A Good Friday Sermon

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At Jubilee Church I preached yesterday’s sermon.  Here are some notes from the sermon with some extra material woven in.

Earlier today on Twitter somebody asked why people would wish each other a “happy” Good Friday. It begs the question why we even call the day “good.”  But many Christians have a real tendency to celebrate even on the day their Lord died. Why is this? It is in part because we know the end of the story!  As the old preacher once said “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a-comin’!” But it was not as though Jesus died and then was in defeat until he rose again. The cross itself marked a great victory! He boldly declared “IT IS FINISHED… bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). And on that day, death died as the son of man expired! So much so that the temple curtain was ripped in two from top to bottom, indicating the way into the Holy of Holies was now open, and tombs around Jerusalem were emptied as many rose from the dead!  So, we celebrate his death, but we must at the same time face the horrific nature of it.

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:3-12)

1. THE SUFFERING OF JESUS

  • The one who made us was rejected by men and wounded by the Romans who pierced his hands and feet. As John puts it, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:11). It is staggering to think that Jesus, who we now see as the most beautiful and lovely was ‘despised and rejected’ to such an extent.
  • The one who was anointed with Joy above all others now experienced intolerable sorrow.  Jesus was not known to this point as a man of sorrows, but rather was full of joy, as the Scripture says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions (Hebrews 1:9). But when real grief hits, it is like the oxygen is sucked out of the air. He who had rejoiced at his Father’s side as Creation sprang into being and knew ecstasy like we cannot imagine plumbed the very depths of human despair. Nobody has been more depressed than he was on the cross. He became “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
  • The Beloved of his Father now experienced punishment from him instead from him things he would never imagined.  It was by God that he was, ‘stricken, smitten, afflicted, crushed, and chastised.‘   The weight of the agony this caused was greater than the physical pain. But we see in verse 10 the most shocking thing of all, “it was the will of God to crush him, he has put him to grief.”  It was only because it was the Father’s will that Jesus submitted himself to this terrible experience, crying out in the garden “not my will but yours be done!” Such words should shock even the hardest of hearts, but worse still some translations render this “it was God’s pleasure to bruise him.” It is of course only because of the results of the cross that God took pleasure in Jesus’ death.
  • The source of all life died and was buried (verse 9)

The shocking thing is that “for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2) and WE were that joy!

2. THE EFFECTS OF THE CROSS: IT WAS ALL FOR US!

“God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8). Rick Warren says, “Love is making your problem my problem. God did this with you even before you knew you had a problem!”

“The Son of God loved me and gave himself up for me!” (Gal 2:20).

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

  • He was rejected so that we could be accepted. He “made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, KJV). We are accepted by God, and we are accepted by the family of God. What a glorious thing to be in a church with people of all kinds of different backgrounds, and different nations.
  • He was sorrowful to give us joy: he “carried our sorrows” that we could know “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
  • He was punished instead  of us (v5,6)  If you feel guilty, dirty, ashamed, you can go to Jesus today: his blood cleanses the foulest of sins!  ”He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB). This subsitutionary death of Jesus vital! ”Take away the doctrine of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, and you have torn out the very heart of the gospel.” – Spurgeon
  • By his stripes we are healed. By two different occasions these verses is quoted in the NT we can see that this healing is both physical (Matthew 8:17) AND spiritual (1 Peter 2:24-25).
  • His extreme obedience countered our disobedience.  We are all like wayward sheep. We sin, and go on sinning. We “mouth off” a lot.  He on the other hand silently obeyed like a lamb being slaughtered. “All the love & acceptance which perfect obedience could’ve obtained belong to you because Christ was perfectly obedient on your behalf” – Spurgeon

3. DEATH COULD NOT HOLD HIM!

In verse 10-12  we see his days are prolonged, he has offspring (us!), he sees the results of the anguish of his soul and is satisfied, and God blesses him!  The resurrection was his justification, God’s declaration that he was not guilty. And we are “accounted righteous” through him!

“Beloved, the dying Christ has purchased for us our justification, but the risen Christ will see that we get it.” Spurgeon

No wonder Desmond Tutu said “The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof positive that love is stronger than hate, that life is stronger than death… that laughter & joy, & compassion & gentleness & truth, are so much stronger than their ghastly counterparts.” http://bit.ly/YMRFg6 

And of course this demands a response from us “our life, our soul, our all!”  Its a once for all decision, and a daily sacrifice. We come back to him each time we fall into sin and cast ourselves on his mercy. And in so doing we change.  As Spurgeon explains, the Christian has a different view of life: ”Sin gave us pleasure once, but now it gives us the utmost pain, and we desire to be free from it.”

We live our lives in eternal grattitude for what he has done.  And we live knowing that “If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart God raised him from the dead, we will be saved.” (Romans 10:8).

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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