It’s Good Friday 2020, and because of isolation and lockdown, we are having church online.  Come and join us for a great message this Good Friday…

See you on zoom for virtual fellowship afterwards.

Easter 2020 will be remembered based around the worldwide scourge we are facing of the corona virus. For the first time in centuries Christians are not able to meet together the celebrate Good Friday, but through e wonder of modern media, we can still meet.

 

For years we have said the church isn’t a building, it’s the people, and now praise God we have the chance to prove it! Today we can meet in virtual space using our devices, but that first Easter there was nothing virtual at all about what Jesus set out to do on the cross.

 

Today is Good Friday, and even if you are physically alone and isolated, it doesn’t make Good Friday any less good, and it doesn’t lesson the love Jesus has for you, or what He did so long ago for you. So let’s get straight to looking at the cross, which is more than just a symbol.

 

Paul said,

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV Strong’s)

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

THE MOTIVE FOR THE CROSS

 

Why the cross? Why do we even need the cross? It all starts with love, and God loves you so much. His love for you motivates what we will study today. Yet mankind has rejected God and pursued their own desires. People are basically selfish… They put themselves first, as we have seen in this pandemic with the run on toilet paper.

 

Rejecting God’s claim on our lives is called sin. Sin isn’t just doing bad things, it’s not giving God His rightful place in our lives, and we all do it.

 

Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong’s)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

All of us, you, me, everybody. The penalty is death…

 

Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong’s)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Not just physical death, the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in hell. We all deserve hell, but this is where God’s motive comes in… He sent His Son to die in our place, instead of us.

 

Why? Because He loves you.

 

THE MISSION OF THE CROSS

 

Jesus was a man in a mission.

 

Philippians 2:5-8

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

Jesus is God, yet He chose to give that up and come to earth as a humble man, being obedient by going to die on the cross. He gave up the riches of Heaven to come to earth and die in our place.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

I should have been hanging on that cross, you should have been. But He chose to substitute Himself for us, to give His life for ours. He experienced what we should have to give us what we never deserved… the chance to be right with God, and have eternal life.

 

THE ROAD TO THE CROSS

 

So Jesus decided to come to earth and live a perfect life, with the expressed purpose of giving it up for you and me. He loves us so much!

 

The road to the cross was an exceptionally hard one. He was betrayed by a close friend. Some of you here have experienced that, where a supposed friend has let you down or betrayed you. Jesus understands because it happened to Him.

 

He was then unjustly accused, and unjustly convicted. Many of you have been unjustly accused of something you have not done, and He understands that too because that is exactly what happened to Him.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

He was whipped, beaten, spat upon and mocked by cruel soldiers.  They placed a crown of thorns on His head, with thorns longer than a man’s fingers, and mocked Him, driving those spikes into His head with blow after blow. They tore the beard from His face? They mocked and beat Him.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

God was spat upon and abused by puny man! Jesus could have stopped the abuse at any time, but He chose to remain silent. He had the power, but He didn’t have the purpose because His purpose was far greater.

 

So Jesus was beaten to within an inch of His life. The Bible says His back was like a plowed field. The Romans had refined cruelty and pain to the point of science. They called such a whipping the halfway death, and for a whip they used a cat of nine tails, with stone, bone and bits of metal embedded into the leather. When they struck the sharp objects would embed into His back, being torn as they were pulled away.

 

Unbelievable pain, that He could have stopped at any moment… but He chose not to.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

Matthew 27:30-31

And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

 

Jesus was not a weakling, He was a strong and fit man. He had walked for miles in His ministry without effort. They placed the cross beam on His shoulders, and because of the beating He struggled to carry it. As the soldiers drove Him down the via de la rose, the way of sorrows, Jesus collapsed. Matthews 27:32 says they compelled a man from Cyrene to carry His cross. Most likely he was a black man. Scriptures record that a black man helped Jesus in His need.

 

And so they led Him to the cross. We put crosses on churches, around our necks and write songs about the cross, but nothing can convey the horror of that place.

 

THE AGONY OF THE CROSS

 

And so they came to the place of the Skull, or Golgotha, and it was there that they crucified Jesus. The cross wasn’t really on a hill faraway, it was the base of that hill, on a well used road which today is an Arab bus stop.

 

They laid the cross member down and secured it to the rest of the cross. They then held out His quivering hands and drove massive nails, much like what they secure railway sleepers with, through His wrist. If they went through His hands the flesh would tear, but through His wrists and ankles the body would be pinned in agony to the cross. They they raised it up and dropped it into the socket in the ground. Imagine the jarring pain!

 

And there He hung in agony. He could have called down a legion of angels to remove Him from the cross, but Jesus chose not to. He hung there in unbelievable agony.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

The cross wasn’t high at all, it was more or less just above eye level. People could almost look straight into the eyes of Jesus as He hung there in agony. People passing by mocked and insulted Him…

 

Matthew 27:42

“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.

 

The soldiers offered Him wine mixed with gall, a pain killing drug, but Jesus even in intense agony refused the drugs. He could have dulled the pain, but He chose to bear it all for us.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

The cross was an almost perfect instrument of torture. On the cross you die of suffocation. Jesus pushed His body up on the spikes, but the unbelievable pain drove Him into unconsciousness. He then slumped collapsing His lungs, but the need for oxygen revived Him and made Him push up again despite the unbearable pain to breathe.

 

The Latin or Roman word for crucifixion is CRUCIERE, from which we get the English word, excruciating, meaning intense, unbearable pain. Jesus suffered for 3 hours in this excruciating pain under the intense heat of a Palestinian sun before God said enough, and covered the world in a supernatural darkness.

 

Jesus continued to suffer for another 3 hours in ways we cannot begin to understand. He could have stopped the pain at any point, but He chose not to.

 

Why? Because He loves you!

 

THE CLIMAX OF THE CROSS

 

After 6 tortuous, agonising hours,

Matthew 27:46

Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

My God the Father, my God the Holy Spirit, why have you forsaken me?

 

At that point God turned away from His beloved Son. In those moments a holy God, who will not look upon sin, saw your sin and my sin upon the shoulders of Jesus, and He rejected His only Son. At that moment Jesus took our sin upon Himself and the Father rejected Him instead of us, opening the way for us to stand sinless before Him.

 

Then it says this…

Matthew 27:50

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

 

Jesus slumped, dead on that cross. They ultimately didn’t take His life, He yielded it. He could have stopped it at any time, but Jesus yielded His life and pain for your sin and my sin.

 

Why? Because He loves us.

 

They took His body down from the cross and buried it in a fresh tomb.

 

THE RESPONSE TO THE CROSS

 

There were 3 soldiers crucifying Jesus that day, and I’m sure they had several reactions.

 

One was a materialist. The Bible says they gambled for Jesus’ cloak. It was a rabbis coat, all one piece, the only seams were around the arms. It was valuable. This soldier just got what he wanted, a good coat, nothing more.

 

The second was a soldier who thrust his sword into the heart of Jesus, and ripped it out, causing a flow of blood and water, showing Jesus was truly dead. His experience was one of hatred and anger towards Jesus. Some of you here might be angry that God hasn’t done what you wanted. Thus man trampled the blood, the precious blood of Jesus underfoot.

 

Today across out nation people will be thinking about a day off, about hot cross buns and Easter eggs , and tread with contempt the precious blood of Jesus into the red soil.

 

The third man was a centurion. A leader…

 

Mark 15:39

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 

YOUR RESPONSE TO THE CROSS

 

What are you going to say this morning to this One who died for you? Are you out to get as much as you can from Him? Are you angry or upset at Him, or even ignoring Him? Don’t tread His blood underfoot this morning. Why not be like the centurion, why not truly acknowledge and believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be… the Son of God, who died for your sin, and who paid the price to win you eternal life.

 

Why? Because He loves us.

 

This morning we concentrate on the cross, but join us again on Sunday when we are going to look at the triumph of Resurrection.

 

When you consider the cross, how will you respond this Good Friday. Get right with Him, and make this Good Friday the best Friday.

 

Maybe you’re isolated right now so that in the silence and loneliness of this moment you can stop and do business alone with God. There are no people around you, no church building, no friends… It’s just you and the One who dies for you. Take time now, look Him in the eyes. How will you respond?

 

This year more than ever before we are embroiled in a climate of fear. It’s time to nail your fears to the cross.  I can’t remember so much fear among normally calm and rational people.

 

Write down your greatest ear right now, and we are going to pray, give it to Jesus, the share communion together.

 

And if you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, it’s time to do it. Right now!

About Darin

Pastor Darin Browne is the Senior Pastor of Coast Church in Woombye, Queensland. He is an international speaker and worship leader and has toured all over the world, produced 8 albums and authored several books.