Summary: This good Friday message speaks of the abandonment that Jesus expresses when God turns away from him. But it is loneliness that has meaning and purpose -- our salvation.
Hearing The Loneliness Of The Cross
Usually, we have the cross posted at the top. Today, we have it right up front, some place that it can not be overlooked.
On Tuesday, as the Worship Team prepared for rehearsal someone asked about the cross. It was said that it looks so much bigger sitting here.
But this evening, we don’t want to just see the cross. I want you to hear the sounds and the voices of the final moments of Christ’s life.
Movement #1 – Palm Sunday
The week began with Jesus strolling in to Jerusalem riding on a donkey. And you can hear the crowds in the streets, yelling,
"Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Save us, rescue us, deliver us!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."
Jesus had center stage and you can hear the exuberant celebration of those who lined the streets of Jerusalem. But behind the ticker tape type of atmosphere, you can faintly hear the desperation in their voices … desperation that pleads for Jesus to rise up and become their King … to overthrow the Roman oppression ... To establish himself as Messiah. You can hear what they wanted, they wanted a King, an Earthly King. Like King David of old.
But that’s not what Jesus came to do. In fact, listen to what Jesus said about himself shortly before Palm Sunday... "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Did you hear it? Did you hear who he was, what he came to do?
Movement #2 – Thursday night
But now I want us to fast forward a few days. Sunday he enters on a donkey. On Thursday he gathers his disciples, shares a final meal with them. He indicates that Judas will betray him, and then Jesus stands up and goes over to the basin. The water used by the slaves. He takes off his outer garment, kneels down at the feet of each disciple and gently washes their dirty, grimy, smelly feet. He then rises, breaks the bread and lifts the cup and you’ve already heard what he said,
"Take and eat, this is my body. Drink from it, this is my blood which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
You can almost hear the astonishment, the confusion in the disciples’ gasps as they watch and listen to Jesus. Then later that night, you can hear Jesus in the garden, lying prostrate on the ground, sweating drops of blood ... His disciples asleep. And did you hear what Jesus prayed,
”My father, if it is possible, may this cup, this suffering I am about to experience, may it be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Movement #3 – The Cross
Then came the guards, the betrayal, the arrest, the trial. It’s Friday morning, Jesus has been beaten and mocked, and now comes time for his death. I want you to hear it this evening. It’s important that we not only see the cross, we must also hear the cross.
Jesus is there. Nails in his wrists, nails in his feet. Thieves on each side of him, a crowd of women below him. An entire nation despising him, his own disciples have abandoned him. And there he is, on that cross. Can you hear him. Listen closely...
“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 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?’”
Did you hear the groan of separation, the cry of loneliness? In his moment of agony, Jesus quotes, prays Psalm 22 ... And I am convinced that what was running through his mind was more than just the first line of that prophetic Psalm. As he hung on that cross, listen to what Jesus was contemplating, listen closely... 22:1-21 from the Message.
God, God … my God!
Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
Leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praises?
We know you were there for our parents,
They cried for your help and you gave it;
They trusted and lived a good life.
And here I am, a nothing – an earthworm, something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads;
Let’s see how God handles this one; since God likes him so much, let him help him!”