Summary: We call it "Good Friday", but on that Friday when Jesus died seemed anything but good. But with the bad, there came hope.
HOPE THROUGH THE CROSS
Area-wide Good Friday Service 2004
A. It is certainly great to see everyone here today for this area-wide combined Good Friday Service. Have
you been BLESSED by being here TODAY?
Our community has been through a lot lately with the devastating fire that destroyed half of downtown and the future closing of our high school. It is good to see our townspeople coming together, even for an hour, to focus on the HOPE that we have through Christ.
B. GOOD FRIDAY commemorates the day that Jesus our Lord and Savior was EXECUTED almost 2,000 years ago.
That day appeared rather HOPELESS to the followers of Christ who was looking to Jesus to be their EARTHLY KING. When He DIED on that cruel CROSS their HOPE was DASHED. Little did they realize that DARK, GLOOMY Friday would bring GLIMMERING HOPE for all mankind.
I. LET ME TAKE YOU BACK TO THAT FRIDAY LONG AGO – (recorded in Matthew 26 and 27)
A. Jesus comes to the Garden of Gethsemane with his closest friends Peter, James, & John, to PRAY.
Agonizing over His impending execution He tells His friends, “My soul is overwhelmed with SORROW to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Jesus is deeply DEPRESSED. LONELINESS, TORTURE, SORROW, and HUMILIATION await Him. He knows at this very moment that Judas is on his way with a mob of SOLDIERS to take Him by FORCE to Caiaphas, the High Priest, for TRIAL. He desperately needs this QUIET TIME with His Father.
1. Walking a short distance into the garden, Jesus falls face down to the ground, and begins His heart-felt request: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me . . .”
IF IT IS POSSIBLE? How many times has He told His disciples that EVERYTHING is POSSIBLE for God? In Mark’s account Jesus affirms, “Father, everything is possible for you”- Mark 14:36.
Jesus is saying, “Father, if there is any other way, don’t let me go through this HORRIBLE ORDEAL.” He knows that with God everything is POSSIBLE, and if God WILLED it He wouldn’t have to be CRUCIFIED. Yet, Jesus says, “Father, it’s not what I want, but what you want that matters.”
2. Three times He PRAYS this prayer with such INTENSITY that SWEAT from his BROW falls to the ground as great DROPS of BLOOD.
B. As Jesus leaves the GARDEN, Judas comes with a band of ARMED SOLDIERS to take Jesus to the High Priest.
Can you imagine an ARMY with WEAPONS in hand being sent to arrest one ITINERANT PREACHER? Judas knew that Jesus wouldn’t HURT anyone, yet he leads an ARMY into the garden where he knew Jesus was praying. He walks casually up to Jesus and says, “Greetings teacher,” and then KISSES Him. Jesus says
softly, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Friend? Jesus calls him a FRIEND! Doesn’t He know what the KISS is for? Doesn’t He know that Judas has just SOLD Him out for a few bucks. Oh, yes, He knew all of that, but, not even BETRAYAL could LESSEN the LOVE that Jesus had for Judas.
C. Jesus is taken to be TRIED by Caiphas the acting High Priest.
1. Talk about a KANGAROO COURT, this is it.
a. The JUSTICES are not looking for the TRUTH. They’re not out to set an INNOCENT man FREE. They are out to HANG Jesus.
They can’t find any EVIDENCE against Him, although there were many FALSE WITNESSES eager to TESTIFY. So they take the words that Jesus meant SPIRITUALLY referring to His physical body, and make it sound like He is a MADMAN out to DESTROY the TEMPLE that took YEARS to build and rebuild it in just THREE days.
To think that somebody would set out to DESTROY the SACRED TEMPLE of God, would cause greater fury among the Jews than has the destruction of the TWIN TOWERS in New York City among the American people.
b. Jesus didn’t give an answer to the charges at first, not until the “High Priest made Him swear on the name of God if He was the Christ.” “Yes,” He said emphatically, “it is as you say.”
Now, Caiaphas had the EVIDENCE he needed. This ITINERANT PREACHER—this lowly CARPENTER—this BLASPHEMER claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Caiaphas asks, “What shall we do with Him?” And the people cry out, “He’s worthy of DEATH!”
2. Then the PHYSICAL ABUSE and TORTURE began.
How many of you saw the movie The Passion of the Christ? If Jesus went through even half of what that MOVIE depicts, I just don’t know how He could have withstood it.
Jesus stands HELPLESSLY with His hands BOUND behind Him as the MOB of people begin to MOCK and SPIT upon Him. Unsuspectingly, someone HITS Him from BEHIND--it’s one of the GUARDS. Jesus falls to the ground, and the guard stands Him on His feet again and then PUNCHES Him in the STOMACH. A VOICE from the crowd cries out, “He says He is the Christ. See if He can PROPHESY.” Another guard takes a KERCHIEF and roughly BLINDFOLDS Jesus. Then someone starts BEATING Jesus about the face with his FISTS. Another SLAPS Him. “PROPHESY to us Christ, who HIT you?” ROARING LAUGHTER can be heard from the CROWD as Jesus is STRUCK with a few more BLOWS to the FACE.