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Good Friday

April 15, 2022

Teacher: John McLeod
Series: Good Friday
Scripture: Matthew 27:1-54

Introduction

“What a night!”

Tonight, we remember the events of the day on which Jesus was tried, beaten, and crucified. We call this day “Good Friday” because of what it accomplished for our salvation. However, so many events surrounding this day were tragic and terrible. Consider the events of the last 24 hours.

Just the evening before, Jesus was celebrating his last Passover meal with his disciples. He washed their feet. He inaugurated the Communion meal which we will take part in later tonight.

He gave the upper room discourse in which he promises the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit, shares that he is the vine and they are the branches, and prays for them to the Father.

Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas, and then hours later, after praying while his disciples slept, they all experience that betrayal that came with a kiss.

All of his disciples abandon him.

He endures a Kangaroo Court in the house of the High Priest.

He watches as one of his closest disciples repeatedly denies even knowing him.

This brings us to one of the most pivotal moments in the history of Creation

The Pivotal Moment of Salvation History

Chapter 27 begins with “When morning came…” But, don’t be fooled. The activities of this particular Friday will be very dark indeed.

We commemorate this day because it is perhaps the most significant in all of history. Think back to the time before there was time, before there was anything except God himself. Now think ahead to the farthest point in the future that you can imagine in the New Heavens and the New Earth in eternity. Out of all of those days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia, this particular Friday around A.D. 30 described in Matthew 27 is one of the most significant, perhaps THE most significant.

It is not only the pivotal day in Creation. It’s also the greatest day in the history of God’s plan of salvation. The events and promises that came before point to this day—this moment when God accomplishes our redemption. If we think of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation, we are right here at the point of “Redemption.”

Without the deeds of this day, there would be NO salvation, no redemption, no forgiveness of sins, no adoption into God’s family, no hope for change, no fulfillment of God’s promises for us.

As we consider the activities of this day, we’ll look at:

  1. Injustice on Display
  2. The Price of Salvation
  3. Unexpected Responses

Prayer

Father, help us see clearly what your son endured to purchase our salvation. Help us feel the weight of the price he paid for our sake. Increase our gratefulness. Increase our love for you. Increase our heart to share the good news that forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to those who trust in you.

I. Injustice on Display

One of the evidences for God is the universal longing for justice. Every culture and every government has some understanding for justice.

One of the most difficult aspects of the Gospel stories is to see the incredible injustice that brought about the death of Jesus.

Failure of the religious leaders

Matthew 27:1–2 (ESV)

  • (1) When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
  • (2) And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Matthew 27:12 (ESV)

  • (12) But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer.

Matthew 27:20 (ESV)

  • (20) Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

Failure of the political leaders and the justice system

Matthew 27:11–14 (ESV)

  • (11) Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.”
  • (12) But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer.
  • (13) Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?”
  • (14) But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Pilate was amazed at how Jesus responded to the religious leaders and their accusations. Yet he still played along with their political game.

Matthew 27:15–18 (ESV)

  • (15) Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.
  • (16) And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
  • (17) So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?
  • (18) For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.

Pilate knew that they were playing a political game, yet he did not lead righteously. Rather, he polled the crowd.

Matthew 27:21–24 (ESV)

  • (21) The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”
  • (22) Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”
  • (23) And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
  • (24) So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.

Not only did Pilate not do the right thing, he also tried to avoid accountability and place the burden on the people.

Failure of the people

Pilate knew that the chief priests and elders had brought Jesus before him because of their envy.

However, see how easily the crowd was persuaded to turn against Jesus, who had been teaching and doing miracles among them for years.

Matthew 27:20 (ESV)

  • (20) Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

Matthew 27:25 (ESV)

  • (25) And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Here is a sober reminder that we are so easily influenced to do the wrong thing.

The guilty is freed

Matthew 27:15–16 (ESV)

  • (15) Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.
  • (16) And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

According to Mark’s Gospel, Barabbas was a murder and insurrectionist. It’s possible that he had been scheduled for execution with the two robbers which were crucified with Jesus.

Matthew 27:26 (ESV)

  • (26) Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Though we have a beautiful picture here for the undeserving receiving mercy because of what Christ has done, that does not remove the injustice of a murderer going free and the sinless Son of God going to his death.

The innocent is punished

We are accustomed to observing or experiencing miscarriages of justice in our fallen world. After all, in our courtrooms, we are often judging between sinners, and the case is never perfect.

That is what makes this the peak of injustice. The greatest tragedy and injustice was that the perfect, sinless one was sent to death unjustly.

Now let us consider the price of our redemption.

II. The Price of Salvation

What is the most significant thing that you would endure for the sake of someone you love? Sadly, we typically measure this with the scale of inconvenience. Let’s adjust our scales a bit.

  • How much money would you pay to free them?
  • How much ridicule would you withstand to defend them?
  • How much pain would you endure to save them?
  • How much injustice would you put up with to deliver them?

Would you do this even if they were NOT innocent?

Consider all that Jesus went through just in this one day alone!

The humiliation of Christ

Even apart from the acute suffering with Jesus is enduring on this particular day moving toward his crucifixion, we must consider what Jesus left behind to understand what he was truly experiencing.

Philippians 2:6–8 (ESV)

  • (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
  • (7) but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
  • (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Mocking

As I was reading this chapter over and over again, I was really struck by the audacity of those mocking Jesus. It’s bad enough that injustice is being perpetrated. But to add to that, nearly everyone involved felt free to mock the Son of God, who by one word of his mouth could call down myriads of angels against them.

He was mocked by the soldiers.

Matthew 27:27–31 (ESV)

  • (27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.
  • (28) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
  • (29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!
  • (30) And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
  • (31) And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

He was mocked by the passers-by

Matthew 27:39–40 (ESV)

  • (39) And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads
  • (40) and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

“If you are the son of God” sounds familiar doesn’t it? This phrase reminds us that Satan is still tempting Jesus even on the day of crucifixion. This was how he began his first two temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

He was mocked by the Chief Priests, scribes, and elders

Matthew 27:41–43 (ESV)

  • (41) So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,
  • (42) “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
  • (43) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

What a tempting remark. Consider the depth of love between the Father and the Son.

He was mocked by those being crucified with him.

Matthew 27:44 (ESV)

  • (44) And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Physical Suffering

Matthew is so nonchalant about how he presents the suffering of crucifixion. He does not go into the gory details of what Christ endured.

He was scourged (vs. 26). This was whipping with a whip with many strands with glass and pieces of bone tied to them. It might have merely been 39 lashes, but the Romans didn’t necessarily have that limit. This was often done to shorten time that it would take for one to die by crucifixion, and often killed the victim.

He was given a crown of thorns and struck on the head repeatedly.

His hands and feet were pierced as he was nailed to the cross.

He was crucified.

Separation

Matthew 27:45–46 (ESV)

  • (45) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.
  • (46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This is one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith. It’s possible that Jesus was bringing Psalm 22 to mind for himself and those that heard him. But, the exact nature of the interactions within the Trinity are difficult for us to understand.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

  • (21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Matthew 27:50 (ESV)

  • (50) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

It would be tragic for any person to suffer unjustly through crucifixion, but this was just any person, this was the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Son of God.

And, he was not giving his life for good people.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)

  • (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

III. Unexpected Responses

I do want us to notice a few unexpected responses in Matthew’s telling of the Crucifixion narrative. We are certainly disappointed in what we see from the Religious leaders, but there are some surprising statements throughout.

Judas — I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.

First, we see Judas.

Matthew 27:3–4 (ESV)

  • (3) Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,
  • (4) saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

Pilate’s Wife — Have nothing to do with that righteous man

Matthew 27:19 (ESV)

  • (19) Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”

Pilate — what evil has he done?

Matthew 27:23 (ESV)

  • (23) And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Soldiers — The King of the Jews

Though the Romans were likely poking fun at the religious leaders, it is profound what they put as the charge above Jesus on the Cross.

Matthew 27:37 (ESV)

  • (37) And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Dead Saints — Raised and walking around

Okay, so here is a strange happening which we just can’t ignore.

Matthew 27:52–53 (ESV)

  • (52) The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,
  • (53) and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Centurion — Truly this was the Son of God

Of all the declarations, this is perhaps the most profound and surprising.

Matthew 27:54 (ESV)

  • (54) When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Will you respond with equal certainty and greater faith than the Centurion. He declared that Jesus “was” the Son of God, but we declare that he “is” the Son of God.

Conclusion

Will you contemplate what Jesus endured for your sake?

Will you put your faith in this Savior who took our sins on himself to purchase our redemption?

John 3:16 (ESV)

  • (16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Prayer

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