Good Friday 4/15/22

April 7th, 2022


Good Friday, Year C

Sermon on the Gospel Reading

Scripture: John 18:1–19:42

1After he said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples and crossed over to the other side of the Kidron Valley. He and his disciples entered a garden there. 2Judas, his betrayer, also knew the place because Jesus often gathered there with his disciples. 3Judas brought a company of soldiers and some guards from the chief priests and Pharisees. They came there carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4Jesus knew everything that was to happen to him, so he went out and asked, “Who are you looking for?”
5They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
He said to them, “I Am.” (Judas, his betrayer, was standing with them.) 6When he said, “I Am,” they shrank back and fell to the ground. 7He asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8Jesus answered, “I told you, ‘I Am.’ If you are looking for me, then let these people go.” 9This was so that the word he had spoken might be fulfilled: “I didn’t lose anyone of those whom you gave me.”
10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?” 12Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the guards from the Jewish leaders took Jesus into custody. They bound him 13and led him first to Annas. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. ( 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was better for one person to die for the people.)
15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Because this other disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 16However, Peter stood outside near the gate. Then the other disciple (the one known to the high priest) came out and spoke to the woman stationed at the gate, and she brought Peter in. 17The servant woman stationed at the gate asked Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”
“I’m not,” he replied. 18The servants and the guards had made a fire because it was cold. They were standing around it, warming themselves. Peter joined them there, standing by the fire and warming himself.
19Meanwhile, the chief priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly to the world. I’ve always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews gather. I’ve said nothing in private. 21Why ask me? Ask those who heard what I told them. They know what I said.” 22After Jesus spoke, one of the guards standing there slapped Jesus in the face. “Is that how you would answer the high priest?” he asked. 23Jesus replied, “If I speak wrongly, testify about what was wrong. But if I speak correctly, why do you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him, bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. 25Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing with the guards, warming himself. They asked, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?” Peter denied it, saying, “I’m not.” 26A servant of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said to him, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” 27Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. 28The Jewish leaders led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early in the morning. So that they could eat the Passover, the Jewish leaders wouldn’t enter the palace; entering the palace would have made them ritually impure. 29So Pilate went out to them and asked, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30They answered, “If he had done nothing wrong, we wouldn’t have handed him over to you.” 31Pilate responded, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your Law.” The Jewish leaders replied, “The Law doesn’t allow us to kill anyone.” ( 32This was so that Jesus’ word might be fulfilled when he indicated how he was going to die.) 33Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?” 35Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
36Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”
37"So you are a king?” Pilate said.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”
38"What is truth?” Pilate asked.
After Pilate said this, he returned to the Jewish leaders and said, “I find no grounds for any charge against him. 39You have a custom that I release one prisoner for you at Passover. Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”
40They shouted, “Not this man! Give us Barabbas!” (Barabbas was an outlaw.)
1Then Pilate had Jesus taken and whipped. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. 3Over and over they went up to him and said, “Greetings, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4Pilate came out of the palace again and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look! I’m bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no grounds for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here’s the man.”
6When the chief priests and their deputies saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify!”
Pilate told them, “You take him and crucify him. I don’t find any grounds for a charge against him.”
7The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a Law, and according to this Law he ought to die because he made himself out to be God’s Son.”
8When Pilate heard this word, he was even more afraid. 9He went back into the residence and spoke to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus didn’t answer. 10So Pilate said, “You won’t speak to me? Don’t you know that I have authority to release you and also to crucify you?”
11Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me if it had not been given to you from above. That’s why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” 12From that moment on, Pilate wanted to release Jesus. However, the Jewish leaders cried out, saying, “If you release this man, you aren’t a friend of the emperor! Anyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes the emperor!”
13When Pilate heard these words, he led Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench at the place called Stone Pavement (in Aramaic, Gabbatha ). 14It was about noon on the Preparation Day for the Passover. Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, “Here’s your king.”
15The Jewish leaders cried out, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate responded, “What? Do you want me to crucify your king?”
“We have no king except the emperor,” the chief priests answered. 16 Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.
The soldiers took Jesus prisoner. 17Carrying his cross by himself, he went out to a place called Skull Place (in Aramaic, Golgotha ). 18That’s where they crucified him—and two others with him, one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19Pilate had a public notice written and posted on the cross. It read “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city and it was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. 21Therefore, the Jewish chief priests complained to Pilate, “Don’t write, ‘The king of the Jews’ but ‘This man said, “I am the king of the Jews.”’”
22Pilate answered, “What I’ve written, I’ve written.”
23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and his sandals, and divided them into four shares, one for each soldier. His shirt was seamless, woven as one piece from the top to the bottom. 24They said to each other, “Let’s not tear it. Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the scripture,
They divided my clothes among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.
That’s what the soldiers did.
25Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
28After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar full of sour wine was nearby, so the soldiers soaked a sponge in it, placed it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.
31It was the Preparation Day, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath, especially since that Sabbath was an important day. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of those crucified broken and the bodies taken down. 32Therefore, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who were crucified with Jesus. 33When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead so they didn’t break his legs. 34However, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35The one who saw this has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he speaks the truth, and he has testified so that you also can believe. 36These things happened to fulfill the scripture, They won’t break any of his bones. 37And another scripture says, They will look at him whom they have pierced.
38After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. 39Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all. 40Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. 41There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.


Sermon Title: Why?

A tired and weary father comes home from work. “A new coat, Dad?” his son asks. “Yeah,” the father replies. “I’m surprised you bought a new coat,” his wife responds. “Things are tight financially and that one looks bad for wear.”

“I didn’t exactly buy it,” he said. “I had crucifixion duty today.

“Can supper wait? I’ve got to talk. We crucified three today, but one was different. By the time we got him he was half-dead: scourged terribly, spittle all over him, chunks of beard plucked out, and a crown of thorns rammed down on his forehead. We had to drag someone out of the jeering crowd to carry his cross to the site. I’ve seen men scream in horror and fear when we nail them to the cross. With some it has taken six of us to hold them still long enough to drive the spikes. But not this one. He kept saying something over and over. When I drew close enough to hear, he was saying, ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ When I looked into his eyes—oh, those eyes—I saw not one ounce of hatred.

“The crowd was unruly. They came by spitting and mocking him. One of the other criminals cursed him. I never heard him curse back. He died quickly—I guess because they beat him so. I’ve just never seen anyone like him—those prayers, those unforgettable eyes.”

“It’s a shame someone like that has to die,” his wife responded.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “It was almost as if in some weird way we took nothing from him. It was as if he was giving his life.”

Why would he go through all of that? Why did he suffer the horror and humiliation of the cross?

He was selected “Man of the Year.” Second year in a row. That night he took home his certificate, dragged out the usual bottle, and tried to hide his emptiness. Later, his only daughter, shaking in fear, hides in the closet as she listens to the all-too-familiar sounds of him slapping her mother. Did Jesus die for him?

A young lady came to visit Keith Miller once. “I’ve heard you speak about God’s love—that he loves and accepts everyone. Is this true?”

“That’s correct!” he said.

“I’m committing adultery every Thursday afternoon. Now what does your God say?”

Did Christ die for her? Did he die that all of us—weathered soldiers, hypocritical civic leaders, and immoral people that we are—might have it better than we deserve? Did he die so that we might experience grace?

In Forrest Cater’s book, The Education of Little Tree, he tells the story of Coon Jack. At the testimony meeting in the small rural church, Coon Jack said, “Now, I know that there are a lot of people here who are jealous of me ever since the deacon board gave me the key to the songbook box. I’m tired of you talking about me.” With that he pulled back his coat and exposed the handle of a pistol. A deacon rose, “Coon Jack, if you have been offended by any person in this room, we’re sorry.” He sat down and Coon Jack was happy.

The little Indian boy asks his grandpa on the way home, “Grandpa, why did those men let Coon Jack talk to them that way?” He said, “Well, Little Tree, it’s like this: Coon Jack is just an old Cherokee Indian. When they took his land away from him he hid in the hills and fought to get his land back, but he lost. When the War Between the States broke out, he fought again to get his land back and he lost. Now he’s just old and tired of fighting. He has nothing left to fight for. All Coon Jack has is the key to the songbook box.”

Maybe that’s why Jesus died. He died that grace can treat us far better than we deserve—even when we’re old and tired and there is nothing left for which to fight.

Maybe that’s why he died—that the best of us and the worst of us might have dignity and hope.

“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” ( Rom. 5:8).

—Gary L. Carver

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