It’s Good Friday today and I thought I would give you a run down of what happened and what it tells us about true love. Most of the info here is adapted from The Virtual Preacher (see the bibliography for more information).
On Good Friday Jesus had already had the sham trial Matthew 27:11-26 then the Pharisees also encouraged the crowd to request that Barrabas be released instead of Jesus. The Soldiers had whipped Jesus to within an inch of His life sentenced to Crucifixion and was now carrying the cross on the way to the Crucifixion site. Here’s where we will begin:
True Love Is Doing As Well As Feeling
(Matthew 27:27-32 NLT) “ Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him.  They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!”  And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it.  When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.  Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.
The Bible doesn’t reveal much about the identity of Simon except he was from a city called Cyrene in North Africa, probably a an African convert who came on pilgrimage during Passover.
Why was Simon reluctant to take the cross and help Jesus?
- It was considered an unclean task as the cross was drenched with Jesus’ blood and other body fluids.
- It was also difficult because the beam weighed over 300 pounds.
- It was also embarrassing because only criminals condemned to death carried a cross. It was a sign of mockery.
- It was also inconvenient.
The short story of what Simon of Cyrene shows that cannot truly be Jesus’ disciples unless we are willing to step out of the comfort zone. Being a follower of Jesus is not about the sacraments and pilgrimages. They are nice but real love is kinaesthetic, it’s an action as much as a feeling. Jesus died for us, which is an action that is how Jesus demonstrated devotion to us. For our part in Luke Jesus said:
(Luke 9:23 NLT) “ Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
True Love Puts Others First
(Matthew 27:33-34 NLT) “ And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”).  The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.”
Gall was a pain killer in Jesus’ day. It was mixed with the wine to make it drinkable, women often offered it to the person being executed to dull the pain. Having lost a lot of blood from the sourging and having been nailed to the cross Jesus and was thirty but refused to drink the gall mixed with wine.
Why did Jesus refuse to drink?
- Jesus was determined to complete His mission of fulfilling the law
- Jesus did not want to compromise the mission in any way by doing things that would have made it easier than it should have been.
- Jesus was committed to take the full extent of our pain, sorrow and shame because He considered that more important than His!
Jesus also showed us that real love is sacrificial and not self seeking, just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT) “ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
True Love Stands In The Gap Between The Beloved And Trouble
(Matthew 27:35-54 NLT) “ After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.  Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.  A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”  Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery.  “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus.  “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!  He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”  Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.  At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.  At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, [“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”] which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.  One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink.  But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”  Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.  At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,  and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.  They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.  The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!””
Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400 BC and was used by the Romans as a punishment for the most serious criminals. Death by crucifixion was slow and agonizing. The victims were crucified naked and in public which was humiliating, as you can see from the above people taunted Jesus.
Victims of crucifixion endured dehydration, blood loss due to flogging, shock from the pain and paroxysms (follow this link to find out what that word means), as they pulled up with their arms and pushed with their legs to keep their chest cavity open for breathing and then collapsed in exhaustion. The eventual cause of death from crucifixion was: suffocation, cardiac arrest, loss of blood or all of above.
What is the significance of crucifixion?
- It was a symbol of God’s curse on sin.
- The bodies of those crucified were left to the birds. They were not given a burial. This is also considered a curse from God.
- These factors indicate that Jesus stood in the gap and took the curse of God which we rightfully deserved on himself.
Jesus Christ took our curse upon himself and paid the price for our sin. Jesus stood in the gap between us and what we had coming to us. Our atonement to and relationship with Jesus God the Son and God the Father and God the Holy Spirit is made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Isaiah put it eloquently:
(Isaiah 53:5 NLT) “ But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
Summary On True Love Displayed In The Good Friday Message
This Good Friday message gives us an example of the three distinct types of commitments of love displayed by Jesus:
True love is doing as well as feeling – This means a commitment for us to be willing to take a stand for Jesus not just say we are Christians, act like it.
True love puts others first – This means a commitment to be faithful: don’t compromise in times of crisis, always put Jesus first regardless.
True love stands in the gap: For me this just shows me how selfless Jesus was and what an example it is for us in our relationships with other humans, regardless of what kind of relationship it is. This shows also a commitment to be just as committed to Jesus as Jesus is to us and just to allow Jesus to love you and just enjoy being loved!
The type of commitment you need to make will vary depending on where you are in your life with Christ. Which one of these commitments do you think you need to make?
Have a happy Good Friday!
The Virtual Preacher. 2019. ‘Good Friday Sermon, Watching Jesus Die – Part 1’, The Virtual Preacher Website, at: <https://www.virtualpreacher.org/sermon-outlines/good-friday-sermon-2011-part-1/> 19 April 2019