Sermon transcript, 3 April 2015, Good Friday
This day by Fr. Dana
Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 69:1-23, Hebrews 10:1-25, John 19:1-42
Father, we cannot comprehend what Jesus went through this day. We can’t even comprehend what His followers went through the next day and a half. And it seemed that He was gone from this world. Help us to enter into that time, Father. May we feel the hopelessness and the despair, the pain and the agony and the sorrow – not so that we can dwell there, but that our joy on Sunday morning would be all that much greater. Help us walk the way of the cross, keeping our eyes fixed on the prize of the resurrection. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
What was it like for Jesus?
Isaiah 52:14 tells us: “So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men”. I could never visualise that until the film The Passion of the Christ came out, and now I can’t forget it. We can’t imagine what it was like for Jesus, but today’s Psalm gives us some things to ponder:
Read Psalm 69:1-2. What is this that Jesus has sunk into? It is our sin. The depth of our sin has no limit: our sins are so deep that there is no bottom upon which to stand.
Read Psalm 69:3. In the garden as Jesus was praying, looking forward to what He knew was coming, He sweat blood [Luke 22:44]. If He did that while He was praying, what was it like to hang on the cross?
“Those who hate Me without a cause are more than the hairs of My head…” (Psalm 69:4) He wasn’t just talking about the people gathered around the cross, or even the people who had been shouting in the courtyard for His crucifixion, but all those in all of history who without a cause hate Him, because He bore the sin of everyone – not just those who were alive at His time.
Read Psalm 69:5. You and I know that Jesus wasn’t foolish: He had no sins; but He took on our sins, He took on our foolishness. He carried it all: He carried your sins, He carried my sins.
Read Psalm 69:6. From a human standpoint He looked pretty sad. He had been beaten beyond what we can imagine and there was nothing in Him that was attractive [Isaiah 53:2]. But we are not ashamed to call Him Lord. In fact He won’t be a stumbling block to us; He Himself said He would be a stumbling block to those who think they know better – the proud; but those who await the Lord’s salvation will not be ashamed.
Read Psalm 69:7. This shows that He did it for the Father: He is speaking to the Father, and He says “Because for Your sake I have born this reproach, shame covers My face for the sin that I carry: even though it is not Mine, I make it Mine.”
Read Psalm 69:13. “I’m praying to You, and in the acceptable time hear Me.” The Father did hear Him, and the Father acted, but not until He died. That had to come first. The acceptable time was the time of His death.
Read Psalm 69:14-15. That limitless depth of our sin was not too deep for Him: it could not overcome Him. And it says that He descended into Hell; and when He did, Hell could not keep Him in: the pit could not shut its mouth on Him [Acts 2:24].
Read Psalm 69:20. In the garden He took Peter, James and John aside as He went to pray, and He asked them to watch for one hour. He looked for comforters, for someone to go with Him at least part of the way on this journey, but they couldn’t do it: they fell asleep. Jesus said “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And so He asked them again and they fell asleep; and a third time, but even that was too much for them. [Mark 14:32-41] And so He took His journey alone. He was arrested; He was tried; and He was alone. Even though Peter went, he denied Him. And so He was convicted; and He was tortured; and He carried His cross up the hill; and He was crucified.
The perfect sacrifice
Isaiah 53:5 says that “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him”. Yes, the Lord God His Father “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6): not because the Father likes blood – that’s not why He established the Old Testament sacrifice. He was telling us, as He told Abraham, that perfect justice requires a perfect sacrifice of perfect love. Jesus is the only one who could be this perfect sacrifice: not only because He was without sin, but also because He was perfectly willing to give up his equality with the Father to become incarnate with the human race. He was perfectly willing to give up His body to the torturer so that He might take on all our sins; and He was perfectly willing to give up His life to the grave so that we might rise with Him to everlasting life. [Philippians 2:6-8, Isaiah 53:7]
Be crucified with Christ
So what for us? We are called to be like Him. Galatians 2:20 tells us Paul’s attitude; and we are to have his attitude. If we are crucified with Christ, the life we live will look different: the life we live will be like the life Jesus lived. And no one will understand it: they will think it’s crazy; they will think it’s foolish. But if we are crucified with Christ – which we are called to be – and we enter into His suffering and we enter into this time of grief and pain, it will be a time of purification; it will be a time of intimate fellowship. Jesus on the cross said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” [Psalm 22:1, Mark 15:34] You might picture that as God having to turn His face away because at that moment Jesus was carrying all our sins; but He did it so that God never has to turn His face away from us.