What Do You See There? - Good Friday
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
April 02, 2021

As we hear again the story of Christ’s suffering and death for us, as we walk with Him through His dark hour, because He walks with us through our dark hours, what are the things we see? What do you see? Here are some things I see.

There is seeing with our eyes, and there is seeing with faith, according to God’s Word. When we see with our eyes, we see what the human actors are doing. We see what is happening to Jesus. We see Him nailed to a cross. We see Him die and get buried.

When we see the human actors, we see Judas, one of the twelve, who betrayed Him. What made him do it? He must have had some beef with Jesus, that stuck in his craw, that grew into bitterness, and then into malice. We aren’t told what it was. But he did one of those things we find most despicable among human beings. He betrayed trust and confidence. He turned his friend over to his friend’s enemies so they could put him to death. He agreed to do this for money. It cost his friend his life. It cost Judas his soul.

We see Peter. He was so confident that he was willing to die with Jesus, rather than deny Him. When the crunch time came, however, he came face to face with his weakness and cowardice, because he was operating in his own strength.

So they said to him, in the courtyard of the high priest: “You too are one of his disciples.”

He said: “No I am not. I do not know the man.”

The rooster crows, just as Jesus said it would. He was overcome by deeply bitter disappointment with himself.

Yet, he will be restored by the One whom He denied, but who will live again to say “Peace be with you.”

The others too ran away in fear, except for John. He stayed with Jesus to the very end.

We see the chief priests and Jewish leaders. They are insanely jealous of Jesus. They are filled with hate for Him. Who can understand why? They will do whatever it takes to get rid of Jesus. They will mis-apply God’s law and manipulate it to their own ends. They will abuse and manipulate judicial process to their own ends. They will even hand Him over to the Romans.

Praise God that they do not have the final say.

And then there is Pontius Pilate. Even though he knows that Jesus is innocent, he will do the politically expedient thing to stop what seems to be a developing riot.

May God give us rulers who genuinely pursue what is just and right, who follow principle, and don’t give in to factions and the mob.

And then there is the devil. He is so blinded by his arrogance that he thinks that he has taken care of Jesus by political machinations and physical death. It turns out that he understands nothing at all. He is defeated by Jesus’s death. This will become evident on the third day.

But what is most important in this is what our faith sees, according to God’s word. We see God’s displeasure with sin, for in Jesus’s death we see God’s wrath against it. Let us walk before God in humble and sincere repentance toward our own sin.

But there is so much more we see.

We see God’s love; God’s immense, unfathomable, unquenchable, and incredible love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. This is love on God the Father’s part, finding a way to punish the sin of the sinner without destroying the sinner. He will give His Son in the sinner’s place under His wrath. That way, He will be able to save some, those sinners who acknowledge their sins and sinfulness before God, who want to please God, and who desire God’s forgiveness and favor.

And this is love; wanting the good of the other, not waiting for the sinner not to be a sinner before making the sacrifice: “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Love on Jesus’s part. He Himself said it: “[N]o greater love has a person than this than to lay down His life for His friends” (John 15:13). This is what we see Him doing tonight. He is fully on board with the Father’s plan. For He says about Himself: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He shares the Father’s love for all mankind, for you and me. So in the midst of what they are doing to Him, He says, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

And then He comes to the end of that dark hour. He cries out in the distress: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is the cry of faith that will be answered. For in faith He also says: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

And with that, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Which is to say, it is completed. And He bowed His head and gave up his spirit.

But now there is not the endless sorrow of death, defeat at the hands of evil men and evil forces. No. When Jesus says “it is finished” and dies, there is now profound calm and peace. For it truly is finished. The purpose is accomplished. This is not meaninglessness, but death in purpose. And now the struggle is over. He has accomplished His Father’s will. Love has atoned for all sin. Peace is won. The struggle is over. Now there is just the waiting for the certain day, the third day, when His cry to the Father will be answered and His ceaseless faith will be vindicated. Sin is defeated. Death is about to be conquered.

So let our faith be filled with a desire to do the will of God and with disgust at our own sin, as God defines it, not as humans define it.

And let our faith be filled with God’s love, on such amazing display before us this evening. This is the love of the Father and the Son for you and your neighbor; the love that has made atonement for us all.

And then let our faith be filled with His last word: “It is finished.” For the forgiveness you need before God is obtained as He speaks these words and breathes His last breath. There is peace. And as He rose on the third day, you too, and all His people, will rise in Him, on that Great and Glorious Day when He appears again in glory. Thanks be to God. Amen.


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