Good Friday ~ 20150403 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
04/03 Good Friday Message; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20150403_good-friday.mp3
We are here this Good Friday to commemorate a crucifixion. The Romans crucified a lot of people. Criminals. Murderers. Rebels. In 4 BC, after the death of Herod the Great, Quintilius Varus crucified about 2000 insurgents in Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant., 17:295). The Romans were crucifying around 500 people per day during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Josephus, Wars, 5; 11). Three men were crucified on the day we are commemorating, but our focus is on only one, Jesus. Why? What is so important about this one execution, that we are gathering to remember it more than 2000 years later?
It has everything to do with who this was. Mark's gospel records the words of one of the soldiers who carried out his execution.
The crucifixion of Jesus has a back-story. Another holiday, Christmas, commemorates the birth of this Jewish Rabbi. The unique thing about Jesus was that he claimed to come from somewhere else. He was born to an unwed virgin mother in a cave used for sheltering animals, but he said 'before Abraham was, I AM' (John 8:58). Jesus claimed uniquely to have been sent. He said:
Paul's letter to the church in Colossae describes the identity of Jesus, the Son of God.
The author of Hebrews describes Jesus this way:
The message of Christmas is that Jesus is Eternal God come in human flesh. Jesus is the only Son of the Father, the second person of the one triune God.
But Good Friday tells us why he came. He came to die. Christmas is merely the necessary prelude to Good Friday. Jesus said
Death is not a normal part of human existence. Death is a result of the disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve. “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Death is a direct consequence of rebellion against God. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But Jesus never sinned. So Jesus, both fully God and fully human, did not have to die. He had no sin to pay for. But he came to die. He came to pay for my sin. For your sin. He came to pay the debt that I owe, so that I do not have to spend eternity separated from a good God who loves me. The historical fact is that Jesus was crucified. The theological life transforming truth is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1Cor.15:3)
John tells us:
Jesus was the substitute sacrifice who fully satisfied the just wrath of a holy God against my sin.
Jesus died because I was dead. He died to give me life.
Jesus reconciles me to the Father, “making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col.1:20).
Why was Jesus, an innocent man, condemned? He was condemned, so that I, a guilty sinner, could be declared innocent. Why was he scourged? So that 'with his stripes we are healed' (Is.53:5). Why did he wear the crown of thorns? So that we might wear the crown of glory. Why was he stripped of his clothes? So that we might be clothed in his own perfect righteousness (Is.61:10). Why was he forsaken by his Father? So that we might enjoy unbroken communion and fellowship with the Father. Why was he unable to save himself? So that he could save us completely. Why was the Prince of Peace brutally executed? In order to bring us peace with God. Why did he die? So that we could truly live.*
*(adapted from J.C.Ryle Expository Thoughts on Matthew, cited in 'Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross', Guthrie, p.58-59)
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org