Archives For Good Friday

Christians refer to this day as Good Friday. It is the day Christians remember Jesus’ crucifixion. Although there is much about this day that would rightly be considered bad, for Christians, because of what it means, it is not only considered good, it is truly good. Jesus death (and resurrection!) is the only means by which sinners are, by faith, enabled to be made right with God. It is referred to as the great exchange, or imputation (double imputation): my sins are placed on Christ and Christ’s righteousness is given to us (2 Cor. 5:21). Referring to this day as Good Friday is a theological statement/truth.

Another fitting way this day could be described is as dark Friday. From 12:00 noon until 3:00 PM (according to the Jewish reckoning, these hours were known as the time between the 6th and 9th hours, since the day began at 6:00 AM), there was darkness over the whole land: “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mk. 15:33; cf. Matt. 27:45; Lk. 23:44). These three hours of darkness ended with Jesus’ death. Referring to this day as dark Friday is a historical statement.

Before focusing on the final words of Jesus from the cross, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), it is important to recount the events of the day (these events are compiled through the reading of the synoptic gospels along with the Gospel of John, and they are included in a number of different published sources):

  • Judas betrays Jesus and his arrested (Matt. 26:47-56).
  • Jesus appears before Annas for an informal hearing (Matt. 26:57, 59-68; Mk. 14:53, 55-65; Lk. 22:63-71).
  • Peter denies Jesus (Matt. 26:58, 29-75; Mk. 14:54, 66-72; Lk. 22:54-62; Jn. 18:15-18, 25-27).
  • Judas gives the silver back and hangs himself (Matt. 27:3-10).
  • Jesus is questioned by Pilate, who sends him to Herod Antipas (Matt. 27:11-14; Mk. 15:2-5; Lk. 23:1-7; Jn. 18:28-38).
  • Jesus is questioned by Herod Antipas, who sends him back to Pilate (Lk. 23:8-12).
  • In this second appearance before Pilate, Jesus is condemned to die (Matt. 27:15-26; Mk. 15:6-15; Lk. 23:13-25; Jn. 18:38-19:16).
  • Jesus is mocked and led to Golgotha (Matt. 27:27-34; Mk. 15:16-23; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17).
  • Two thieves are crucified with Jesus (Matt. 27:35-44; Mk. 15:24-32; Lk. 23:33-43; Jn. 19:18-27).
  • Jesus breathes his last breath (Matt. 27:45-56; Mk. 15:33-41; Lk. 23:44-49; Jn. 19:28-37).
  • Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus in a new tomb (Matt. 27:57-61; Mk. 15:42-47; Lk. 23:50-56; Jn. 19:38-42).

Immediately prior to his death, John records Jesus’ final words and his final voluntary and obedient act: “After this, 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, 1It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19:28-30). Everything about this dark/good Friday, and everything about Jesus’ death is important for us to grasp, with the implications of Christ’s death (and resurrection!) vital for us to experience for new life. Of these many truths and implications, I focus upon five.

First, Jesus is aware he is here for a divine purpose, a purpose arrived at through one divine will. This is not the Father against the Son. This is the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – willing from eternity past (immanent Trinity) to redeem a people for himself, and this is the means by which that redemption becomes real in time (economic Trinity).

Second, Jesus is aware he is fulfilling the divine plan and purpose that had been prophesied earlier. His statement of “I thirst” is a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures (cf. Ps. 69:21; one concludes, “the hermeneutical assumption is that David and his experience constitute a prophetic model, a ‘type’, of ‘great David’s greater son’.”). This “jar full of sour wine” is not to be confused with the “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mk. 15:23), which Jesus was offered on the way to the cross. That was used as a sedative intended to alleviate the pain, to dull the senses, so that one would not feel the pain of the suffering. This Jesus refused. He was committed to obey his Father to the end, voluntarily and obediently to drink the full cup of suffering assigned to him in his role as the God-man. Being the opposite of dulling the pain, this “sour wine” would prolong life and therefore prolong pain (cf. Mk. 15:36).

Third, John records that the “sour wine” Jesus requested was given to him “on a hyssop branch.” This is only mentioned by John, and this little plant, of which a sprig is ideal for sprinkling, was regularly used in the Old Testament for this purpose. In one connection to God’s divine will, and the fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures, and the fulfillment of the types foreshadowing Christ, this is the plant used to sprinkle the blood on the doorposts and lintel at Passover (Ex. 22:22). For those homes who engaged in this obedient act commanded by God, the promised response was “the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you” (Ex. 22:23). Jesus is the “lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36).

Fourth, Jesus utters his final words from the cross: “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). This not only refers to the end of Jesus’ earthly life, a time at which he dies, but, more importantly, the fulfillment and completion of the work he came to do. It is not merely a chronological reference, pointing to the end-point of a period of time. Significantly, it is also a theological reference, the completion of his work of addressing sin (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12-21), so that we might have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Jesus came to propitiate God’s wrath and to forgive sins (Rom. 3:21-26; 1 Jn. 4:10), to remove the fear of death (Heb. 2:14), to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), and to triumph over the principalities and the powers (Col. 2:14-15). D. A. Carson writes,

In the Greek text, the cry itself is one word, tetelestai. As an English translation, It is finished captures only part of the meaning, the part that focuses on completion. Jesus’ work was done. But this is no cry of defeat; nor is it merely an announcement of imminent death (though it is not less than that). The verb teleō from which this form derives denotes the carrying out of a task, and in religious contexts bears the overtone of fulfilling one’s religious obligations. Accordingly, in the light of the impending cross, Jesus could earlier cry, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing (teleiōsas; i.e. by accomplishing) the work you gave me to do’ (17:4). ‘Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them eis telos—not only ‘to the end’ but to the full extent mandated by his mission. And so, on the brink of death, Jesus cries out, It is accomplished!

Another gloriously concludes, what is most important about Jesus’ last works is the truth that “Jesus work was finished. He came to work God’s work, and this meant dying on the cross for the world salvation. This mighty work of redemption has now reached its culmination. . . . Jesus died with the cry of the Victor on his lips. This is not the moan of the defeated, nor the sigh of patient resignation. It is the triumphant recognition that He has now fully accomplished the work that He came to do.”

Finally, Jesus final earthly act voluntarily and obediently experienced is that after confessing “it is finished,” he “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19:30; cf. Matt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46). He is the sovereign one over life and death, and although many are humanly responsible for Christ’s death, no one ultimately took his life. He is the one who had authority to lay it down of his own accord (Jn. 10:18), which is the final filial act of obedience to his the will of his Father (Jn. 8:29; 14:31). Jesus’ final utterance of “it is finished” (Jn. 19:30) reveals the truth Jesus stated earlier, “he loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1). The end of his love was his death on the cross. This love of the Son is also reflected by God the Father who loved, and his love was the ground and basis for the propitiatory sacrifice (1 Jn. 4:9-10).

This “giving up” or “handed over” is the last one in a series of uses of this verb (note the different ways the word is translated). The devil through Judas Iscariot “betrayed” Jesus to Caiaphas (18:2), and Caiaphas “delivered” Jesus to Pilate (Jn. 18:30), and Pilate “delivered him” to the Jews for crucifixion” (Jn. 19:16). But ultimately and absolutely, Jesus was in control of it all, in that he is the one who “gave up his spirit” to the Father (Jn. 19:30; cf. Matt. 27:50; Lk. 23:46).

I conclude in this way. Jesus’ “it is finished” refers to the fulfillment and completion of the work he as the God-man came to accomplish. Part of his completion and fulfillment is as the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, faithfully and fully fulfilled, captured in his last earthly words on the cross: “it is finished.” Here is how one summarizes this wonderfully amazing truth:

The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden. The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man. The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped. The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree. The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.

The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride. The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns. The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife when man opened God’s side. The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse. While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

What we remember and celebrate of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an incredible truth. In fact, it is a miraculous truth.

In the incarnation, Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, becomes man and is “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). He has made the God the Father known (Jn. 1:18). He is the God-man. Everything about Christ, his person and work, is “for us and for our salvation.” He is our representative and substitute. Jesus Christ is the lone mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).

There is much we know about the truth of the Person and work of the God-man, Jesus Christ. That he came to give his life as a ransom for many, and that he came to save human beings from their sin (1 Jn. 4:9-10), by bearing their curse (Rom. 8:3; Gal. 3:10-14) and granting his righteousness to those who in faith believe is true (2 Cor. 5:21). We know it because it because it has been revealed to us (cf. Matt. 16:17).

Even though we can say all of this with absolute confidence, there remains a mystery to the precise how of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and its implications to God (Eph. 2:3), propitiation, and to sinful, rebellious human beings, who are turned from those under God’s wrath to having sins forgiven (Col. 1:13-14) and adopted sons and daughters (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4-7), expiation.

We speak what God speaks in the Scriptures. We speak with the assurance the Holy Spirit gives as an internal witness that enables us to call God Father and assures us he and his Word is true. But the mystery remains. We go as far as God’s revelation, both written in the Bible and inscribed in our hearts, and yet we go no further. There is much to the what, why and how of the atonement, and much of it is revealed. But when we have reached the depth of what we know of God’s revelation, there is more. A mystery remains. When we reach this point, we remain silent and worship.

I share the words of the inimitable C. H. Spurgeon from his sermon, “The Three Hours of Darkness” (Sermon 1896) (I delineated the paragraph to reflect the different aspects of truth he was espousing):

This darkness tells us all that the Passion is a great mystery into which we cannot pry.

I try to explain it as substitution and I feel that where the language of Scripture is explicit, I may and must be explicit, too. But yet I feel that the idea of substitution does not cover the whole of the matter and that no human conception can completely grasp the whole of the dread mystery. It was worked in darkness because the full, far-reaching meaning and result cannot be beheld of finite mind.

Tell me the death of the Lord Jesus was a grand example of self-sacrifice–I can see that and much more.

Tell me it was a wondrous obedience to the will of God–I can see that and much more.

Tell me it was the bearing of what ought to have been borne by myriads of sinners of the human race, as the chastisement of their sin–I can see that and found my best hope upon it. But do not tell me that this is all that is in the Cross! No, great as this would be, there is much more in our Redeemer’s death.

God only knows the love of God–Christ only knows all that He accomplished when He bowed His head and gave up the ghost.

There are common mysteries of Nature into which it were irreverence to pry, but this is a Divine mystery before which we take our shoes off, for the place called Calvary is holy ground! God veiled the Cross in darkness-and in darkness much of its deeper meaning lies-not because God would not reveal it, but because we have not capacity enough to discern it all!

God was manifest in the flesh and in that human flesh He put away sin by His own Sacrifice-this we all know. But ‘without controversy great is the mystery of godliness’.

On this Good Friday we remember the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the important aspects of the death of Jesus on the cross, and our salvation, is the blood, and more importantly Jesus’ shed blood.

It is not the amount of blood that Christ shed that is important. Rather, it is that Jesus shed His blood in death as a propitiating sacrifice. If there is no shed blood, there is no salvation.

The Scriptures are filled with references to blood. In fact, one New Testament scholar notes that in reference to the Atonement the New Testament writers use the word “blood” three times more than the word “cross” and five times more than the expression “death”.

The church has affirmed these biblical truths through creeds, hymns and choruses since the time of Jesus’ death. We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus’ shed blood in death and his subsequent resurrection (and although both must be kept together, it is fitting for a time to focus on them separately, as we do with Good Friday and Easter).

Many Evangelicals refer to the death of Christ, the atoning sacrifice, propitiation, as a bloody atonement. The reason they did this is to emphasize the necessity of shed blood for salvation. This belief is grounded in the Scriptures. Since the Enlightenment, most theological liberals are offended by such language, which they conclude is barbaric. They prefer not to refer to Jesus’ death in such terms. And yet for us, Scripture compels us to affirm it. As noted by one recently, There’s Still Power in the Blood

I have culled the Scriptures for some of the key references to blood. On this day, I encourage you to read these texts carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully. There is much I would like to comment on each text, and there is a theology of the blood that I would like state. But the best thing on this day is to read the Scriptures itself, God’s Word. Some of the texts I only include a verse so you may have to read a longer section from the larger context.

Exodus 12:11-14: In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Leviticus 17:11: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Matthew 26:26-39: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Acts 20:28: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 

Romans 3:25: whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Romans 5:9: Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

1 Corinthians 10:16: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Ephesians 1:7: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 

Ephesians 2:13: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Colossians 1:19-20: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Hebrews 9:11-14: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:22: Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 10:19: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,

Hebrews 13:12: So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

1 Peter 1:17-19: And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 John 1:7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Revelation 1:4b-6: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 5:9-10: And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 12:11: And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Revelation 19:11-16: Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus and the Cross: Now is the Hour

Greg Strand – April 2, 2015 Leave a comment

John 12:20-36: Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

 

John’s Use of “Now” and “Hour”

John emphasizes two key words: “now” and “hour”. Both terms focus on Jesus, His ministry, the age He ushers in, and the cross. Generally, the “hour” emphasizes Jesus’ person and work such that “the hour is coming, and is now here” (Jn. 4:21; 5:25). Jesus marks the transition from the old to the new and begins the transformation – He ushers in the kingdom (Mk. 1:14-15). Even though the kingdom awaits a future fulfillment, it is begun now in the person and ministry of Jesus.

More specifically, the “hour” is related to the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry which is the cross, the place where Christ experiences the depths of sin, yet also the beginning of his exaltation through resurrection and glorification.

It is important to note John’s transition. When Jesus was asked to do certain things, He made it clear that the “hour had not yet come” (Jn. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But Jesus final journey to the cross marks his transition such that John records Jesus as saying, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn. 12:23; cf. 12:27(2x); 13:1; 17:1).

The cross is the unique way through which He will be glorified. Jesus’ High Priestly prayer begins, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Jn. 17:1).

The Hour Has Now Come

With the arrival of the Greeks (Jn. 12:20), Jesus knows that his appointed “hour” has arrived (Jn. 12:23). Prior to this point, Jesus made it clear that the hour had not yet arrived, it was not yet time for Him to go to the cross. And yet that changes now because the appointed time has arrived.

Because that hour encompasses the cross, He is deeply troubled (Jn. 12:27). He and the Father are one in their plan and intent to redeem humanity, and there was no other way or means by which that would be done. There is a divine necessity (Lk. 24:26; Acts 17:3) to this hour and the cross, a necessity that was filled with pain and agony such that Christ would ask that this cup be taken from him (Matt. 26:38-42). The agony was so great that he sweat great drops of blood (Lk. 22:44). And on the cross, Jesus uttered the painful yet ever-trusting cry, “why have you forsaken me” (Matt. 27:46).

Although these matters are true, Jesus also willingly and joyfully obeyed: “Your will be done” (Matt. 26:39-42, which is the same willing and joyful dependency acknowledged by all believers as noted in the Lord’s Model Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done [Matt. 6:10].) For the joy set before him he endured the cross (Heb. 12:2) and as the Son he delighted to do his Father’s will (Heb. 10:6-10, cf. Ps. 40:6-8). This is the reason for which Christ came, so the cross culminates his consuming mission, that the Father should glorify His own name, even and especially in this hour (Jn. 12:28).

Five Key Truths

D. A. Carson helpfully points out five key truths of these verses, which I include with a longer summarizing quote in point 5 (The Gospel According to John, 442-445).

  1. The passion/glorification of the Son is the time for judgment on this world.
  2. The passion/glorification is also the time when the prince of this world will be driven out.
  3. The passion/glorification of Jesus is equivalent to Jesus’ being lifted up from the earth.
  4. The consequence of this passion/glorification, the death/exaltation, is that Jesus will draw all men to Himself.
  5. This dramatic development twice comes under the powerful Now (v. 31).  This adverb not only ties these verses back to vv. 23, 27, but emphasizes the eschatological nature of the events that are impending.  The judgment of the world, the destruction of Satan, the exaltation of the Son of Man, the drawing of men and women from the ends of the earth – these might all be reserved for the end times.  But the end times have begun already.  It is not that there is nothing reserved for the consummation; rather, it is that the decisive step is about to be taken in the death/exaltation of Jesus.

Application

On this Maundy Thursday, ponder the hour. Pray now.