Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

I am so honored that I get to share with you what today means for you and I.  This is the day that we remember the death of our Savior Jesus Christ on the Hill of Calvary. 

Yesterday was the day that is known as Maundy Thursday, which is the day that Christ had the Passover dinner with his disciples (also known as the last supper).  I want to begin with scripture from the book of Matthew the night before Jesus' death to give you an insight into what he was feeling leading up to that day.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 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.”

You can see that Jesus knew what was coming for him.  He knew that his purpose on this earth was to ultimately be crucified on the cross to atone (pay) for the sins of all of humanity.  He knew that he would suffer humiliation and incredible pain through torture.  In his earthly body he feared this pain and felt incredibly overwhelmed by what was about to take place.  He had surrounded himself with his closest of friends and asked them not to leave him or fall asleep in his time of vulnerability.  He even asked the Lord his Father to take this fate from him, to spare him from what he knew was coming but ultimately he said to his Father, "not what I want but what your will is for me."  This is so striking to me because I can't even begin to imagine the stress and terror of knowing that I am about to die a painful death and ultimately feel the weight of the sins of all of humanity on my shoulders.

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Two more times he asked his Father to spare him from what was about to come.  Then came the betrayal from one of his own friends...

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”[d]Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? 55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

He then went before the high priest before all of the elders were gathered.  Everyone was looking for false evidence against him so that they could put him to death but no one could find any.  Then one man accused him of saying something lofty...

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[e] 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

Then they began to mock him...

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Following this, he was betrayed by his good friend Peter...

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Judas then realizes the weight of his betrayal against Jesus and admits that he was wrong but no one cares.  He ends up hanging himself...

27 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.”

Jesus then stood before Pilate the governor who asked him if he was indeed Jesus King of the Jews but he refused to answer.  Pilate would pardon one prisoner as was the tradition.  His wife even told him “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." The crowd was rowdy and continued to push for the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah.  

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!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

They mocked and humiliated him further...

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.

They forced him to carry his wooden cross to the top of the hill...

 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 Messiah breathes his last breaths...

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,[h] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[i] 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 split52 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[j] 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!”

Jesus was then buried in a tomb and a large heavy stone was rolled in front.

This is what we know as good Friday.  Why do we call this painful, dark day "good"??  Because we know that it took the blood of Jesus to pay for each and every one of our lives so that we could be saved the misery of spending eternity separated from the Lord because of our sin.  When the curtain of the temple tore in two, we were no longer separated from a personal relationship with God the Father.  Before Christ's death, only the high priest was allowed to approach God for the atonement of the people's sins, and he had to go through a process of cleansing and bring a blood offering.  He was the middle man between common people like us and the King of Kings.  The moment Christ died, the barrier was removed. We are now free to speak with and have our own personal relationship with the Lord or Father!
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Psalm 30:12 
That my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise you forever!

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