Summary: A Good Friday Sermon
Matthew 27: 33-50
Luke 23: 34-48
"And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ’I am the Son of God.’" And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah." And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit." Matthew 27:33-50, RSV.
"And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, "Certainly this man was innocent!" And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts." Luke 23:34-48, RSV.
A word from the Cross: Jesus said,
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Forgive them, Father? For what? For nailing Him to a Cross? For spitting at Him and mocking Him and laughing at Him? Well, why not?
But who were His chief accusers? Why, His own people.!! The Jews!! They did not know what they were doing? How could they not know?? They had the scripture. They had God’s promise that a Messiah would come. But selfishly, they chose to reject Him. They chose to ignore what their own holy words told them. Oh, yes, they knew very well what they were doing.
And today, can we be as Christ and forgive the wrongs others have done to us? Now on this Good Friday, we hear and can visualize that forgiveness from the cross. Christ forgave, can we forgive when we are hurt, humiliated, wronged, scared with the unkindness of another, be it a member of the family, or a total stranger. Can we forgive?
Does our forgiveness reach out from our cross and encircle those who have hurt us? Each hurt, each pain, each broken relationship, each moment of loneliness, each moment of sorrow, each moment of guilt, each moment of hatred, each moment of selfish living, nails us to a cross by those who hurt us. And the reverse is true, also. We can be nailed to a cross by the nails of others self-centeredness, and we can use those same nails to drive into someone else as we nail them to their crosses by our own self-centeredness. There is a lot of nail pounding going on in this world by all kinds of people, BUT is there forgiveness, too???