The sermon from some selective verses of the Gospels, preached on Good Friday morning, 19 April 2019.
Bible Readings: (OT) Isaiah 53:4-6 / (NT) Mt. 26:1-5, 14-16; Mk. 14:32-42, 43-50, 53-64; Lk. 23:32-54
I. Jesus, the God-Man, in preparation
II. Jesus, the God-Man, in prayer
III. Jesus, the God-Man, in pain
IV. Jesus, the God-Man, on the cross
We’ve come and gathered together on this Good Friday morning to worship God in Jesus. We call this day ‘Good Friday’ because today is the day we commemorate the work Jesus did for us all. For the good and blessing granted to us through Him, our Saviour, we give our heartfelt thanks to God.
As we remember that day of Jesus’ crucifixion and the work He accomplished, the prophecy spoken of Him by Isaiah in the OT echoes in our ears and hearts. This is what was spoken beforehand about the Saviour Jesus, especially about His suffering and death for the redemption of sinners like us. This reading is from Isa. 53:4-6;
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 crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with 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.
This morning, we’ll remember the Lord Jesus’ walk to the cross, especially on the last couple of days, as delivered to us through the Gospels. The worship format will be, as you see on the printed order of worship, that we sing a song of praise before or after listening to the Spirit inspired evangelists’ testimonies to Jesus’ walk to the cross, then, hear a brief reflection of the word for our contemplation.
I. JESUS, THE GOD-MAN, IN PREPARATION
Before we begin, I want all of you to remember what had preceded to Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday, being welcomed by all people in the city. The whole city went out to meet Him, having palm branches on their hands and spreading their cloaks on Jesus’ path. Everyone was excited with His appearance. Then, in just a couple of days, everyone turned their back to Jesus and shouted out, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ In just a few days, their triumphant hero fell and became a terrible criminal.
Yet, you and I must not forget what was going on in the mind of Christ Jesus. That is, in all surrounding troubles, His eyes were fixed on His cross and He stepped forward one at a time to that hill to accomplish His purpose of coming in this world. In this sense, our Saviour Jesus was a Man of great sorrows!
Jesus suffered in our place and was condemned to seal our pardon with His blood.
But as He was moving toward the cross, specifically a couple of days before the day of His suffering, no one who followed Him knew what was coming. To prepare them, Jesus spoke these words from Mt. 26:1-2, then, immediately in vs. 3-5 and 14-16, His death on the cross was carried out by the hands of various people.
Mt. 26:1-5, 14-16
1 … Jesus … said to His disciples,
2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas,
4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him.
5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him.
The Lord Jesus predicted that He would be ‘delivered up’ or, in other words, ‘betrayed,’ and ‘handed over to be crucified’ (Mt. 17:22; 26:2). Our Saviour’s description is exactly right – He was betrayed and delivered up to be crucified. The Creator was ‘betrayed’ by His own creatures; the Life-Giver was delivered up to be crucified and killed. What an irony this is!
Here, in this absurd betrayal, we can readily blame the chief priests and the elders of Israel alongside Judas Iscariot. ‘They crucified Him,’ we can accuse. Yes, that’s right; Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and handed Him over to the priests and he did it out of greed; the priests handed the Lord over to Pilate, out of envy as Mt. 27:18 tells us; Pilate handed Him over to the soldiers and that was out of cowardice. Then, finally, the soldiers crucified Him, out of cruelty.
But never does our blame on them cover our sinfulness. With our greed, we find ourselves right there alongside Judas Iscariot; with our envy, in the midst of the priests; with our cowardice, together with Pilate; and with our cruelty, right in the middle of the soldiers! So, Jesus was crucified not only by those who had plotted, but also by us all who still betray Him, the Creator and Life-Giver, and betraying, deliver Him still over to the cross by our sinful and unrepentant hearts. We all, therefore, plotted to kill Jesus!
II. JESUS, THE GOD-MAN, IN PRAYER
‘Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified’ is what we’ve just sung. Yes, bane and pain were right before Jesus’ eyes, having blessing and pleasure far ahead. Though our Lord Jesus was, is and forever will be God, He was also fully Man. He also had to go through all things of His human nature, yet without sin, because He had come to die as the substitute for sins of all.
So, hear Mark who testifies to Jesus’ agony and struggle in the Garden as He in prayer prepared for His coming death. We read from Mk. 14:32-42.
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
34 And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”
35 And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
37 And He came and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?
38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.
40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him.
41 And He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise, let us be going; see, My betrayer is at hand.”
This prayer of Jesus amazes us. Firstly, He was greatly distressed and troubled as v. 33 tells us. Mt. 26:37 adds ‘sorrowful’ to His trouble. When He came to this place called, Gethsemane, to pray, He was deeply emotional. No human word could describe the depth of distress and trouble Jesus had on the night because in a few hours, He would be delivered over to the hands of the lawless men. Moreover, that death would be the death of taking away the sins of the world, paying the penalty for all the Father’s elect! It was not the death of a mere man who received it as the end of his time on earth then paid this penalty of death for his own sins. No, Jesus was sinless, yet, would receive the cup prepared for the Redeemer of the world. He was about to pay His life for many including you and me.
Lk. 22:43-44 testifies to the human side of Jesus, telling us that He needed an angel’s assistance in bearing the weight of the cup that was awaiting Him. Also as He prayed, His sweat “became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” No human word can describe that trouble of Jesus; no one can ever understand His distressed heart.
Consider His life – all His life was aiming the cross, that is, the very moment of taking the cup of painful suffering and death. Yet, the weight of sin He was going to bear troubled Him greatly, not because He couldn’t bear it, but because of the dreadfulness of sin that separated man from God, because of man in sin who never understood what the curse of sin had done to him!
In addition, Jesus prayed three times about the same thing, yet, each time He yielded to the Father’s will in loving surrender, saying, “not what I will, but what You will.” Taking the cup awaiting Him was the only way, so He yielded to the Father’s will and reaffirmed His willingness to obey the Father three time. This assures us of the faithfulness of God that whatever He says, He will surely keep and accomplish; so He will surely lead us to where His Son Jesus is now. In short, Jesus’ prayer shows us not only the cost of our redemption but also the nature of Jesus as God and man.
The last thing to consider here is that the disciples could not remain awake even for a moment. Without the Lord’s grace, we can achieve nothing; without His strength, we can do nothing. Even our faith that saves us is the Lord’s gift in His marvellous grace!
III. JESUS, THE GOD-MAN, IN PAIN
Mk. 14:43-50 & 53-65
43 And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the Man. Seize Him and lead Him away under guard.”
45 And when he came, he went up to Him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed Him.
46 And they laid hands on Him and seized Him.
47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture Me?
49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”
50 And they all left Him and fled.
53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
54 And Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.
55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but they found none.
56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimony did not agree.
57 And some stood up and bore false witness against Him, saying,
58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”
59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.
60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have You no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?”
61 But He remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need?
64 You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned Him as deserving death.
65 And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received Him with blows.
Imagine what Jesus might’ve thought in this process of being betrayed, arrested and taken to the Jewish religious court. One of His own disciples kissed Him and that was the beginning of Jesus’ drinking the cup prepared for Him. With His first sip of that cup, the Lord found Himself surrounded by a crowd with swards and clubs instead of beloved disciples.
The next sip brought Him many false witnesses in the high priest’s court. All of them accused the Son of God falsely. You know what? False accusations inflict deeper wounds upon a person than bringing true testimony. False accusations kindle a fire of revenge and retaliation in human hearts. And Jesus spent a long hour hearing many of those evil words. Yet He remained in silence; He didn’t speak a word in defence of His righteous words and deeds. Why? Because He came to be despised and rejected (as Isa. 53:3 foretold), yet to not open His mouth (as in Isa. 53:7). It was the second sip of the cup He drank.
The next sip of the cup led Him to greater shame. Being asked, Jesus plainly revealed to all that He was and is the Christ, the Son of God. Then, the high priest sentenced the Lord with the sin of blasphemy. Do you see what that means? To God, the Jewish high priest sentenced a sin of blasphemy! What an absurdity! What a bottomless vanity and stupidity! He also sentenced God, the Giver of Life, to death penalty! By this, some people around Jesus began spitting on Him and striking Him and mocking Him! The guards even received Jesus with blows!
Of course, Jesus did say no word as foretold. Not only being rejected or despised, but also being chastised, smitten, stricken and afflicted was what He had to take on Himself. He patiently tasted all these hardships.
We must remember, however, that such is the offence we’ve made against God. All of us rejected God as our Maker; all of us rejected Him from being the King over us all; we shook our fists at Him and cried out, demanding Him to leave us alone and go away from us. In that, we crucified the Lord Jesus, having inflicted all those shame to fall upon Him! Yet, He drank every sip of the cup, saying no word, no defence, no complaint, but willingly and gladly because of the freedom you and I would receive and enjoy for eternity!
IV. JESUS, THE GOD-MAN, ON THE CROSS
Then, our Saviour took the final sip and drank up the cup. We listen to the words recorded in Luke 23:32-54, and see the completion of our Lord’s saving work on the cross.
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with Him.
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left.
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide His garments.
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!”
36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine
37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
38 There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”
40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”
42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this Man was innocent!”
48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
49 And all His acquaintances and the women who had followed Him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.
54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.
Luke’s Gospel leads us to focus on the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross and see what He accomplished there, that is, our salvation. The centrality of this message is on Jesus’ forgiveness of sins and offer of His eternal life. He died, in a word, to make these available for sinners like us.
Look what Jesus says on the cross in v. 34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Although you’re familiar with this saying of the Lord, I challenge you to consider it afresh. Think about the situation of our Lord. He was hung on the cross, His whole body was sustained up on the cross by some Roman nails. Probably one nail on each wrist and another on His feet, nailed there since 9 am on Friday. And He prayed to the Father a prayer of forgiveness of sins! “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
He surely had heard what those people around the cross said in mockery; His body would surely be burning with indescribable pain. Yet, He prayed! Not for His delivery, but for the delivery of those around Him, including His mockers and executors and bystanders, from sin! How profound is Jesus’ heart for the sinners! How passionate is His desire for saving the sinners – even those who hate Him, reject Him and crucify Him! “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Truth is that all those people around the cross knew exactly what they were doing. All of them cried out before Pilate, demanding Jesus’ crucifixion, and saying this: “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt. 27:25). But our Saviour Jesus prayed to the Father who always listens to His Son, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” What an amazing love we find from this prayer of Jesus! Anyone who hears these words of forgiveness and finds the intensity of Christ’s love toward sinners, he/she will surely become speechless and fall before Him. No wonder why that Roman centurion who watched Jesus’ crucifixion from beginning to end said in v. 47 that Jesus was truly and certainly innocent! Saying that, that Roman centurion in his heart fell before Christ, being moved by the Saviour’s deep love.
This means that anyone and everyone can come to Him and receive His forgiveness of sins. There’s no distinction in Jesus’ forgiveness. All may come in repentance and be forgiven!
This is emphasised later in vs. 42-43. One of the sinners on Jesus’ sides said to Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He was a murder. Yet, he acknowledged his sin and his deservedness of such a punishment. But he asked in repentance, saying, ‘Remember me, Jesus’! See what the Saviour and Lord declared in response in v. 43: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise”! Hallelujah! Jesus declared the eternal life given to that penitent sinner!
Interestingly, Luke’s Gospel leads us to another saying of the Saviour, that is in v. 46. There Jesus said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And He breathed His last; He accomplished His life’s aim, that is, saving sinners from all corners of the earth!
So He still invites all to come to Him for forgiveness and eternal life: “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11.28). So, His last sip of the cup He drank was full of indescribable pain, shame and agony – even death – but the fruit all who come to Him and enjoy is sweet and nutritious enabling them to receive grace upon grace, and the Saviour’s eternal life! That Friday Jesus died was the Good Friday for all sinners, and we commemorate today that goodness of Christ and on another Friday next year and the next, until He finally returns to us in glory we’ll give our heartfelt thanks to our Saviour!
To conclude, let us hear the Saviour’s charge for His beloved church and all people who need a Saviour like Jesus; the word for us to hear is from Acts 2:22-24 & 36-41.
Acts 2:22-24, 36-41
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know –
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
24 God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
41 So those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
May the Lord Jesus open our ears to hear His words of invitation, and grant us His grace; and the Father’s love and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever more. Amen. ***