Keep in mind that every word uttered from the cross would have been painful agony as the crucified person had to push themselves up onto the nail in his feet in order to gain enough breath to speak.  Out of all of the things that Jesus could have said, or refrained from saying, one of the things He made sure to say was a message of the assurance of salvation to someone in need to hear it.  Amazing!

44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!”

  1. Acknowledging the King.  Whether it was creation or the centurion, the entire scene changed at the moment of Jesus’ death.  For three hours there was a supernatural darkness & suddenly a covering of the sun, an earthquake (Matt 27), and the temple veil was ripped.  Creation certainly took note of the death of its Creator.  Jesus wasn’t merely present during the acts of creation, all of the universe formed by the hand of Christ Jesus – it was created through Him, and it acknowledged the King.
  2. So too, the centurion.  What function this soldier had that day we don’t know.  Centurions were commanders over 100 men, so it’s likely he was in charge of the entire crucifixion event, from having Jesus nailed to the cross to certifying His death.  Jesus’ death convinced him this was no mere criminal, but truly was a righteous man – even the Son of God Himself.  The cross brought a conversion of at least two men that day: the condemned thief & the respected centurion.  Both were in dire need of salvation for exactly the same reason, and the same price was paid for each: the death of Jesus.

48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. 49 But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

  1. Mourning the King.  Whether the crowd was sincere or not cannot be said.  It’s doubtful that the same crowd that called out for Jesus’ death could have truly mourned Him when it took place.  Whoever these people were, they made a public spectacle of themselves when Jesus died. 
  2. Yet there’s an interesting contrast with the women who had actually known Jesus, followed Jesus, and had faith in Him.  They had stayed at a distance, watching.  Certainly they mourned & wept among themselves, but they didn’t make a scene.  True & sincere faith doesn’t have to call attention to itself; the attention ought to be upon Christ alone.

50 Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

  1. Identification with the King.  What had been a secret faith before became a public faith when Jesus died.  Someone needed to be responsible for the body, and Joseph of Arimathea took it upon himself.  To have been identified with Jesus was to put a wedge between himself & the ruling council of Jerusalem & even risk being cast out of the synagogue.  After Jesus died, Joseph decided the risk was worth it, and publically showed himself to be a disciple.
  2. Every Christian eventually makes a public identification with Christ.  That’s exactly what baptism is, as we’re identified with His death & resurrection.  Not every Christian counts the cost & decides that the identification is worth it.  How about you?

53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. 55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

  1. Serving the King.  The ladies served Jesus till the end & prepared His body as they would have prepared any other.  What they didn’t realize was what was going to happen on the 3rd day.  We do, and we rejoice!  Yet before we can rejoice in the empty tomb, we remember that the tomb wasn’t always empty.  For a while, it was occupied with the dead body of our Lord Jesus.  That was the price that was paid for sin.  May we take a few moments this night & silently remember that price for the sins you & I have personally committed.
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