GOOD FRIDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 15 April 2022
Sermon Text: Luke 9:18-22
Sermon Series: “Dying and Rising with Christ”
I. Jesus’ death on the cross is to bring people to God
II. Jesus’ cross means that men are separated from God
III. Jesus’ cross is the price paid for man’s rejection of God
IV. Jesus’ cross and man’s bliss
As we’ve just read, Jesus affirms that He is the Messiah God promised for deliverance of His people from sin. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, confesses and says, [You are] “The Christ of God.” Matthew’s Gospel gives us a clearer version of his confession in these words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Having confirmed it, Jesus tells Peter and other disciples that He is going to suffer and be rejected and killed, and on the third day be raised.
Friends, it is a historical fact. Jesus lived, preached the gospel of free grace, died on the cross, and rose again on the third day. As much as the sun rises every morning, His birth, life, death and resurrection are true indeed.
Today, we focus on His death and consider briefly the meaning of His cross and how it brings to people like us an eternal bliss.
I. JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS IS TO BRING PEOPLE TO GOD
Surely the cross is the symbol of Jesus’ death and what it brings to sinners; it brings salvation, eternal life, to people by bringing them – like you and me – to God. I believe you’ve seen one of the drawings the Navigators use in evangelism. It is a drawing of two cliffs bridged by Jesus’ cross. In that drawing, sinners cross the wide valley through Jesus’ cross to come to God who is on the other side. Although that’s not a perfect display of the meaning of Jesus’ cross, it sketches salvation the cross provides.
Bringing people to God means reconciling them to God. In other words, the cross reunites sinful men to the righteous and holy God. Whoever looks to the cross – that is, whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God and died for the forgiveness of sins of many, and raised from the dead on the third day – is reconciled, reunited to God through forgiveness and renewal of his/her heart and soul. This is the truth that changes the whole world since Jesus spoke the very words we’ve read from Lk. 9 and up until now. And this will be so until the end of the present age.
II. JESUS’ CROSS MEANS THAT MEN ARE SEPARATED FROM GOD
If you consider this truth of Jesus’ cross, you can see that people need the cross to be reconciled to God and be saved. Jesus’ death this cross signifies is absolutely essential for anyone and everyone who desires a life eternal. Without His death, without His cross, no one will see salvation.
This tells us that men are separated from God. This means that people are kept from God. There’s no way for any man or woman to come to God. And what keeps men and women from God? Why can’t we approach God? Why is God far from men?
The simple and straightforward answer is man’s sinfulness. We’re sinners. We’re criminals in the eyes of God, thus, cannot stand in His presence. The analogy John the Apostle uses to describe this is the natural laws between light and darkness. Darkness cannot approach light nor exist with light. If so, darkness will immediately cease to exist. This darkness is sinful man and because of sin, man cannot come to God who is light.
Moreover, people cannot come to God because we altogether have rejected Him. We put God in exile. Men and women of the world have declared autonomy, independence against the sovereignty of God. It’s not God who departed us; rather, man rebelled against God. This is the true nature of man’s sinfulness – we rejected God to no longer be our God; we renounced His rule; we boycotted God’s governance. We pulled out; we quit; we evacuated from the presence of God.
In a word, all men and women of the world are not kept from God by anything outside of ourselves. Instead, we keep ourselves from God and this is the true definition of man’s sin.
Let me give you the most fundamental and striking evidence of our rejection of God. A natural man who lives in God’s world, whose life continues with and by all things God provides does not recognise God in any possible way. We give no consideration to God at all in any way. The Creator is vanished in the mind of human being. No natural man sees things around him and perceives them in relation to God the Creator. Instead, he considers all things and events in relation to himself. To man’s heart, his own self, not God, is the centre of all things. We erased God and made ourselves gods instead! And this is our sin which keeps us from God.
III. JESUS’ CROSS IS THE PRICE PAID FOR MAN’S REJECTION OF GOD
Jesus’ death on the cross is the price paid to reverse, nullify and cancel man’s sin of rejecting God. Paying a price for sin is a universal truth. Even children reckon that as justice. Man’s sin of rejecting the holy and sovereign Creator God must pay its price. And that price is death. So everyone dies and no one is exempt. This due price for our sins troubles us not just at the very moment of death but also always and constantly while we live on earth.
To pay this price for many, Jesus came and died. His death is worth the atonement for the sins of many because He was not a man born of sin, but the sinless Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, yet came in flesh just like any of us. So He was and is fully man and fully God. His death is, therefore, the death of the God-man. Because of this, He could die in place of sinful men and not in place of just one man but of uncountable many.
Jesus’ cross means a perfect payment for man’s sin. This payment is for whomever comes to Jesus, recognising his/her own sins, thus, asking forgiveness, and acknowledging that Jesus can save him/her. By believing in Him, Jesus’ death becomes the death of any and all believers.
IV. JESUS’ CROSS AND MAN’S BLISS
Jesus’ cross becomes, therefore, sinner’s bliss! Let me repeat this – Jesus’ cross is man’s bliss! That’s because when you believe in Jesus, He has already paid the penalty you owe; when you trust in Him as your Saviour and Lord, He has reconciled you to God and made God your Heavenly Father! By Jesus’ cross, you’re now sure of not only your eternal safety in God but also your eternal joy in your dwelling in God’s eternal kingdom.
Jesus’ cross is your bliss and mine and of all believers because it is given to all who trust in Him without price. Jesus does not require a recompense, nor a contract. Rather, He seeks all to have His life. Listen to Jesus, saying this in Jn. 7, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” About this ‘flowing rivers of living water,’ Jesus explains it in Mt. 11 as a ‘rest’ He gives, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.” This flowing river of living water is a rest from toils of this world, a rest from the weight of sin, and this blessing of God never ends, never dries up.
This is the reason why we call today ‘Good Friday.’ Jesus died on this day 2,000 years ago; and His death, His cross, brings God’s eternal blessing to you and to me and to all who come to Him in faith. So the day of Jesus’ death was the day that confirmed believers’ eternal bliss, and the day on which any man or woman trusts in Jesus is the day his/her eternal bliss begins!
God bless all who trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, who was sinless, yet, died in the place of sinners. May the cross of Jesus be the eternal bliss to everyone who comes to Him in faith! May the day anyone confesses that Jesus is the Saviour and Lord be the day that eternal bliss begins with that soul! ***