Good Friday

Friday, April 18, 2014

This week as I've been preparing my heart for Easter I've been thinking about what I would share for Good Friday. Nothing I wrote sounded real but ended silly and forced. Then I came across this. I was left wrenched on the floor. So I wont try to say it differently. I wont even change one word.
This is an excerpt from a sermon series entitled The Cross, by Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church. If you want to listen to the whole thing, and I plead with you to. You can find it here.  
Jesus, the night before He dies, gathers His disciples together for what would become communion, and He picks up this glass of red wine and He says, "This is the blood of the new covenant." Now, if you know anything about the Scriptures, that would have sounded unbelievably blasphemous to a 1st century Jew. "This is the blood of the new covenant." I drink it, you drink it. And they walk around the room, everybody’s confused. So Jesus says, "Okay, let Me go show you." And so, they leave and they go to the garden of Gethsemane. They walk into the garden, Jesus takes three of what was then the eleven because Judas went to become Judas, and He takes His three and says, "Will you guys pray with Me here, keep watch with Me, for I am overwhelmed to the point of death." That’s an interesting text if you ever want to dig into it to watch Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh being overwhelmed to the point of death where He goes a little farther, falls on His face and pleads with God that "if there be any other way, let’s do it that way," while full on knowing that there is no other way. And so, Jesus comes back to His disciples and says, "Could you not keep watch with Me for even an hour?" They were all asleep, so the answer to that question is, "No, we can’t." Now, He reminds them what’s at stake, He walks back in, falls down and continues to pray. He comes back out an hour or so later and they’re asleep again. And so, He wakes them up this time and says, "This time, it begins." A mob led by Judas Iscariot walks up to Jesus, Judas walks right up to the face of Jesus, kisses Him on the cheek and calls Him "good teacher," and Jesus says, "You betray Me with a kiss." It’s an interesting text if you think about what’s going in universally here. The cross of Christ is the response of God toward men for belittling His name. Let me say it like this. The cross of Christ is because mankind, loved by God, created by God, put into place by God, betrays God and prefers His stuff to Him. Judas Iscariot, who had walked with Jesus, seen the miracles, seen the power of God, kisses Jesus’ face in betrayal. And in this one little picture, we have what’s going on in the universe.
So Peter, who had only been rebuked twice in the last hour and a half, decides that he needs another one. And so he pulls out his sword and tries to fight the high priest’s guards. It’s an interesting animal, Peter. He pulls the sword and fights the high priest’s guards, and three hours from then he doesn’t want to fight at all. But he cuts the guard’s ear off, Jesus picks up the guard’s ear, sticks it back on the guy’s head and says, "This isn’t how it’s going to happen. No one’s taking My life, Peter. I’m giving it." So, they arrest Jesus, and they try Him, six times they try Him. Three of the six would have been illegal by law. It was illegal and forbidden for the Jews to hold trial at night. Three of those trials were in the evening. They beat Him severely at each trial. The Scriptures say that they pulled the beard out of His face. They yanked the beard out of His face, they spit on Him and they mocked Him. They blindfolded Him and then slapped Him and then said, "Prophesy. Who slapped you? Which one of us was the one that slapped you? They pushed a crown of thorns down on His head, they gave Him a staff, put a purple robe on Him, "Hail king of the Jews," took the staff from Him and beat Him with it. And then Pilate, who wants no part of this, thinks that he can shame Jesus enough and beat Him severely enough that the Jews would let Him go. And so he beats Christ, God in the flesh, until He’s this mangled, bloody body that he sets in front and says, "What do we do now? How about we let him go?" The crowd, who five days earlier said "Hosanna, Hosanna" and laid down palm leaves as Jesus rode into town, now screams, "Crucify him." And the art of crucifixion, and I call it an art because it really was an art form back in that day. I mean, it was designed by the Romans over a period of time. The Romans ruled the world, and in order to rule the world at that time, you needed a lot of fear.
And so, their idea was, "If we can slaughter men and women wholesale over an extended period of time in a way that’s so horrific that no one would betray us for fear of having this happen, that would be ideal." And so, over a period of years, they came up with crucifixion that at times could take days for a man to die on a cross. They basically beat you and hang you in such a way that, over a slow period of time, your lungs fill with blood until you drown in your own blood. And they were like, "The act of death isn’t enough. We need shame involved. So, let’s strip the person naked, and let’s put them in a public square where every lowlife imaginable can come out and taunt, can come out and spit, can come out and yell. Let’s make a spectacle of it, and then the shame of the spectacle coupled with the agonizing death, this will be a deterrent for anybody ever rebelling against us." And so, Jesus is taken out, and He’s nailed to a cross. And in the irony of ironies, the high priest is there mocking Him. Men and women spitting upon Him, quoting Scripture to Him. I mean, the whole thing’s wrought with irony as His lungs fill with blood. The beating He sustained beforehand probably aided in the pace of His death. He died a lot quicker than most men on the cross. It goes dark in the middle of His crucifixion. A lot of people say that was God turning His back on Jesus. The problem with that is the Bible. Go read Psalm 22 this afternoon. God does not turn His back on Jesus ever. By the way, all the sins of the world, God was aware of them before they happened, so it’ wasn’t like that surprised God all of a sudden. "All the sins of the world, I can’t look!" Yeah, He can’t help but look. He sees everything. And so, it goes dark, one of the Roman soldiers says, "Uh oh, maybe He truly was the son of God." Jesus utters, "It is finished." And the earth shook and the veil in the temple tore, and this is what happened to God.
Matt goes on to talk about the old testament system of sacrifice for the removal of sin. And it goes like this,  
"If you commit this sin, this is what it costs. If you commit this sin, this is what you have to sacrifice." Maybe two doves, maybe a lamb, maybe a goat, maybe a bull depending on what your sin was. And so, in the tent of meetings and in Jerusalem, blood was always flowing. Blood always flowed from the temple. Can you imagine the stench in Jerusalem? It’s like every day, hundreds and thousands of people are walking in with a goat, a lamb, a chicken, a dove. And they’re coming in and they’re blood letting it. They’re cutting its throat and draining its blood, and a river of blood is flowing out of the temple. And God
says, "Here’s what we’re going to do. Once a year, we’re going to do something called the Day of Atonement. On top of all these other sacrifices, once a year, here’s what I want. The high priest, the Levite of the house of Aaron, he’s going to come before Me and he’s going to bring a bull and a ram, and he’s going to blood let those two for his family and for himself." So the high priest comes in, kills the bull, drains its blood, kills the ram, drains all its blood, catches those fools on fire and then walks out. He then bathes, puts on new linens, puts on a new turban, puts on a new tunic, puts it all on and then he brings two lambs, two goats. He brings in the two goats, he walks into the holy of holies after they’ve burned incense, he brings in the two goats and he confesses sin over the one goat and he takes the blade and he bleeds it. And then he prays over the other goat all the sins of Israel, and then they put that goat on a leash and lead him out into the wilderness. One goat absorbs the wrath of God towards sin. The other goat, the scape goat, they take the other goat into the wilderness, and the other goat carries away the sins of Israel. And this is the system they were in.

Now, here’s the problem with the sacrificial system, both then and now. God doesn’t need sacrifices. God’s going, "I don’t need your bulls, I don’t want your goats. You’re missing the point. I’m trying to communicate to you how disgusting and how horrible and how costly your sin is before Me. And instead of feeling that weight and instead of understanding that, you just keep doing what you’re doing, but you keep bringing Me goats and bulls like that’s what I really want."

So, Jesus picks up the cup, and He says, "The old covenant is over or rather is fulfilled. Drink this, the blood of the new covenant." And Jesus becomes the two lambs, the Lamb of God. And the blade of God’s wrath penetrates the Son and bleeds Him and absorbs the wrath of God towards mankind. And the iniquity of man is placed upon the head of Jesus, so that at His physical death, the iniquity of mankind would be carried away. And this is what is meant by "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
Friends, that is Good Friday. It was Gods plan from day one. It wasn't plan B. It's for you and for me. Three days later, after Jesus was wrapped in linen and buried in a tomb, He rose from the dead. He conquered death. For 40 days he walked the earth and taught the disciples. Then he went back to heaven. He's there today at the right hand of God waiting to hear the words, "It's time. Go get them."

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