Today is Good Friday. Which is the most bittersweet day on the Christian calendar.
Sorrow : Remembering: Many things – Jesus suffered at the hands of his own creation.
Joy : Because it’s also a day that we remember the depth of God’s love for each and every one of us.
It’s the day Jesus was crucified for me, and for you.
I believe: Savior of the world.
I believe that Jesus is the savior of the world. And as the people of the world, in so many ways, we continue to destroy ourselves and each other.
I believe it’s important to remember that we believe that Jesus alone is the great hope of humanity. And that’s all about the cross.
Don’t be too quick: explain what the crucifixion means.
Instead: learn what it means to sit with the mystery of a God who suffers at the hands of his own creation.
15th century German Renaissance painter
Who is – tortured, dying man – Nailed – cross?
Christians make outlandish statement: This is God. – Crucified God.
If – don’t find that shocking, you’ve become far too familiar with the crucifixion.
There should be something in you that thinks that this doesn’t make sense.. – How can this tortured dying man be God?
If Christianity hadn’t existed – instead people – invent a God. Wouldn’t have imagined this. I do know that if Christianity hadn’t existed, we wouldn’t have imagined this.
This isn’t how you show an omnipotent, all powerful God.
Yet, this is God. – There is no clearer picture of who God is than that man, right there saying ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’
When praying about this night, I felt like what would be honoring of Jesus is for us to enter into his story.
Come with Me
Not in Believers Center
Hearts and our minds are in jerusalem. – 2000 years ago.
It is the week leading up to Good Friday, the day Jesus is brutally killed.
We’re one of the pilgrims who have come to believe in Jesus.
We believe he is the Messiah; God’s anointed king.
The one who liberate us from tyranny.
We followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem.
& It’s Sunday
Jesus – Arrives in Jerusalem
When Jesus came to Jerusalem from Galilee, he enters the city riding on a… Donkey.
Not even a full grown donkey, but a colt. – Male donkey, younger than 4 years old. – Basically a wimpy little donkey.
Wasn’t an accident – Jesus did it on purpose.
That same week, Pontius Pilate, the roman governor also came in to the city.
He doesn’t live in Jerusalem. Didn’t care much for commoners.
He had a lovely home. Mansion. Built on the seaside right off the Mediterranean sea, next to Herod the great. You can still see the ruins there.
City named for Cesar – Caesarea.
Passover. – Jewish holiday – Liberation.
So, at Passover. – The jewish holiday remembering their liberation from oppression.
This was a good time for people to get the idea to revolt and rebel. – This actually happened multiple times.
So the roman governor knew that he couldn’t just chill in his mansion, but instead had to come down to oversee.
So in the same week – Jesus and Pontius Pilate BOTH come to Jerusalem.
But he is not riding a donkey.
No Pontius Pilate rides, what is known as a war horse.
If you were to see it you’d say “Yes there he is! The mighty governer! Great and powerful! Mighty stallion!” Strength, glory, dignity.
Peasant, preacher, prophet guy
Riding a wimpy kid donkey and then these poor people surrounding him and recognizing him as the real king.
Appear slightly ridiculous. Might have been some people laughing.
But we don’t think so. With waving palm branches we say
“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” – “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13)
We believe – Jesus is the true king. Enough of Herod, enough of Cesar. Jesus is the true king.
Jesus goes to the Temple. – An in an act of prophetic symbolism flips the tables, and cleanses the temple. Condemning religious exploitation. There were people using religion: Control, exploit, manipulate.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it into a den of thieves.” – (Matthew 21:13)
And from that moment on – they plotted how to kill Jesus.
“We had enough of this man disturbs our religion.”
“Not during the festival. He’s too popular. – Riot.”
There is a meal in Bethany.
There is a meal in Bethany. Mary brought her alabaster box filled with $25,000 worth of perfume. &
took the expensive ointment, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)
People criticized her.
“Leave her alone. She did a beautiful thing. She is anointing me for my burial.” (Mark 14:6)
In Jerusalem there was a supper in the upper room.
We know it as “The Last Supper.” – Written on my arm.
Following that – the mood of Jesus changes. Drastically.
Judas, one of the 12 slips away and goes to the chief priests to make a deal.
Judas says I know what you want. I know you want to arrest Jesus, but you can’t, at least not out in the open. Perhaps I can find a way for you to apprehend him in private, in the dark.
Later, Jesus – troubled – garden to pray.
Later, Jesus becomes troubled and he goes to the garden to pray. He’s in anguish, he’s troubled, he’s afraid, and that’s when they come for him.
The Temple police, led by Judas. Who betrays Jesus with a kiss.
Jesus is arrested and taken away.
He’s taken to the house of Caiaphas. It’s really more of the palace. And there in front of the religious council, Jesus is questioned.
Caiaphas, places Jesus under oath and says:
“I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63)
Jesus: “It’s as you say.”
Then Caiphas tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. (Matthew 26:65)
One problem: They’re not allowed to execute people. The Romans have reserved that right for themselves. So they need Pilate (Roman Governer) to oversee the execution. – As luck would have it – He’s in town.
They wait till morning – In Caiphas’s house – Jesus will wait.
Water Cistern turned dungeon
There was a water cistern – turned into a dungeon. – Shame high priest would have a dungeon, but he did.
No doubt, that’s where Jesus was kept.
He would be lowered down from the top with ropes.
They did the same thing with Jeremiah. He also protested the temple. 6 centuries earlier. – For that, he ended up in a cistern turned prison just like Jesus.
You can go to that sistern today. It’s overseen by Franciscan monks. (Pic)
Today, the cistern is overseen by some Franciscan monks.
In it is a small pulpit, and on the pulpit is a notebook. And in that notebook, page after page after page is Psalm 88 in every type of language. You can flip through and find it in Spanish, english, french, Japanese, whatever.
Why Psalm 88? Psalm of the pit.
Why Psalm 88? It’s the psalm of the pit. In it, the psalmist writes from a place of despair, where everything is falling apart. – Everything is going to darkness. Church history tells us that when Jesus was alone in that pit, in pitch black darkness awaiting his death, he could be heard praying the Psalm of the pit.
Picture in your mind – Jesus in a dungeon, total darkness, awaiting his execution, perched up against the wall. This is his prayer.
O Lord, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you. (Psalm 88:1)
Let my prayer enter into your presence; incline your ear to my lamentation. (Psalm 88:2)
For I am full of trouble; my life is at the brink of the grave. (Psalm 88:3)
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I have become like one who has no strength; (Psalm 88:4)
Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, (Psalm 88:5)
Whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. (Psalm 88:6)
You have laid me in the depths of the Pit, in dark places, and in the abyss. (Psalm 88:7)
You have put my friends far from me; you have made me to be abhorred by them; I am in prison and cannot get free. (Psalm 88:9)
But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help; in the morning my prayer comes before you. (Psalm 88:14)
Lord, why have you rejected me? why have you hidden your face from me? (Psalm 88:15)
Ever since my youth, I have been afflicted and at the point of death; I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind. (Psalm 88:16)
They surround me all day long like a flood; they encompass me on every side. (Psalm 88:18)
My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion. (Psalm 88:19)
And Jesus sits and waits for the sun to rise on the day of his execution.
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. (John 18:28)
So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” (John 18:29)
They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” (John 18:30)
Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” (John 18:31)
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)
This is the question for Pilate. He has no interest in some Jewish religion that he knows little about. If he is going to kill him it’s going to be for something political. – Treason.
It’s going to be because he is trying to take power from Cesar.
And we can’t just have another man coming around claiming to be King.
Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33)
Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (John 18:34)
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” (John 18:35)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting. But my kingdom is not of the world.” (John 18:36)
See, the kingdom of God, is not like anything else we have here.
Babylon – Persia – Greece – Rome
These are the kingdoms that come from this world. The way of the beast.
But the kingdom of God, not from this world.
If it was, my servants would be doing what your servants do: fight.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)
“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. (John 18:38)
But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” (John 18:39)
They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. (John 18:40)
Barabbas was a revolutionary. Mel Gibson doesn’t get this one quite right. He paints Barabbas to be maniacal psychopath killer. That’s not what Barabbas was.
Barabbas was a hero.
Barabbas was a revolutionary who led an uprising against the Romans and in doing so, some Romans were killed.
He was a freedom fighter if you were jewish.
Oh, by the way his full name was “Jesus bar Abba” – Jesus Barabbas. Uh oh! We got ourselves 2 Jesus’s on Good Friday.
One – saves by shedding the blood of his enemies, the other saves by allowing his own blood to be shed.
Who do we want? – That’s the question being asked.
You got two Jesus’s in here. Which one do you want to keep, and which one do you want to kill?
The revolutionary or the one who speaks about different kind of kingdom?
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. (John 19:1)
The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe (John 19:2)
and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (John 19:3)
Now remember who you are. And remember where you are. We are pilgrims in Jerusalem who have followed Jesus because we believe it is time for him to become king. – And here it is.
I know, it’s not we were expecting. It’s not what we had hoped for. Although it IS what Jesus said would happen.
The crown made of thorns is a crown on the one true king.
The last and only hope of humanity.
“Jesus is the messiah. The Christ. The solution. For you and for the world.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 19:4)
When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (John 19:5)
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 19:6)
The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:7)
How ironic. That’s exactly what Cesar claimed to be.
Every coin in the pocket of that crowd had the face of cesar and under it, the words ‘The Son of God’.
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, (John 19:8)
and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. (John 19:9)
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:10)
What is truth? Here is Pilates truth. : The power to kill. – Ultimate power to Pilate is this: Power over others.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12)
Clever – They know how to manipulate Pilate. They know where he’s vulnerable.
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). (John 19:13)
It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. (John 19:14)
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. (John 19:15)
Wow. That’s a eruption of the real.
“This guy is going against all your systems.”
“Just so you know Pilate, we’re playing the same game you are.”
They take off their masks for a moment.
“We have no king but Cesar either.”
“We talk about God. We talk about the messiah. That’s how we get power. Just like you. We do it through religion, you do it through conquest, but at the end of the day, we both serve the same master, and that’s Cesar. So we’re gonna put on our masks again and go back to being priests, but just know, we know who the real King is too. That’s power. Alright? We straight? Good. We’ll put the masks back on. Now let’s keep playing the game.”
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. (John 19:16)
Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). (John 19:17)
There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (John 19:18)
And after several hours of hanging on that cross:
… Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matthew 27:46)
Prayer – Psalm 22
Which he get’s through the 1st half of.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; by night as well, but I find no rest (Psalm 22:2)
Be not far away, O Lord; you are my strength; hasten to help me. (Psalm 22:19)
Save me from the sword, my life from the power of the dog. (Psalm 22:20)
Save me from the lion’s mouth, my wretched body from the horns of wild bulls. (Psalm 22:21)
I will declare your Name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you. (Psalm 22:22)
Praise the Lord, you that fear him… (Psalm 22:23)
For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither does he hide his face from them; but when they cry to him he hears them. (Psalm 22:24)
The poor shall eat and be satisfied, and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: “May your heart live forever!” (Psalm 22:26)
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall bow before him. (Psalm 22:27)
For kingship belongs to the Lord; he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:28)
My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him; they shall be known as the Lord’s forever. (Psalm 22:30)
They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that he has FINISHED. (Psalm 22:31)
Jesus’s Prayer on the cross. – The generation to come shall make known the savings deeds that He Has Finished.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28)
A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:29)
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Jesus is dead.
We’re in jerusalem. It’s friday. – We’re at golgotha – a heavily used execution site.
Jesus is dead. – Still hanging there. On the cross.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea came and took away his body. (John 19:38)
Nicodemus also came bringing a mixture of murr and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. (John 19:39)
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloth with the spices. (John 19:40)
And now we leave Golgotha – and along with a few of the women, we follow Joseph and Nicodemus as they carry the body of Jesus now wrapped in cloths anointed with spices. – Tenderly carry the body of Jesus from Golgotha a short distance to a walled garden, Josephs garden, wealthy man, joseph unlocks the gate and they carry the body of Jesus into this small and peaceful garden. Olive trees, fragrant flowers.
So different than the scene of Golgotha, this garden. – Peaceful. Quiet. Beauty to it. The body of Jesus was laid in this new tomb, it was going to be Joseph’s tomb, but in an act of devotion he gives his tomb to Jesus.
We see Jesus laying in that tomb.
Tomb is sealed and for 3 days Jesus will stay.
I continue to be struck by the mystery of a God who bleeds.
And how in so many ways, Jesus wasn’t the God we were expecting.
Kind – Loving – Forgiving
Even in our evil, we kill Him. – He still returns offering forgiveness and grace.
If asked: Where is the center of Christian faith. We point to the cross. We say “Right there.”
“Where are our sins forgiven and world made right? – Point: cross.
This is the part that we miss: If asked: What God is like. We point to the cross.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16)
Here’s – mystery:
- In his brokenness, we find mending.
- In his death, we find new life.
- And here’s the most mysterious part: By His wounds, we are healed.