Why GOOD Friday?
Text: John 19:1-30
1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. 3 Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands. 4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him." 5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!" 6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." 8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" 11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar." 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" 15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!" 16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away. 17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, ’The King of the Jews,’ but, ’He said, "I am the King of the Jews." ’ " 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." 23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things. 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:1-30 (NKJV)
This past year we have faced many tragedies in our lives. There have been disappointments, discouragements and even death. When these things happen we often ask the question, “Why?”
The problem is that we want to have an answer and there seems to be none. We, like everyone else, regularly have a difficult time dealing with a God who, on the one hand, is supposed to be loving and kind, yet on the other hand, allows seemingly innocent people to suffer.
I have spent enough time in the ministry to learn to keep a respectful silence in the face of tragedy. More often than you think there is nothing to say in the face of awful disease or a sudden death. Often I have found that the best thing one can do at times like this is to be there. Be with them, be for them and just be present when life goes wrong.
Good Friday is perhaps the best time of the year to speak of these things. The events of this day some 2000 years ago speak of evil, tragedy and sorrow. Jesus is arrested on trumped-up charges and then hauled off to be executed in a long, painful, and humiliating way. And the questions that were asked that day we still ask today. “Why?” Why did this happen? Why did God allow it? Why didn’t God do something to stop it?
Even Jesus asks the question. You know the scripture, “My God, My God, why - why have you forsaken me?”
Good Friday does not allow for easy answers does it? To face the cross is to face our worst fears - fears that life is meaningless, full of failure, suffering and death. And if Good Friday were all there were, then we as Christians would be the most depressed and depressing people on Earth. But we know Good Friday is not the whole story is it? We know that there is a resurrection Sunday. It is a day of victory. We call it Easter.
And so on Good Friday we can ask God the big questions about really bad things. But we must also ask God about the good things as well. Why joy? Why hope? Why eternal life? Why victory?
Contrary to what you might think, especially at hard times, God isn’t angry when we ask “Why”. But His answer to us may not come in a day or two. His answers take imagination, love and most of all faith to understand. And they seem to defy all reason - and all explanation. But that’s the way God works, isn’t it?
And so we go on with each day. Some full of sorrow and pain. But others full of joy and surprise. And we call this process life - because that’s what it is. And we look to the future with hope, and confidence that one day there will be victory - even over death. There was for Christ Jesus – but He had to go through the suffering first and ask the same question you and I ask – “Why?”