Summary: There are two types of Dying to God’s will
Good Friday Sermon
“The Tomb Speaks of Death”
Mark 14:32-36, 15:34
For the body of Jesus, Good Friday ends in a tomb. The lips of the tomb, the mouth through which the cold body of Jesus was passed, speaks to us. The tomb has two messages. One is of death, the other is of life beyond death. The message of life beyond death is not a fable, a fabrication, a pie-in-the sky hope, a grasping for straws.
It is real; more concrete than the air we breath or the floor under our feet. Yet life beyond death is the Easter message spoken by the empty tomb, and tonight we are carrying the crucified body of Jesus through Good Friday.
On Good Friday the tomb speaks of death. It tells us that we are to die with Jesus. The death of Jesus began before His betrayal by Judas, before His arrest, before He stood before Pontius Pilate, before the whipping, the beating, the nails hammered into His hands and feet. The death of Jesus began in the Mount of Olives. We see Jesus beginning to die when He prays, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but Yours be done.”
Why did Jesus have to die? Why has one of our own members, Fae, been suffering set back after set back for over a year with a disease that not even the Mecca of Medicine, the Mayo clinic, can figure out? Why does Art, son of a former pastor, seem to pass from one trial into another? Harold, why did Iantha go through all of her testing? I could have a very long listed if I included everyone at Immanuel who struggles with the question of why does suffering come to the Saints of God.
If God is all powerful, and if God is all good, then why doesn’t He stop the suffering! Why doesn’t He intervene and save us the pain, the humiliation, the fear for tomorrow? Why doesn’t an all powerful and all loving God devise another way for our salvation
other than the torturous death for Jesus? “Father, if you are willing,” prays the Lord Himself, “take this cup from me.”
Why the cup? Why the suffering for Christ and the Saints? Why? Why? Why?
It’s right when we say that God is all loving. It is also right when we say that God is all powerful. Yet we like to stop with these two traits of our sovereign God. We want to neglect the third important characteristic within God’s nature. Clothed in sin, we would put aside the fact that God is also all holy. He has no evil within Himself; none whatsoever.
And let’s be clear on something else. When we say that God is all powerful, we mean that there’s nothing outside of Him that can limit God in any way. Unlimited by anything beyond Himself, God still acts according to the fulness of His nature. It cannot be said, for example, that God is so powerful that He can do something that is evil. Why? Not because something outside of God prevents God from doing evil. No, God does no evil because it is not in His nature to do evil.
When God didn’t provide an alternative to the cross for Jesus, it wasn’t because He lacked the power. No, He has all power. The only possible answer to the suffering of Jesus is that it had to be. Not because something, or some justice, outside of God was forcing God’s hand. God the Father, by His all powerful, all loving, and completely holy nature sent Christ to the cross.
Jesus began to die rightly at the Mount of Olives. He died to His own preferences. He died to what He wanted, consenting to the will of His heavenly Father. Jesus trusted that whatever lay ahead was not out of control, but resided within His Father’s total
power, unreserved love, and untainted holiness. The tomb speaks of Jesus dying rightly.
We however, can die wrongly in our bewilderment and suffering. I have seen Christians “die” when they suffer or a loved one suffers. O’ not in the body, but in the spirit. They give up on God. They conclude that God is too big or they are too small to
merit divine attention. Some who give up on God walk away into unbelief. Others continue to believe, but their spirit has been crippled–cut off at the knees. Life forever rests under the pal of death. A numbness sets in concerning God and His promises.
There are those times when we are broken down by a lingering and worsening problem. The problem can be a disease of the body or sickness within a relationship.
It can come as a financial reversal or the sudden death of someone we love and value. It comes and we don’t want the cup that we are forced to drink.