The Lord Be With You Today!
(On this “Good” Friday morning some 2000 years ago,
Jesus had earlier agonized alone in prayer in Gethsemane,
He had been arrested by a mob as a common criminal
and led away to become the Passover Lamb,
all His disciples had forsaken Him during the night
as they fled for their lives in terror,
and Peter was in anguish for having betrayed Him.
After a night of beatings, humiliations, and floggings
and after appearing before the high priest and Pilate early in the morning,
on this Good Friday Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion.)
Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
(Each of the Gospel writers uses just such a similar, simple phrase
to describe the unspeakable horror and finality of Jesus’ death sentence,
and then while hanging on the cross itself,
Jesus uttered a series, seven in all, of wrenching statements before He died.)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing . . . . “
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him.
(Even on the cross with nails tearing His flesh and
holding Him suspended between heaven and earth,
as He looked straight into the jeering, hate-filled eyes of people
celebrating His long, slow, excruciating death,
Jesus even then, even still extends forgiveness to us!)
Then he (a criminal also being crucified) said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”
(One of two criminals who was being crucified along with Jesus
and who, unlike Jesus, actually deserved punishment
because of crimes he had committed
realized His need of Christ and spoke in those few words a deep faith
that Jesus really is Messiah King over a kingdom of men.
His is a cry that pleads not only for salvation, but for significance,
as, while breathing his last breaths, he realizes he had spent his life in vain
and humbly asks the Lord to remember him.
Even in Jesus' suffering and throes of death,
this sinful man could see that Jesus was the Messiah
and was ushering in a Kingdom even in His death.)
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth,
today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
(Jesus lovingly responds to perhaps the first soul born again into salvation
as the result of His redemptive work on the cross.
Here, even in His own sacrificial agony, Jesus hears the desperate cry of another
and selflessly, lovingly, and mercifully provides salvation for a man in need.)
John 19:26-28, 30
When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby,
He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,”
and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”
From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
(Even in the agony of a torturous death, Jesus looks to those He loves who are in need.
He is mindful of his mother witnessing His death as Messiah,
now watching Her Son Who was born to her with the sole purpose to die,
born to save the world through His death on the cross.
As He sees His earthly mother whom He loves,
as He sees her grief and seeming abandonment,
as He sees His young friend and disciple John
who had earlier abandoned Jesus and fled in the night in terror
for a time in faithlessness and cowardice,
He reaches out in love to them to offer His love and provision,
even as He still reaches out to our needs today.)
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? –which means,
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
(Jesus prays the prophetic prayer from Psalm 22.
Because Jesus now bore the sin of the whole world
becoming Himself the sacrificial Lamb sin offering,
He was separated from His Father God.
His earlier prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
when He had prayed for strength for this very hour,
actually sweating great drops of His own blood,
had anticipated not only the horror of carrying this heavy weight of sin,
of actually becoming sin Who knew no sin,
but more tragically its resulting severance and separation from His God.
He knew that the very sin He carried for us
would temporarily separate Him, the only time in all eternity,
from His Holy and Righteous and Beloved Father,
and the prospect and actual experience of that separation was almost unbearable.
Yet, as He had prayed that the cup of suffering and separation
that His Father had given Him to drink could, if possible, pass from Him,
He had also prayed that God’s will, not His own, be fulfilled.
Jesus, the ultimate Lamb, intensely God, becomes
the self-selected and self-emptying sacrifice.)
Later, knowing that all was now completed,
and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
(While completely God, but completely man as well,
knowing His mission was now nearing its end,
Jesus still felt compelling, human, physical needs.
His thirst reveals how completely He fully experienced
all the pain and agony of His torturous death.
Earlier in Gethsemane, He had asked that the cup be removed,
and now He calls for a cup to slack His thirst
so He can give us living water and so that we will never thirst again.)
When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”
(A triumphant victory cry, He saw that His mission was now accomplished,
that He had fulfilled the purposes that He and His Father
had laid down before the foundations of the world,
that He would provide the means for redemption and salvation
for His lost and desperately needy people, for you and me.
Now far from being finished, through His crucifixion,
His Kingdom come is just begun,
a new way of life, a new salvation
where our sins are covered and our debt is cancelled.)
With that, He bowed His Head and gave up His Spirit.
(No one could take His life.
Rather, Jesus released his life and laid it down Himself.
Of His own volition and under His control, He decided the moment He would die.)
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice,
(In utter agony and suffering,
Jesus cries out from the deep physical and spiritual pain
of the weight of our sin that He carried.)
He gave up His Spirit.
(Again, specific words that indicate Jesus’ life was not taken from Him,
but that He laid it down Himself and released Himself
into the death that He knew would provide atonement for sin
and lead to His Resurrection and to life and salvation for us.)
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.”
When He had said this, He breathed His last.
(As in death for all human beings, Jesus' Spirit belongs fully to God
and rests in His sovereign judgment and care.
From Psalm 31, this prayer is Jesus' final submission
when the Creator of light enters the darkness of death itself.)
It was now about the sixth hour, (about 9:00 a.m., about the time of the morning sacrifice)
and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, (about noon)
for the sun stopped shining.
(Broad daylight turned to black night as Jesus died.
As He hung suspended between heaven and earth for these hours,
the darkness of sin and evil had seemingly triumphed
as light turned to darkness in the middle of the day.
Even heaven and earth responded to their Creator's death.
Though unknown and not comprehended by men,
in the darkness of these hours, when the situation seemed most hopeless,
when the circumstances were the darkest, when all hope seemingly was lost,
God the Father was doing His greatest work of all Creation through His Son.)
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
(But the curtain in the Holy of Holies in the Temple
that separated the people from the Holy Presence of God
was ripped apart from top to bottom so that we, through Christ’s sacrifice,
can boldly approach our God and His very throne of grace and forgiveness.)
Going to Pilate, he (Joseph of Arimathea) asked for Jesus’ body.
Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth
and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.
(The Creator God, the Great I AM, the Holy One, the Lord of Lords,
the King of Kings, the Mighty Rock, the Strong Fortress, Wisdom Himself,
the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, the King of Righteousness, the Son of God,
now lay in the cold and unrelenting darkness of death and the grave.
His Body cold and lifeless, even He Himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
is now held captive to the cruel and wretched fate of all men.
Although this Friday seems to have ended in tragic defeat,
the story doesn't end here,
and the glory of Sunday morning sunrise and Son-rise is coming!
He still today brings the power of resurrection life
into the hopelessness and death that we face on all the "Fridays" in our lives!)
May the Lord richly bless you this day!
In Christ’s love,
513 254 3874