Good Friday 2017

Jesus died to gain His joy and ours

I don’t know about you but during Easter I think about Christmas, and during Christmas I think about Easter. In my mind Christmas and Easter go together. They remind me of each other, so, if it’s okay with you, tonight, on this Good Friday, I’d like to tell you a Christmas story.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)

The news the angels brought that night, the news of the birth of a Savior, was news of great joy for all people. According to the angels (and they had it on good authority) joy was one of the purposes of the life and work of Jesus, even as it came time for Him to die for His people.

Hebrews 12:2 says, “for the joy that was set before him (he) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

On the cross, the Lord Jesus, wounded, weighed down with grief and shame, and crowned only with thorns, also experienced the wrath of God while He bore the sins of His people. And He determined to suffer this, knowing that this was the way through to the joy that was on the other side.

He tells His disciples in John’s gospel:

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:20-22, NLT)

Of that joy that no one will ever take from you, the psalmist says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

The consummation of this joy, God Himself will dwell with His people! The Apostle John tells us in Revelation:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:2-5)

Jesus suffered the pain and the anguish of bearing our sin to that cruel cross. There sorrow and love flowed mingled down. He endured all that because of the joy set before Him. We too will have our share of sorrow and pain if we follow after Him. But let us not grow weary in well-doing, for there is, as the angel said, great joy in store for all the people, if we persevere. Our God, at whose right hand are joys for evermore, is making all things new!

“It Is Finished”

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. – John 19:30

Coming to this passage, I have two questions. The first one is WHAT is finished? I think I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, and I think you do, too. The worst ordeal, that of bearing in the place of His people the Wrath of God against sin is complete. Make no mistake, there is a God and there is Wrath. But for the children of God, Jesus stood in their place and bore the eternal, burning, wrath of Holy God against sinful creatures.

He did not call on 12 legions of angels to deliver Him from the agony of this hour. He has allowed Himself to be dragged away to be crucified. He had earlier reminded Pilate that He, Jesus, was in control of these events. And he rebuked his own disciples for trying to prevent the crucifixion.

And so we should consider that the words ‘It is finished’ imply that a PLAN was in place and has indeed been completed. IT. IS. FINISHED.

We misunderstand if we think that the crucifixion and the redemption of sinners was a fortuitous circumstance that we stumble into. No, Dottie Rambo was spot on when she wrote:

“Behold the Lamb, behold the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.”

She knew her Bible. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, tells us our Father has chosen to redeem His children in Christ before the foundation of the world.  Peter, in Acts 2, called it, “the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”. Salvation did not come about in just one, short, holy week. It has been in the works forever. It is finished.

Yes, God has a plan. And He has many plans. Our God who would power a billion suns or more, and redeem billions of sons and daughters on a small planet, is the kind of God who starts a work in you and Who will complete it. And though you haven’t seen its end, I can tell you, It Is Finished and has been forever.  And this should give you hope.

The second question I have is, Why did He say it? That is, WHY do these words come from Christ’s thirsty mouth so that they then would be recorded for all time? Of all the phrases in all the world, Why is this one of the seven that would be remembered in Good Friday services like this one by Christians everywhere?

First I presume that not a single word is out of place in Scripture. Every word is in the book on purpose. Not one sentence, not one paragraph, is extraneous, extra, or something we can take or leave. He wants us to have them all. He wants us to SEE them all. And He wants us to see, “It is finished.”

And I think the ‘why’ is simply that there is nothing more to be done regarding the salvation of men and women. If the WHAT of the first question is Jesus has completed His work, the WHY of the second question is that you and I cannot improve upon it.

I think He tells us “It is finished” so that men and women, who from time immemorial have tried to appease the gods with most anything a human body can be made to do, will, once and for all, stop trying to finish what He Himself finished, and simply trust God that He finished it.

There is a popular definition of insanity that says ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Well, what then shall we say about trying to finish a thing that is already finished? Believer, Jesus invites you to come to Him and rest and I’ll tell you why.

It is finished.

All I once held dear

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1993 Make Way Music,