Good Friday

WHY DID JESUS DIE?

: Good Friday

 

Today I’m beginning with a simple question; Why did Jesus die?koch3

What are some of the thoughts that come to your mind when you hear that question; Why did Jesus die?

Did Jesus die because we have an angry God and he was the sacrifice that was needed to appease God’s anger? Is God’s wrath the problem?

Or would you put it more like this; Jesus died to save us from our sin. What does it mean that Jesus saves us from our sin?

These questions aren’t meant to make you feel as though you’ve got to get the right answer or otherwise you’re wrong. I’m just asking questions to get us thinking about what Jesus did for us on the cross.

We take a whole day off work; or we used to, to stop what we’re doing to remember this most important event in our history; Jesus crucifixion. Why did Jesus die?

You’ll be pleased to know that Jesus didn’t die to save us from an angry God. His Dad isn’t angry. Actually his Dad is the personification of love; it’s his very nature, he can do no other. Whatever he does is love. That reminds me of 1 John 4:16 ‘God is love’.

Isn’t that Good News, “God is Love” and then John continues; “and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 Jn 4:16) What a wonderful relationship John is seeking to describe. But wait there’s more; “Such love has no fear.” (1 Jn 4:18) Did you hear that, ‘no fear’. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” (1 Jn 4:18)

The perfect love mentioned is God, who’s very nature is love. It’s not just a character quality with him, it is who he is; love incarnate.

John reminded his readers of this earlier in his letter; “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” (1 Jn 3:16) Wow did you notice that John gave part of the answer to our question; Why did Jesus die? Jesus gave up is life; in other words died, so that we might know what real love is, God’s love, his very person.

So at the heart of the cross is love, God’s love, in Jesus, reaching out to who?

I think God’s love is reaching out to those who don’t believe it, that they are loved by him. God’s love is reaching out to those who don’t feel loved, to those who feel they have to prove themselves. God’s love is reaching out to those who think along these lines; ‘if I don’t act nice people won’t like me, let alone love me.’ Or thinking like this; ‘You only respect those who earn your respect.’

Jesus is reaching out to those who live in fear, by fear, through fear. To those who think they have to prove themselves. To those who seek to find their answer to fear by taking control themselves.

Remember earlier I said; Jesus died to save us from our sin. Sin is what I’ve been striving to describe to you. Sin isn’t the bad things we do as much as the fact that we are born into this world not knowing we are loved. We are born into a world of fear, a world of so many insecurities.

Part of the fear is we have sought to answer our fears by taking control of our lives. I shape my identity through what I do and that other people speak well of me. And the ones who don’t, don’t count. I reject them, but that leaves me with a nagging fear; who’s rejecting me.

Have you ever noticed what a power the fear of rejection is; the need to be accepted, valued, wanted?

My greatest sin is when I trust in my successes to define me, to make me feel safe. My greatest sin is found in the things I feel make me a good person, because they’re what I trust in. Here is my answer to this all-pervading fear.

Why are these my greatest sin? Because they become the very things that stop me from knowing God’s love for me. I’d love to have a dollar for every time someone has said a phrase like this; ‘God would like me, I’m a good bloke. I won’t go to hell, I’m a good person’. And you know what; I’d say without exception everyone who ever said this to me was a good person. They were fun to be with. They were loyal, thoughtful, people of character.

And without exception they all doubted that God could be trusted. Actually most of them doubt God’s very existence. They didn’t sense that he loved them, that he was over the moon about them, that he’d go to hell and back to love them. They would say to me; ‘If God was real, why is the world in such a mess, why is there so much suffering and pain. God can’t be real and if he is we’re not interested.’

Here is why Jesus died on the cross; he wants to love you. He want’s your life, actually he wants you, to be a living expression of love, just as his life is. Remember love isn’t simply a character quality of God, it’s his very nature, it’s who he is. Whatever he does is love, he can act no other way, it is who he is.

Would you say that of your life?

That’s Jesus goal, hope, dream. That as you discover and grow in his love, he is allowed to re-create you as a person who is shaped by his love, that your identity is wrapped up in his love, that fear is banished, replaced by this wonderful all-pervading sense of being loved. Jesus’ goal, his hope, his dream for you is that your life is a living expression of the love in your life, the love he has for you. The love he has for you flowing into every area, into every aspect because now, in Jesus, it’s become who you are; wow!

Do you notice that has nothing to do with you being better than anyone else. It has nothing to do with you proving your worth through what you do; because that ends up putting people down. They feel the need to prove themselves and soon we’re competing; who’s top dog.

Why did Jesus die?

Jesus was born, lived and died to create trust in his Father, to create love in us, a love which goes beyond a character quality to being the very essence of who we are so that when we act, it’s an act of love, because like Jesus, we are living true to who we are.

That’s why Jesus didn’t jump in and stop Adam and Eve from talking with the devil, God’s goal, hope, dream is that we love as we are loved. That we live from the core of who we are; loved. Jesus isn’t interested in robots always do what they are programmed to do. Jesus is after a genuine relationship of love.

Can you trust this guy with your life; with your sexual choices, with your financial choices, or will he screw you? Is he just in it for what he can get out of it?

What does Jesus; his life, death and resurrection say to you?

Today we are reminded that Jesus poured out his life for these people only to be abandoned, betrayed, beaten, ridiculed, laughed at, nailed to a cross to prove to everyone what a joke he was. Jesus was deliberately nailed to a cross to prove to everyone that he was cursed by God.

They mocked Jesus; ‘come off the cross and we’ll believe you. Save yourself, if you can’.

But Jesus doesn’t come off the cross, that would have just cemented us in fear. Jesus doesn’t save himself, but he goes to hell and back, so we don’t have to, so we don’t have to live unloved, fearful, forever proving ourselves, forever fearful of what others might do, or not do. What a hellish way to exist.

No Jesus chooses to die on the cross so that he might create, birth in us his love, his very nature, that we too might live in that wonderful freedom and joy of being true to who we are no matter the circumstance. Life has now become a wonderful opportunity to give living expression to the love we now are, the love we now have, for that is what Jesus has created us to be. In Jesus you are Father’s children, chosen and marked by his love, the delight of his life. In Jesus, that’s who you are, so you can now grow in living true to who you are.

Jesus invites you to invite him in to love you; that’s what forgiveness is, Jesus reaching out and loving you personally. Jesus doesn’t force himself on us; that’s not love, but he has gone to hell and back because he loves us, more than his own life and now invites you to invite him in, to recreate you that your life becomes and matures as a living reflection of the loved person you are in him.

Today Jesus invites you to invite him in, into every area of your life, that he might love you.

The invitation is yours. I pray you make some time to talk with him about it today.

Pastor Tim Koch.

Good Friday

Text: John 19:28-3028

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished,and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,Jesus said,“I am thirsty.”29A jar of wine vinegarwas there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.30When he had received the drink, Jesus said,“It is finished.”With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.It is finished.palm5

We wonder why Jesus’ ministry had to end this way.Why was it necessary for Jesus to die?They are very reasonable questions, but they are not questions that we would ask if we truly understand what Jesus promised.Take St Peter for example.Jesus prophesied that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.Peter objected and said, “Never, Lord –this will never happen to you”.But did Peter hear Jesus properly?It is very likely that Peter didn’t hear fully what Jesus said.It is likely that once he heard Jesus say that he must be killed that he stopped paying attention.And that’s what death does.When we hear about death, especially about the death of someone we love it can also make us wonder why.Why does life end?Why is it necessary to die?But Peter needed to listen to Jesus and the totality of what he said:asHe said that after he was killed, on the third day he would be raised to life.But even as Christians we don’t always think of that when we are confronted with death.We don’t automatically think of eternal life when someone we love dies.We are usually so grief stricken thatwe cannot see past the reality of death.Even St Paul acknowledges that when he speaks of Christ’s victory over death.He says: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Whereas death no longer has victory because of Jesus’ death and resurrection it certainly still carries its sting.And that sting is evident every time we sit at the bedside of a loved one –as we watch the coffin lowered into the grave, as we visit the gravesite of our loved ones –the sting of grief in death remains.But Paul also reminds us that we grieve but not as those who have no hope.We have hope because we know that the grave will not hold Jesus for long. We know that on the third daythat he will rise.But those 3 days are so long when it’s someone we love.Even though we know that we will be reunited with all our loved ones as we await the resurrection, it is so hard because the grief is so deep.Asking “why” about death or questioning God’s love because of death won’t remove the sting of death from our experience.Our loved ones will continue to face the reality of death and we shall continue to face the reality of our own death.Death is a reality of life.The only way to truly findcomfort in death is to listen carefully to what Jesus said about his own death.On the third day I will be raised to life.Without death there can be no resurrection.Without Jesus’ resurrection,we can never see death in any other way than an horrific event.Even Jesus’ own death is meaningless without that final part that Peter missed –on the third day I will be raised to life.To outsiders, a battered and broken Jesus who could no longer hold his head up and died in humiliation and defeat could not possibly be anything but a reminder of the pain and finality of death and no hope at all. But to those who believe into him, the true Son of God has completed his great work of defeating death and he cries out “it is finished”.But what is finished?Death’s victory is finished.As St Paul says, “the message of the cross if foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.And the power of God is,that just as Jesus has been raised from the dead,we too shall be raised to eternal life.Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished,” is clear and simple. No long explanations of how –no detailed sermon of what you have to do.Just “it is finished.”Jesus has completed his task that God sent him to do. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and eternal life. He came to give us the victory of death –the same victory over death that he achieved. He came to ensure that we would enter his kingdom of heaven and live forever.That’s why Jesus had to die because in order todefeat death he had to die and rise from death.And just as Jesus has risen from the dead, we too shall live a new life when we die.Thanks be to God who gives us the victory over death. Amen

Everything is complete!

Text: John 19:28-30

Jesus knew that by now everything had been completed; and in order to make the scripture come true, he said, “I am thirsty.” A bowl was there, full of cheap wine; so a sponge was soaked in the wine, put on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted up to his lips. Jesus drank the wine and said, “It is finished!”

It was three o’clock. Jesus called for water. 20180311_103505 (1)He could hardly speak. A soldier fixed a sponge on a spear and held it up to his lips. It was terribly bitter but it was enough. He strained to raise his head and look up to heaven. “It is finished,” he cried and then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

At the time, the moment was filled with too much emotion for those words to sink in and to ponder what they meant. But later as the early Christians read John’s Gospel and heard again those words, it dawned on them just how powerful these dying words of Jesus were. John wrote his Gospel in Greek, and those last words of Jesus are just one word in Greek – tetelestai (pronounced te-tel-es-sty).

The expression “It is finished” or tetelestai was well known to them. It was a part of everyday language.

When a servant had completed a difficult job that his master had given him to do, he would say to the master – tetelestai – “I have overcome all the difficulties; I have done the job to the best of my ability. It is finished”.

When the Jewish people went to the temple with their sacrifice, the High Priest would examine what was brought. Most likely, he didn’t speak Greek but he would use the Hebrew equivalent of tetelestai – meaning, “Your offering is accepted; it is perfect”.

When the merchant at the market place made a sale and the money was handed over, he would say, “tetelestai – the deal is finished, complete. The price has been paid in full. I am satisfied”.

When an artist had finished a painting or a sculpture he would stand back and say, tetelestai – it is finished; there is nothing more that can be done to make this piece of art any better. This painting is complete.

When a boy recited to his father a difficult passage he had learnt from the Scriptures or a girl showed her mother the bread she had baked for the family, they would say tetelestai and the parents responded with, “Well done, my child, I am very proud of you.”

When Jesus spoke those final words he wasn’t just saying, “This is the end of me” as if there was nothing else to do but to give in to his enemies and die. His last words weren’t a final surrender to the power of Satan as if to say, “You have won. I’m done for”. These words don’t tell us that Jesus was dead now and that’s all there is to it. He is finished and so is everything that he stood for and promised during his earthly life.

All those who heard the word tetelestai – the servants, those who offered sacrifices at the temple, the buyers and sellers at the market place, the artists and parents and children understood that Jesus is saying that his job of saving the world has been completed.
He has finished the task and nothing can be added to what has been done.
Jesus has paid the price in full – he has cancelled all debt.
His sacrifice has been a perfect one, acceptable to the heavenly Father who, looking down on his Son hanging lifelessly from the cross, said, “Well done, this is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased”.
Tetelestai – it is finished. Everything is complete!

What is it that is finished when Jesus says, “It is finished”?

Reconciliation is finished. The word ‘reconciliation’ has been used a lot in connection with the relationship between the aboriginal people of our country and the rest of the community. The terrible things that happened in the past have caused a rift between black and white people. Efforts have been made to heal the differences, to close the gap caused by past actions, to restore friendship, to be reconciled.

A terrible gap has come between God and all humanity caused by sin and evil. Our offences, our disobedience, the hurt we have caused God and others have destroyed our relationship with God. Recall a time when you have done something that has hurt someone else and because of that your friendship with that person has been damaged, a gap has come between you, and you felt uneasy when you met that person, in fact you may have avoided that person. All of that doesn’t change until you put aside your differences and friendship is restored.

In the movie Grand Canyon, a tow truck driver is threatened by five troublemakers as he attempts to rescue a terrified motorist. He says, “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, but this ain’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without askin’ if I can. And that dude is supposed to able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here.”

And he’s right. Everything’s supposed to be different. God created a perfect beautiful world and he made people to live in harmony and peace with one another. But look what’s happened. We all know what an effect our poorly chosen words and lack of consideration have on our relationship with family members and friends. Greed and selfishness destroy friendship and separate people and nations. That tow truck driver hit the nail on the head when he said – “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this”.

Sin has a devastating effect on our relationship with God. Sin separates us from God and if we want to have any hope of going to heaven to be with God, then someone had to deal with sin and restore our relationship with God. So God sent his Son into the world for this very purpose.

Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin to condemn us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “Salvation is finished”, Jesus cried. The restoration of the friendship between God and humanity has been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth has been completed.
He has won forgiveness for all people.
Nothing else needs to be done.
Salvation is complete. “It is finished”.

That’s why we call today “Good Friday”. It certainly wasn’t a good day for Jesus. He endured pain, soul-wrenching agony, hanging by the nails in his hands for hours, death on a rough wooden cross, for our sakes. We call today “Good Friday” because the cross is proof of the powerful love that God has for each of us. No one, not even God, would do something like that unless he truly loved us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us.

We have known love to do some very powerful and strange things. A teenager Arthur Hinkley lifted a farm tractor with his bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his best friend, eighteen-year-old Lloyd, was pinned under a tractor. Arthur heard Lloyd screaming for help and Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out. His love for his best friend somehow enabled him to do what would normally be impossible.

There is the story of a priest who offered his life in place of a teenage boy in Nazi Germany. His offer was accepted and the priest died to save the boy’s life.

And then there was the young soldier who had been condemned to death by Oliver Cromwell. He was to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. His fiancée climbed the bell tower and tied herself to the clapper of the giant bell so that it would not ring. When the bell did not ring, soldiers went to investigate and found the girl battered and bleeding from being bashed against the sides of the bell. Cromwell was so impressed by her love for the young man that he was pardoned.

Because of love, people do extraordinary things for others. They give us a glimpse, a small glimpse, at the kind of love that God has for us. God the Father sent his dearly loved Son into dangerous territory. He allowed his Son to be treated cruelly. He stood by and watched his innocent Son be nailed to a cross and to hang there in agony. He could have rescued him and cursed those who were treating him so brutally and maliciously. He allowed his Son to carry the sin of all humanity and so become repulsive even to his own Father. I don’t think we can fully appreciate what it meant for the Father to abandon the Son and let him died at the hands of evil people. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” we sense something of the terror of bearing the weight of the sin of all humanity.

God did all this for us. He did all this because of his love for us.

Paul writes, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:8,10). That’s how much God loves us – Jesus died for us even though we don’t deserve it. His death has made us God’s friends.

Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished” is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory. He came to ensure that we would enter his kingdom and live forever.

Today we’re going to do an “Altar Call”. You don’t have to get up; you don’t have to raise a hand or say a word. All I want you to do is close your eyes. For a short while, I want you to think about what Jesus has done for you through his death on the cross. Visualise in your mind the suffering Saviour. Think about the love that God has for you, and thank him. Ask God to wrap you tightly in his love – forgiving you, watching over you, guiding you. If you feel that Jesus and his love for you are not real for a large part of your life, ask for his help.

We pray:
Loving God,
what you have done for us in Jesus’ death on the cross is far more than we deserve. His death has made us friends with you again. His death has given us forgiveness and the hope of life forever. Everything is complete. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Amen.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy