Passage: John 18:1–19:42
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Isaiah 52:13–53:12: Hebrews 4:14–16; 5:7–9; John 18:1–19:42
Date: March 30th, 2018; Good Friday
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
There are two things that are made crystal clear on Good Friday.
The first is the fact that God takes sin seriously. His wrath toward sinners is real.
The sacrificial death of his Son on the cross proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The second is the fact that his love for sinners is also real.
The cross of Christ also shows the extent of his love - the price he is willing to pay to redeem us.
This is precisely why we need Good Friday.
Because it is our nature both to underestimate God’s potential for anger and wrath when it comes to our sin - and it is our nature to become uncertain about God’s love for us when things go wrong in our lives.
Even though the Scriptures are full of evidence that God hates and despises sin and punishes it - we often take his patience and his long-suffering as proof of the opposite.
We look around and see how much wickedness seems to go unchecked and unpunished in the world and in our own lives.
And the conclusion that we draw from this is that God must not be all that concerned about sin.
Our culture doesn’t offer much help.
Today, no one really likes to talk about God’s “wrath.”
This has also invaded some Christian churches and their view of God.
He is a God of love, and that is as far as some churches and teachers will go.
But on Good Friday, we can no longer look at God as someone who takes our sins lightly.
We can no longer brush off our sins as being no big deal.
We are forced to face the reality of what God thinks about sin and what it deserves.
If ever there was proof that God takes sin seriously, it was hanging there on the cross on Calvary.
It was there in the beaten, bloody, bruised, and dead body of his Son.
There God showed the world that he meant it when he said to Adam and Eve: “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
When you see Christ hanging on the tree of the cross, you are compelled to see what God really thinks of your lying; your lustful thoughts and actions; your covetous desires; your gossip; your lack of fear, love, and trust in him above all things; your tendency to put the worst construction on everyone’s words and actions; and your inclination to worry and doubt God’s love and protection.
But God did not send his Son to the cross simply to make you feel bad.
Good Friday is not a “feel sorry for Jesus” day - he willingly drank the cup of suffering for you.
What you see on the cross of Christ—what you ought to see most clearly—is the extent of his love for sinners. The extent of his love for you.
If ever there was proof of God’s love, proof of his mercy toward sinners, proof of his desire to save us - it was hanging there on Calvary.
There the holy God was taking out his wrath and anger toward your sin on his innocent and holy Son so that you would not have to face his wrath for eternity.
But you would not know this merely by looking at the cross - apart from faith that is.
It is only by divine revelation through the mouths of prophets and apostles that you know what was actually taking place on that day.
Without this, you would be like those who believed him to be “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).
You would not know simply by looking at the cross that he was “wounded for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
You would not have known, unless it had been revealed to you in God’s Word, that in Christ, “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
This is why Christ made known to his disciples the purpose of his sacrifice in the words by which he instituted the Sacrament of the Altar: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
So it is through the words of Jesus, and his inspired prophets and apostles, that you know and believe that everything that happened on Good Friday was according to God’s will.
As the Prophet Isaiah declared: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10).
Every whip, every jeer, every nail driven into the hands and feet of Jesus turned God’s fierce anger away from your sin.
And as long as we remain in Christ, as long as we remain united to him by faith - we are safe from God’s all-consuming anger toward sin and unbelief.
This is why we run to Christ when we are overcome by our sinful urges.
This is why we remember our Baptism, where God buried us and raised us with Christ.
And this is one of the reasons why there is such comfort for Christians in the Lord’s Supper.
As we receive Christ’s true body and true blood, we receive the benefits of Good Friday: pardon and acquittal for all our sins.
These things were won for you on the cross at Calvary.
God declared all sin forgiven in Christ’s death.
And this gift is graciously delivered to you, and made available to you, here and now through his Word read and preached and through tangible things like water and bread and wine connected to his Word of promise.
And since Christ has turned away the wrath of his Father toward you by his sacrificial death - now the Father turns to you not in anger - but in love!
Your merciful and faithful High Priest, Jesus Christ, has made full atonement for your sins. He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
Today, and everyday, you can breathe a sigh of relief that God’s divine judgment swept past you and landed on the innocent flesh of Jesus, his Son.
That is why we call this day “Good.”
It was good that God placed his own Son under a curse, good that the nails were driven into his flesh, good that the spear pierced his side, good that blood and water flowed from him, good that he was put to death for us.
Today is Good Friday because in what looked like defeat - our Lord is victorious.
What looked like despair - is actually the source of all hope and comfort.
What looked like the end - was actually the beginning.
What looked like death - was actually new life. Eternal life.
This is the Good News of Good Friday.
It is finished - and we now look forward to the Resurrection of our Lord. Thanks be to God! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.