Home > Uncategorized > Message for Good Friday Evening

Message for Good Friday Evening

This message was give at the evening service on Good Friday.

The message can be heard by clicking here.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

John gives us details that some of the other Gospel writers don’t tell us.  John is the only one who tells us about the spear and the soldiers’ reason for using it.  John is the one who tells us, no, more specifically, testifies like a court witness, about the blood and water coming from the spear wound in Jesus side.  And all of it, the details, the specifics, the whole of the account told so that we too might believe.  That we might believe, a.) that it really happened just as they report it and, b.) that we might believe Jesus did these things for us and for our salvation.

It was the day of preparation, says John.  This was a Jewish vocabulary for the day before sunset of Sabbath.  The Jews would have been prepping not only for the Sabbath but a special Sabbath because of the Passover celebrations.  And so it is today, Friday.  And because it was about to be a special Sabbath, the Jews had asked that the bodies of the executed not be left on the crosses.  There is a command from God in Deuteronomy that says those executed of capital offense should not be left overnight on the hanging tree.  The Romans however, were somewhat famous for leaving the bodies of their executed in place as a instrument of terror as scavengers did what they do.  It was a concession to the Jewish people they ruled as occupiers that they allowed them in this case and in others to remove the bodies and bury them.

From about the middle of the 1800s, some Bible scholars suggested that the Gospel writers were overly dramatic in describing Roman crucifixion practices.  After all, it’s hard to conceive such inhumanity.  The 20th century’s evidence of man’s inhumanity toward fellow man, notwithstanding, recently found archeological evidence corroborates the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion.  This leg breaking was itself a brutal form of punishment that would have caused incredible pain and would have hastened death.[1]  With broken legs, the victim would not be able to hold himself upright to take a breath and would have hastened the asphyxiation which was the usual cause of death by crucifixion.

They broke the legs of the first and then of the other who hung on the crosses beside Jesus.  Why they avoided Jesus, John doesn’t say.  Maybe they were afraid.  Matthew reports the centurion in charge of the detail was terrified.  When they approached Jesus, they found He was already dead.  But these are Roman soldiers.  There must not be any doubt.  And so they pushed a spear into Jesus’ side and out flowed a rush of blood and water.  Jesus had died.  The blood that flowed was not in the body but from his ruptured heart that mixed with the water that had collected in His lungs from asphyxiation.  Jesus was truly dead.  Roman soldiers know how to carry out orders for execution.  There is no doubt about that.

But John seems to go much further than simply reporting the fact that Jesus had died.  He makes a special point of testifying to the blood and the water flowing from Jesus’ side.  He links this event to two prophesies from the Old Testament, one is a link to the instructions about the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 and Numbers 9, and the other from the prophet Zechariah, chapter 12.

Every year we hear this account and no doubt after so many years of attending Good Friday services you’ve heard the facts I’ve mentioned tonight as a way of opening up the account of Jesus’ death on the cross.  We’ve gone a little further than John does to explain what was happening so that we understand.  All four Gospel writers do not really focus on the excruciating pain Jesus endured.  We’ve highlighted that just for information’s sake because we are so far removed from the brutality of that world.  And because these are some of the facts that are questioned by critics today, whether they are Muslims who deny Jesus really died or Bible scholars who deny the authenticity of what are clearly eye-witness reports.  It’s not a new challenge to the faith but it is a revived one.

The fact that Jesus died and was buried is a cornerstone of our faith.  We confess it every week in the creeds.  Its why we use the creeds the way we do.  That fact is born out by the testimony of eyewitnesses, among them, John who saw the blood and water with his own eyes.  He needed to be there to see it all even if he didn’t understand what it was he was seeing.  In fact, even over the next two days he continued to see things and still not quite understand, even when he saw the spot where the grave clothes laid but the body of Jesus was not there.  And it’s not really John’s or even Peter’s or the women’s fault.  Nobody, in no society, or culture, or religion, up that point could understand someone being thoroughly dead on a Friday afternoon, hastily prepared for burial and laid in a tomb, and then alive again by Sunday morning with a life so thoroughly vibrant death can’t touch it.  Some would say that Jesus hadn’t really died.  That’s been the case even since the days of Peter and John.  Some said, and still say, Easter morning they saw a ghost, or a spirit, or experienced a mass hallucination and continued to do so for 40 days until they all mass hallucinated as they saw Jesus ascend into heaven.  That starts falling apart pretty quickly doesn’t it?

These things really happened.  And not only did they really happen, they happened just as they were prophesied to happen.  “Not one of his bones shall be broken,” and they shall look on him whom they have pierced.  Jesus was the Passover Lamb.  That’s clear.  The second prophecy from Zechariah is a little more complex.  The prophet foretold a coming time of great suffering for Jerusalem out of which God would deliver them.  And on the day of that deliverance, says the Lord through His prophet, “there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.”  (Zec 13:1)

What the Romans did in cruelty, God has delivered to you in His mercy.  Behold Him whom they pierced.  John saw it with his own two eyes that you may believe.  Jesus hung dead on the cross is the fountain of cleansing and forgiveness; it literally has gushed forth from His side, water and blood poured out for you.  Amen.

[1] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/crucifixion/a-tomb-in-jerusalem-reveals-the-history-of-crucifixion-and-roman-crucifixion-methods/

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: