The Light and the Darkness
The Light and the Darkness
Good Friday Service
We are here to observe Good Friday, which marks the day Jesus died on the cross. It is a day focused on his death. You may be unsure how to act (happy, sad?).
Good Friday service is awkward because we are gathering not just to remember someone but to specifically remember their death, and the details of it. Who else do we gather to remember someone who died and say let’s recite and reenact every detail. This points to the uniqueness of who Christ is and what he did.
Good Friday also reminds us of another thing that we don’t like to discuss, that there is evil in the world. Jesus is completely innocent and yet endures slander, mistreatment, and unjust condemnation. There is evil and darkness and death in the world.
We are going to read the account of Jesus’ death. It is gruesome. You would not want your kids to watch a video of a person being crucified. It would put their gory video games to shame. Some of this may be uncomfortable, but we are also going to see there is a purpose to the suffering that Jesus went through.
But one thing Scripture and Good Friday show us is that on this day of darkness and death, light overcomes the darkness. It prevails. We know that through the death and crucifixion of Jesus.
We are going to read the account of Jesus being handed over to be crucified. We read about the evil they did to him. And as we see that evil we see the light and goodness of Jesus overcoming the darkness. In his death he completes his lifework.
So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:16-30 ESV)
We live in a world that is good, beautiful, kind, but we also know there is evil in the world. The Bible makes this clear. It is on full display now.
Betrayal. Jesus is “Handed over,” given to another means betrayal. He is betrayed by one of his own disciples for a few pieces of silver, handed over. Now Jesus is handed over by the authorities to be crucified. Justice is denied him. They only want to pacify the people for their own political interest, cannibalistic desire of gaining by devouring another person.
Vindictiveness; Crucifixion was on of the most brutal forms of capital punishment ever invented. It killed people through a long, agonizing suffocation. Plastered to a tree for all to see so everyone would know don’t mess with Rome. It was done to send a clear message, you better think twice about breaking that law.
Rejection: He has been beaten, flogged, crowned with thorns and mocked, and now he is forced to carry his own cross. He is condemned. He is alone.
Callousness. Bartering his belongings. They divided up his belongings. Cold and heartless. Careless to his innocence. A man dying and all you are concerned about is what you can gain from it. Callousness to one suffering. Cast lots for his linen garment. Don’t rip it, then it is not worth as much.
Indifference: When Jews came to Pilate to ask him to have the sign read he claimed to be king of the Jews” rather than “the king of the Jews.” Pilate in complete indifference says,
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
Deprivation. Jesus thirsts. A sign of weakness. King David once thirsted and his valiant soldiers risked their lives crossing enemy lines to get him a drink of water. Jesus thirsts and those around him don’t even stop their bartering to notice. The one who worked miracles, healed diseases, made the lame walk, with a word calmed storms and waves, but he can’t even get a drink of water. He is largely silent. Allows the evil.
All of the darkness we see on display in the most heinous act of human history, the execution of the only holy and sinless man the world has ever known, that darkness also resides in our heart. The indifference, the vindictiveness, callousness, morbidity, pride, hate, jealousy.
The problem is not just out there, it is inside of us. There back! Poltergeist. It’s back. It’s here.
Death. Place of the skull. Death. Human death. Wrong. A massive wrong, a wrong that will cost you your life kind of wrong. Jesus dies. Death is the just punishment of rejecting God.
Darkness is all around. But it will not overcome. We see that in this passage. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. (Joh 1:5 CSB)
All of this occurred in order to “fulfill the Scriptures.” There is purpose. Where evil intends to destroy the plans of God it instead brings about his purpose. God’s purposes prevail and his power is seen to be even greater, because it overcomes the intention of evil.
Jesus is silent. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:21 NIV). He does not retaliate in kind with what they did to him. He does not spew anger and vengeance. This is the purpose he came for. He suffers in full trust of God.
Jesus loves. At the brink of death and his concern is for those around him. Here is your son. Here is your mother. In the last moments of his life his concern is not to get even with his enemies. It is not to destroy them. It is to care for his mother and friends. He entrusts his mother to the care of a dear friend. She comes to be a part of the family of this disciple. Another act of selfless love.
The disciple takes her in as his own. He follows Jesus.
Jesus honors God. He displays an unwavering commitment to God. Even the things he does at this point are done to honor and fulfill Scripture. He is obedient to the father even to the point of shedding his own blood. That is commitment. You have had it hard. You don’t have anything compared to him.
Obedient to the end. Finished. Telos. 1) as completing something, bring to an end, conclude, complete ( MT 7.28); (2) as obeying a rule or ritual carry out, fulfill, perform ( LU 2.39);
HIs last words are: It is finished. The last words of Jesus. He breathes his last. The last sigh of defeat. I’m done. It’s over. I have failed. Or perhaps It is finished. The words of a completed purpose.
His work is finished. With the bowing of his head he has done everything he came to do. He has lived in perfect obedience to the father. He did not shrink from death. Actively obeyed all that he was called to do. Now he bows his head and trusts the father to do what only the Father can do. To vindicate a righteous man. The Father will not allow the darkness to overcome. This leads to that first Easter morning and the hope of resurrection life.
The Light overcomes the darkness, and it means you can overcome your darkness, too. Jesus is obedient. He does not give in to the evil one even in the most difficult situation imaginable.
- They will look at the One they pierced. (Joh 19:37 CSB)
The reason we remember his beatings, his abandonment, his condemnation is that he is not suffering for his sin, but he is suffering for our mistakes. The hurt, the pain, the abandonment, the judgment is what we deserve for our sin.
[But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa 53:5 NIV)
We find healing in his death. We find peace. He bore our punishment. We can be set free.
People will say the crucifixion is too much. It’s too gory. It’s too bloody. How could God allow this. And yet they beat themselves up the rest of their life for things they have done wrong. They don’t know how to forgive themselves or others.
Saw an article by a popular psychologist called the miracle of forgiveness. It was not Christian, but the author recognized how hard it is to forgive others.
Unforgiveness eats your soul. The never-ending cycle of resentment and revenge can be stilled. If Jesus forgave us we don’t consume ourselves with paying other people back for the wrongs they have done to us.
Carolyn Ross in Psychology Today. Possibly one of the most powerful and miraculous forms of forgiveness is SELF-forgiveness. Being unforgiving to yourself may seem like just a case of having “high standards.’ However, this leads to low self-esteem, self-hatred and self-defeating behaviors such as addictions, overeating, eating disorders, self-harm.
We need to hear it is finished! We look to him. The punishment is paid. He came to lay down his life as a payment for sin and he has done that.
The resurrection teaches that his sacrifice was accepted. His work is truly finished, it is accomplished, salvation and forgiveness and belonging can now be had because he suffered, he was abandoned, he was punished. We are set free, we can belong, we are rewarded.
When the voices say you are a screw up, you are a failure. We need to remember that that sin was nailed to the cross. It has been crucified. We can be forgiven. It is finished.
We look to him.
- When darkness rears its ugly head and to say you are unworthy you need to tell yourself “it is finished.”
- When satan says you are not worthy, you need to say it is finished.
- When the hurt from others makes you want to retaliate in kind you need to tell yourself it is finished.
- When you think you need to keep doing more to make everything right you need to tell yourself it is finished. Jesus accomplished salvation. The penalty is paid. He was separated that I might be brought near. His death is for me!
- When we don’t know what to do we look to him!
We are going to observe communion today. Communion is a meal of remembrance that Jesus instituted on the night he was betrayed. It was for his followers. It points to his work of dying on the cross and shedding his blood.
The death of Jesus exposes our own evil. Every time we reject God it is as though we are putting a nail in the arms of Jesus. But it also shows us the amazing love of God. He died for our sins. He took the punishment. He paid the penalty. He did this that you could be forgiven. That you could be set free. Will you keep nailing him to the cross, and putting nails in your own soul by rejecting his sacrifice. In his death he loved you. He took care of your needs.
Happy good Friday! Many people wonder why the death of Jesus is commemorated on a day called “Good Friday.” There is some debate on how this name came to be. Some think the word “good” originally meant “holy” or “pious” and in the course of time these meanings were lost but the name stayed. Others have thought the original meaning was “God’s Friday” and later changed. While the origin of the name is uncertain, it still fits because as brutal as the death of Jesus was, his death stands as the culmination of God’s plan to deliver people from sin and all that is wrong in the world. The greatest good triumphs out of one the greatest acts of evil.