The Cost of Good Friday

April 3, 2015

Sometimes we hear people refer to the gift of Easter, and on
Sunday we are going to reflect on the generosity that made Easter a reality for
us, and for the gifts that are extended to us because of the resurrection.  But that is Sunday and this is Friday. 
You see there couldn’t be a Sunday without a Friday.  Easter Sunday couldn’t and wouldn’t exist
without Good Friday.  Because every gift,
at least every gift that is truly a gift must cost somebody something.  It might be time, it might be money but there
is a cost there.  And so before Jesus
could be raised from the dead he had to die, before we can accept the gift of
salvation a debt has to be paid, in order for a sacrifice to be acceptable
there has to be a cost to the person making the sacrifice.  Without a cost it might be a nice gesture but
it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.
It was British playwright John
Osborne who said “The whole point of a
sacrifice is that you give up something you never really wanted in the first
place.”    But that isn’t really
sacrifice, And on the Friday of the Passover weekend, the concept of a
sacrifice would be understood. 
Jews from around the world would have gathered in Jerusalem
to worship God and offer sacrifices as a part of that worship.  And while we might not be able to get our
heads around the concept of animal sacrifice today, that was the norm two
thousand years ago.  And so on that
weekend there were lambs and pigeons that were brought to the temple and bought
at the temple for the express purpose of being offered to God as a sacrifice in
the temple.  And each of those animals
cost somebody something.  There were also
financial offerings that were given that weekend, and regardless of how much it
represented for the person who gave, that money could have been spent somewhere
else on something else. 
And so before we can get to Sunday and see the gifts that
were given we are going to settle in for a little bit on this Good Friday to
see what those gifts cost.
Three years before this chapter
of Jesus’ story would conclude, it began and the story was defined by probably
most memorized verse in the bible.  John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he
gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish
but have eternal life.  Listen to
that again, John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he
gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish
but have eternal life.  For those
of us who are parents here is the question: who is there in the world that you
loved so much that you would willingly sacrifice one of your children for them?
And so the first point is the
most obvious point and that is Friday
Cost the Father His Son
The Trinity and the nature of God is and will
remain a mystery to us until our eyes are opened on the other side of
eternity.  How can one God exist as three
persons?  How can there be a Son who has always
been? 
I have always maintained that a
God that we could explain or understand would not be much of a God.  I don’t understand everything about my smart
car, I can’t explain how my computer works and don’t even get me started on my
lack of understanding of women. And that’s all right.   And yet we have the desire to be able to
understand and explain the greatest mystery of the universe. 
And we may not understand it
completely, but we can understand the relationship that exists between a parent
and a child, that we can understand. And as parents we can understand how we
feel when our child is bullied or hurt and for some of you, you can even
understand the pain of losing a child. 
And if you knew that your child
would suffer humiliation and physical pain and separation from you that would
be heart breaking.  Even if you knew that
in the end it would be all right, you wouldn’t want your child to go through
that. 
But that is what happened on
Good Friday, and God the Father’s heart must have been broken when he heard his
Son call out from the cross, Mark
15:34
Then at three o’clock Jesus called out
with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God,
my God, why have you abandoned me?”
 Can you imagine having your child think you
had turned your back on them in their time of greatest need?
But it wasn’t just the Father that paid a price on
Friday.  You see  Friday
Cost the Son His Life 
And I know
from our perspective we might be thinking “Yeah, but on Sunday he rose
again.”  True but on Friday Jesus
died.  And he didn’t just die peacefully
in his sleep or suddenly without notice. 
Sometimes in the case of a sudden death you will hear folks say “But
luckily they didn’t suffer.” 
The reality is that Christ did suffer.  He suffered emotionally as the religious
leaders and the political leaders lied about him and his executioners mocked
him. 
He suffered physically through the punishment that was
heaped upon him.  If you read through the
accounts from the four gospels, they spit on him, they beat him with their
fists, they slapped him, they whipped him, they jammed a crown made from large
thorns unto his head, they pulled his beard and then they nailed him to a
cross.  And he hung for hours under the
hot sun, listening to the crowd that had gathered mock him as he slowly and
painfully suffocated. 
And he knew it was going to
happen. Let’s read a conversation that Jesus had with the 12 in Matthew 20:17-19 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he
took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to
happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son
of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious
law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans
to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will
be raised from the dead.”
And just hours before in the
Garden of Gethsemane he had cried out to his Father, Luke
22:41-42
He (Jesus) walked away, about a stone’s
throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this
cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
And often we stop there, we talk about what Good Friday cost
the Father and what Good Friday cost the Son.  
But it went deeper than that. 
Friday Cost Peter His
Pride 
Peter, Peter, Peter.  Peter was Jesus closest friend, one of the
first of the 12.  It was Pete that Jesus
confined in, it was Peter who walked on the water with Jesus, it was Peter’s
Mother in Law who Jesus healed.  Peter
was there from the beginning and as the end of the story was drawing near, when
Jesus celebrated the Passover with the twelve it was Peter who vowed that he
would be there at the end.  That he would
never deny Christ and that he would willing give up his life in defence of his
best friend. 
But Jesus had never asked Peter to die for him, he had simply
asked Peter to live for him, and at the end of the day Peter did neither. 
If you don’t know the story Peter, has three opportunities
to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus. 
And three times Peter denies that he even knows who Jesus is.  And as Peter denies his best friend for the
third time he turns and looks into the eyes of that very friend.
And he saw everything that he had learned and everything he
had witnessed over the past three years washed away.  How could he ever be more than a fisherman
after what had happened?  How could he be
forgiven?  How could he ever speak the
name again of the one who he denied in his greatest time of need?
And so Peter was a very different man at the end of the
Friday than he was on Thursday when he pulled out a sword and attempted to take
on the entire group who had come to arrest Jesus. 
I’m sure the question was burning deep in Peter’s heart; What
must Jesus think of me?
And so on Friday Peter represents every one of us who has
ever failed in our Christian walk, who has ever denied Christ by our actions
and feels deep within our hearts that we can never face Jesus again. 
Friday Cost Jerusalem its Future  On Sunday I spoke about Jesus weeping over the
people of Jerusalem.  The incident is
recorded in Luke 19:41-44 But as they came closer to Jerusalem and
Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all
people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is
hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against
your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will
crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not
leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for
salvation.”
The gospel tell us that one of the fears that sparked the
religious authorities to have Jesus arrested and killed was a fear of the
Romans. They were afraid of how the occupying army would view this popular
young preacher and how they might react.
Forty years later their worst fears were realized when the
Roman armies destroyed the city of Jerusalem.  And when Jesus prophesized about that event he
lays the blame at the feet of those who had rejected him.  And while that seems harsh it goes back to
what happens tomorrow reflects the choices we make today.  And on that Friday afternoon 2000 years ago
Jerusalem choose to reject the one who had come to bring peace.
History tells us when Titus the Roman General who led the
destruction of Jerusalem was offered the victor’s wreath he declined the honour
saying that he had simply served as an instrument for the wrath of God. 
So understand that Jerusalem
becomes an analogy for those who would reject Christ.  Jesus is not “a way” to God, Jesus is “The
Way” to God.  That is why he told his
followers in John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth,
and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  Who can come to the Father by a route
other than Jesus?  According to Jesus no
one. 
And that broke Jesus’ heart, the
reality that the very ones who he gave his life for would reject the grace that
he had to offer.
 And so as we gather
to remember this morning we remember the cost of that Friday morning almost
2000 years ago, a morning that cost the Father his Son, cost the Son his Life,
cost Peter his Pride and cost those who rejected Jesus their future. 
And today is Friday, but Sunday is coming as we celebrate
not the cost of the crucifixion but the generous gifts of the Resurrection.