Good Friday Introduction

The Last Friday before Easter

Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

This is the day we commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus said to him, “So you say.”

When he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many things they testify against you?”

He gave him no answer, not even one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the multitude one prisoner, whom they desired. They had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. But the governor answered them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do to Jesus, who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let him be crucified!”

But the governor said, “Why? What evil has he done?”

But they cried out exceedingly, saying, “Let him be crucified!”

So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it.”

All the people answered, “May his blood be on us, and on our children!”

Then he released to them Barabbas, but Jesus he flogged and delivered to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium, and gathered the whole garrison together against him. They stripped him, and put a scarlet robe on him. They braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. When they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

As they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, and they compelled him to go with them, that he might carry his cross. They came to a place called “Golgotha,” that is to say, “The place of a skull.” They gave him sour wine to drink mixed with gall. When he had tasted it, he would not drink. When they had crucified him, they divided his clothing among them, casting lots, and they sat and watched him there. They set up over his head the accusation against him written, “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Then there were two robbers crucified with him, one on his right hand and one on the left. Those who passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, “You who destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

Likewise the chief priests also mocking, with the scribes, the Pharisees, and the elders, said, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The robbers also who were crucified with him cast on him the same reproach.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of them who stood there, when they heard it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him a drink. The rest said, “Let him be. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Many women were there watching from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When evening had come, a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who himself was also Jesus’ disciple came. This man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given up. Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut out in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Matthew 27:11-60

So what does all of this mean?  First thing, a quick aside.  When Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It wasn’t despair.  It is a quote from Psalm 22 which He had just fulfilled.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

My God, I cry in the daytime, but you don’t answer;

in the night season, and am not silent.

But you are holy,

you who inhabit the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in you.

They trusted, and you delivered them.

They cried to you, and were delivered.

They trusted in you, and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm, and no man;

a reproach of men, and despised by the people.

All those who see me mock me.

They insult me with their lips. They shake their heads, saying,

“He trusts in Yahweh;

let him deliver him.

Let him rescue him, since he delights in him.”

But you brought me out of the womb.

You made me trust at my mother’s breasts.

I was thrown on you from my mother’s womb.

You are my God since my mother bore me.

Don’t be far from me, for trouble is near.

For there is none to help.

Many bulls have surrounded me.

Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.

They open their mouths wide against me,

lions tearing prey and roaring.

I am poured out like water.

All my bones are out of joint.

My heart is like wax;

it is melted within me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd.

My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

You have brought me into the dust of death.

For dogs have surrounded me.

A company of evildoers have enclosed me.

They have pierced my hands and feet.

I can count all of my bones.

They look and stare at me.

They divide my garments among them.

They cast lots for my clothing.

 But don’t be far off, Yahweh.

You are my help: hurry to help me.

Deliver my soul from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dog.

Save me from the lion’s mouth!

Yes, from the horns of the wild oxen, you have answered me.

I will declare your name to my brothers.

In the midst of the assembly, I will praise you.

You who fear Yahweh, praise him!

All you descendants of Jacob, glorify him!

Stand in awe of him, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,

Neither has he hidden his face from him;

but when he cried to him, he heard.

Of you comes my praise in the great assembly.

I will pay my vows before those who fear him.

The humble shall eat and be satisfied.

They shall praise Yahweh who seek after him.

Let your hearts live forever.

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh.

All the relatives of the nations shall worship before you.

For the kingdom is Yahweh’s.

He is the ruler over the nations.

All the rich ones of the earth shall eat and worship.

All those who go down to the dust shall bow before him,

even he who can’t keep his soul alive.

Posterity shall serve him.

Future generations shall be told about the Lord.

They shall come and shall declare his righteousness to a people that shall be born,

for he has done it. – Psalm 22

 

Now, what does Jesus’ death mean?  I have always been taught that Jesus was a sacrifice to save us from our sins.  I think it is more than that.   Let us look back at Genesis.

God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

Now God created men and women in His image.  Do we look like Him?  No.  He created us in the image of Love.  That is our true nature.  He set us to love the earth, to have dominion over Creation.  Yet the original word meant to husband, or take care of.  Another thing for you to contemplate.

Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Now the serpent was more subtle than any animal of the field which Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’”

The woman said to the serpent, “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

The serpent said to the woman, “You won’t surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate; and she gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened… Genesis 3:1-7

Couple of things here very important to Lent the season we are still in.  One, Lent is forty days long like Jesus was in the desert for forty days.  At the end of it he was tempted by Satan three times.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him into the holy city. He set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you.’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written, ‘You shall not test the Lord, your God.’”

Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. He said to him, “I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and served him.  Matthew 4:1-11

He was tempted with making stones into bread because He was hungry.  Just as Eve was tempted when she saw the fruit from the tree was good to eat.  But instead of eating as Eve did, Jesus said that God is our life not food.  Then He was tempted to test God, just as Eve tested God thinking that she wouldn’t die, but Jesus said not to test.  Because to truly love someone you never have to test it.  You just know.  The last temptation was for power, to turn aside from God and be something you are not, just as Eve wanted to be “like a god”, instead of the wonderful person she was.  It is a problem with the forgetting that you are complete with God, if you have God you don’t need anything.  That was why Jesus did not succumb to the temptation of power for He knew God alone was worthy of worship.

It has long been a tradition that the Tree of Knowledge was an apple tree.  This is very symbolic because as soon as Eve and Adam ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge their eyes were opened.  They knew what they had done.  If you cut an apple horizontally in half you will see that the seeds form a five pointed star.  The symbol of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the symbol the five wounds of Christ at His death.

Yahweh God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand, and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” Therefore Yahweh God sent him out from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed Cherubs at the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.  Genesis 3:22-24

This was when the Crucifixion truly started.  Adam and Eve were not banished from the garden as punishment.  No.  It was to stop them from eating from the Tree of Life because if they ate from the Tree of Life, their sin would be on them forever.  There would be no chance at redemption.  He sent us out from the garden to help us.  So death was not a punishment either, but a way out.  He knew that there was a temptation in the Garden and therefore also put in a way out.  But why the temptation? Why is there evil?  God created everything, so why did He create evil?

That is where we have it all wrong!

God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

Everything that God created, He saw and it was good.  Therefore God did not create evil because evil is not a thing.  Evil is not a thing but an absence of a thing – the absence of Good.  It is like beauty.  Some things are more beautiful than others, not because they contain less ugly but because they contain more beauty.  Evil is just the turning away from Good. Evil is like a shadow. Shadows are not a thing themselves, darkness isn’t a thing just the absence of light.

But if evil is turning away from good, from God, then why did God allow us to turn away?  Why did He give us freewill?  He is all knowing so why put the temptation in the Garden in the first place when He knew we would succumb?

God gave us free will, just as He did the angels.  Some of the angels rebelled and so did we.  So why freewill?  People could turn away and have less good.  Ah!  But this is the key!  This is the key, because the mere fact that we can turn away allows for greater good, it allows for more love in the universe not more evil.  How can one have courage, or charity, or mercy, or heroism if there is not the possibility of the opposite?  That is to say, lack of Good.  Virtues, greater good, cannot be achieved if there is no possibility of turning away.  It would not be a virtue at all.  So God allows Free Will so that we can fill the universe with more Good, multiply it, and make more Love, so that we can truly return to be the image of God!

The wrong Eve and Adam did, the sin, was in turning away from God.  When they turned away it caused them sadness as all turning away from joy will.  God is Love and He does not want you to be sad as you never wish for your own child to be sad.  With this sadness on them, if they ate from the Tree of Life they would carry this sadness with them forever.  God wanted to forgive us, not punish us.  How did God choice to forgive us?  A sacrifice, a sacrifice that turns back all sadness.

How?  How does the death of the Son of God turn back sadness?  For God to require a blood sacrifice of his only Son is not Love, so obviously that was not the reason.  Jesus sacrificed himself.  Jesus is God.  God is Love.  It was not the sacrifice to pay a debt for a crime.  It wasn’t a sacrifice to change God’s mind about people so that He would forgive them.

It was a sacrifice to change our mind about God.

People had turned away from love so we can’t love completely.  We can’t love completely so we can’t think of being loved completely.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross was to show that we were so wrong.  That we are loved beyond all measure.  That there was nothing that couldn’t be forgiven.  That there was nothing that God would not do for us.  That we can turn back to Him anytime.  It wasn’t our sacrifice to a god, but God’s sacrifice to us.

That is the true meaning of Good Friday.

 

Peace be with you.

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