“Behold the Man: A God Who Bleeds, a God Who Dies” (John 18:1 – 19:42)

Good Friday
April 19, 2019

“Behold the Man: A God Who Bleeds, a God Who Dies” (John 18:1 – 19:42)

“Behold the man!” So Pilate said as Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. “Behold the man!” “Ecce homo” in the Latin. “See, I find no guilt in him.” Nevertheless, Pilate delivered Jesus over to be crucified.

So now: Behold the man on the cross! This is his purpose. This is why God became man. This is why the eternal Second Person of the Trinity has taken human flesh. This is the reason. Behold the man on the cross, bleeding, gasping, suffering, dying.


Published in: on April 19, 2019 at 7:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

Good Friday
March 30, 2018

“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

“Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ 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. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” This is our text.

“It is finished”: one of the last words of Jesus on the cross. But just what kind of a statement was it, this “It is finished”? What is it that is “finished”? What was Jesus talking about? How did he say, “It is finished”? What did he mean by that? Was it a statement of defeat and resignation? A statement of final relief? And whatever it was that was finished, and however Jesus may have been saying it, what in the world does it have to do with us? As we’ll see now, the answers to these questions are all wrapped up in this one little word: “It Is Finished.”


Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

Good Friday
April 14, 2017

“The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

“Behold, my servant,” says the Lord. Yes, behold him today. Behold the servant of the Lord serving in a most unexpected way: serving by suffering. Today on this Good Friday we behold Jesus Christ, the Lord’s faithful, righteous servant, suffering a death he doesn’t deserve. But because he does, you will receive what you don’t deserve. And that is good news on this Good Friday. So now behold Jesus Christ, “The Suffering, Sacrificing, Saving Servant.”


Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken” (John 19:31-37)

Good Friday
March 25, 2016

“Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken” (John 19:31-37)

It’s Friday, and darkness falls over the land. On a cross, a man who has been nailed there is dying a shameful and agonizing death. Yet this is no criminal. This is the most righteous and innocent man who has ever walked the earth. Indeed, this is the very Son of God, come in the flesh. Why is this happening? Why is God allowing this to happen? And couldn’t this man Jesus, who displayed such amazing power on other occasions–couldn’t he have stopped this? So was this one gigantic screw-up by God, this gross miscarriage of justice? Things seem to be going haywire, out of control.

We get a clue as to whether or not things were out of control by some of the details that the gospel writers record. And one of those details is this, recorded in the Gospel of John, that “these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” And the Scripture that John says is being fulfilled is this verse that he quotes: “Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken.”


Published in: on March 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani?” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12; Psalm 22; Mark 15:1-47)

Good Friday
April 3, 2015

“Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani?” (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12; Psalm 22; Mark 15:1-47)

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” This is one of the seven words from the cross, that is, one of the seven times Jesus spoke during his crucifixion. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” This saying of Jesus is recorded for us in two of the four gospels, in Matthew and Mark, where it is the only word from the cross that is recorded. For the other words from the cross, we have to go to Luke and John.

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” I think what is so striking about this word from the cross is that it is spoken, and recorded for us, in another language. That language is Aramaic, which is sort of a cousin to Hebrew. Aramaic was the everyday language that Jewish people like Jesus spoke at that time. And we find several times that Jesus’ words in Aramaic are recorded for us in the Bible. In Mark’s gospel, for instance, we hear Jesus raising a girl from the dead, saying, in Aramaic, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, arise.” Jesus heals a deaf man, touching his ears and saying, again in Aramaic, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened.” When Jesus prays in the garden, he starts his prayer by saying, “Abba,” which is Aramaic for “Father.” And now here today, this word from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Fortunately for us, who do not speak Aramaic, Mark always provides a translation every time he quotes Jesus in that language. And so it is here, where Mark gives the meaning, and it is in the form of a question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But that in turn raises the question of the meaning beyond a mere translation. Why is Jesus saying this? Why has God forsaken him? And what does that mean for us? Those are the questions we will explore now, as we ponder the meaning of “Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani?”


Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“But Deliver Us from Evil” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 23:32-49)

Good Friday
April 18, 2014

“But Deliver Us from Evil” (The Lord’s Prayer; Luke 23:32-49)

“But Deliver Us from Evil”: The seventh and final petition of the Lord’s Prayer. And how appropriate that we should come to this petition on this particular day, Good Friday. For the greatest evil that has ever been perpetrated on this earth is the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. I mean, really, Good Friday could just as well be called “Evil Friday,” that is the magnitude of the evil committed against this wholly innocent man, the most innocent man who has ever lived–indeed, the only truly innocent man to have ever lived.

But the reason we insist on still calling it “Good” Friday is because out of that monstrous evil God has worked the most marvelous good. It’s like what Joseph told his brothers after they had committed a terrible wrong against him. He said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” So also, in an even greater way, God has brought good out of the evil committed against Jesus.

And because of the incredible good that came out of the enormous evil done on this day, this is how and why we can pray “But deliver us from evil.” And we can be sure that God will do it, as we will now see.


Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?” (Luke 23:1-56)

Good Friday
March 29, 2013

“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?” (Luke 23:1-56)

“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?” Short answer: None. But then why all this pain and sorrow and death on this day when Jesus is sentenced and crucified and buried? What could possibly be good about this Good Friday? The hymn we sang will lead us into the answers.

O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession,
What dark transgression?


Published in: on March 29, 2013 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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“We Have Now Received Reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11)

Good Friday, Tenebrae Vespers
April 22, 2011

“We Have Now Received Reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11)

Our text this evening is the same as it was earlier today, a portion of Romans 5. At noon, under the theme “Christ Died for the Ungodly,” we focused on these verses: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Now tonight we continue on from that point: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

“We Have Now Received Reconciliation”: That is our theme for tonight. Tonight we want to consider the results, the benefits, of Christ dying for the ungodly. What is the changed situation now between God and us, because of what Christ has done?


Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christ Died for the Ungodly” (Romans 5:6-11)

Good Friday, Chief Service
April 22, 2011

“Christ Died for the Ungodly” (Romans 5:6-11)

“Christ Died for the Ungodly.” What an awesome, profound statement that is! The words come from Romans, the fifth chapter, reading as follows: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Torn Curtain” (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:19-25; Luke 23:44-46)

Good Friday: Vespers
April 2, 2010

“Torn Curtain” (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:19-25; Luke 23:44-46)

At just about the time that Jesus breathed his last, something very unusual happened not far away there in Jerusalem. “The curtain of the temple was torn in two,” our text in Luke 23 tells us. Matthew and Mark, in their gospels, likewise report this occurrence, and they add the fact that the curtain was torn in two “from top to bottom.” Now that’s strange, isn’t it? What does Jesus dying have to do with the curtain of the temple being torn in two? Was it just a coincidence? Or is there some connection? What does this “Torn Curtain” mean?


Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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