Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Good Friday?"

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once preached at a ‘good Friday’ service and afterwards a man came up to him and asked, “Why do you call it ‘Good’ Friday when that horrible thing happened? After a discussion Lloyd-Jones concluded that the man had misunderstood the cross! Evidently the man did not think that the cross was actually necessary.

Read Mark 8:27–33 (NIV84) So Jesus and his disciples were moving through the villages around Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ. After warning his disciples not to tell this to people, Jesus told them how the ‘Son of Man’ MUST SUFFER many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. But Peter rebuked Jesus, until Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan!
Jesus plainly told that the ‘Son of Man’ must suffer many things and that he must be killed (8:31). Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand this because to them and everyone else at that time, a Messiah who suffers and dies was a failed Messiah. Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah but he didn’t understand the need for the cross. This is why Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. When Peter rebuked Jesus saying, “this will never happen to you” but Jesus rebukes Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! In other words, the denial of the cross is a satanic lie. The cross is absolutely necessary! This is also seen in the story of Jesus in the ‘garden of Gethsemane’ as well (Mark 14:32-42). 
The Story of Gethsemane from Mark 14:32–42 
Jesus and his disciples went to Gethsemane, where they sat while Jesus prayed. Jesus took Peter, James and John and he told them that he was so sorrowful that he could die. They were to keep watch while Jesus went a little further and fell down and prayed. Then Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but your will be done!” Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Jesus said, “Peter, couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more Jesus went away and prayed that if possible his Father might take the cup away from him, but not his will but the Father's will be done. Again Jesus returned and found his disciples sleeping and they didn’t know what to say to Jesus. Returning a third time, Jesus told his sleepy disciples that now the hour had come for him to be turned over into the hands of sinners. That the Father did not respond tells us that it was impossible to avoid the cross. Evidently the plan of God to save the world and redeem sinners required the cross and there was no other way. Almighty God could not save sinners apart from the cross!

Mark’s Crucifixion Story (Mark 15:16–39).
The whole company of soldiers gathered around Jesus. These soldiers would have resented the Jewish revolutionaries and so they must have taken their frustrations out on the powerless Jesus. They mockingly put a purple robe normally reserved for nobility and a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. They fell on their knees saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” They spit on him and beat him repeatedly. Then when they were done mocking him they put his clothes back on him and led Jesus out to be crucified. They forced Simon of Cyrene, a Jewish pilgrim from North Africa, to help the battered Jesus to carry the cross on which he would be crucified.  They took Jesus to Golgotha, the ‘Place of the Skull’. At nine in the morning Jesus was crucified. They offered Jesus a form of drugged wine but he refused. The soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothes and they cast lots for them. The charge written on the cross against Jesus said ‘KING OF THE JEWS’. He was crucified between two rebels, one on his right and one on his left. 

Those who passed by Jesus as he hung naked on the cross insulted him. They shook their heads claiming that if Jesus was going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days then he should save himself. In actuality they had misunderstood Jesus’ claims (John 2:19, Mark 13:2). Then the chief priests and the teachers of the law also insulted Jesus by acknowledging that he saved others, but that he couldn’t save himself. They claimed that if Jesus came down from the cross then they would believe that he was Israel’s king. But as the Christ he had come to conquer sin and death by embracing it on the cross. Even the thieves crucified beside Jesus hurled their insults at Jesus.

The story of the crucifixion is a sad story that is set in a dark place, Golgotha, the place of the skull. Darkness even engulfed the whole land from noon until 3 in the afternoon (Mark 15:33). The Roman battalion (600 men) mocked Jesus ‘hailing him as the king of the Jews’ while beating and spitting on him. Those in the crowd mocked him saying he claimed to destroy and rebuild the temple but that he was powerless to save himself. For the religious leaders he would have to come down from the cross and save himself if he was Israel’s true king. He was treated shamefully, and he looked like a weak and pathetic character that was ridiculed by those who were crucified beside him.  

It was a ‘sad day’ when Jesus who had been betrayed by a friend was abandoned by his disciples. Now only the women who followed him and cared for his needs were there watching from a distance. Ironically, it was only a Roman centurion who heard Jesus cry, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ and confessed that he was ‘the son of God’. But the worst thing of all that Jesus faced was being ‘utterly forsaken’ by his own heavenly Father! Yet, despite all that he faced Jesus clung faithfully to his confession, “My God, My God”. That Friday was a dark day, it was a sad day, and it was an evil thing what happened there on that dark day! So why do we call it ‘Good Friday’? The reason we call Friday good is… SUNDAY! 

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