Sermon for Good Friday

Text: John 19:16-18a
He (Jesus) went out, carrying his cross, and came to "The Place of the Skull," as it is called. (In Hebrew it is called "Golgotha.") There they crucified him.

Nailed for us

There is a story about a pastor having a cup of coffee in a small café when an old man, sat opposite him, looking sad and downhearted.  The minister started talking to the man and soon the conversation turned to spiritual matters. 
“Have you heard about the man Jesus?” the minister asked, not wanting to come on with anything too heavy to start the conversation.
“Yes, I have,” the man replied.
“What have you heard about him?”
“I’ve heard that he died on a cross.”
The minister asked, “For whom did Jesus die?”
“For sinners, of course.”
“Yes, but could you be more definite?  Mention one sinner for whom Jesus died.”

After thinking a while the man said, “How am I supposed to know the answer to a question like that?”

St Paul simply says, “He died for all” (2 Cor 5:14). Jesus came and died for the world, for every person in the past, now and in the future. There is no greater truth than this.  But like the man who spoke with the minister, each of us individually must come to the realisation, “It was my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross”. 

The crucifixion is not about some poor unfortunate man who became caught up in the politics of the Jews and Romans and ended up dead.  This is not a day for feeling sorry for Jesus.  This isn’t a memorial service for the death of an innocent man.

This is the day we remember and celebrate that Jesus died because of our faults, failures, our sin – your sin, my sin.  That’s what makes Good Friday a great day.

When Jesus gasped his last words, “It is finished”, he was stating that with his death the task he had been sent to do – to bring forgiveness and salvation into the world – was now complete. 
God’s plan of saving people from the evil that sin had brought into their lives, including death;
God’s plan of reconciling to himself his people who had rejected him and the way he designed humanity to live, had now reached its fulfilment.  

Jesus died the death that we should die; he suffered what we should suffer.  He died to free us from the power of sin and death to condemn us and send us to eternal death.  He died to renew our relationship with God, to wipe out our guilt, to open the way to eternal life.

Jesus’ suffering and death was horrible, brutal, cruel, bloody, sickening – enough to make us turn our eyes away from the man whose love for us is so persistent, so warm and so sincere. 
The barbarity and inhumanity shown to Jesus that day makes us hang our heads in shame that a human could be so cruel and bloody-minded to another human.
Yet today we are drawn to the cross, we focus on images of Jesus being nailed to the cross because we know that he went through all of this because his extreme love for every one of us.  The Son of God almighty was willing to give up everything for people who least deserve it – even those who mocked and scourged him on that first Good Friday.

The service today will retell the events of Christ’s passion and in the telling of this we realise again that it was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

As we listen to the passion story and the meditations and then prayer,
let’s use this time to reflect not only on the great suffering Jesus endured but also on the great love our Saviour has for us.

Let’s once again focus on his desire that all people turn to the cross and trust in his love for them and say with the man who was crucified alongside Jesus, that prayer of repentance, “Jesus remember me, when you come not your kingdom”

Today, as we reflect on the cross and the reason for it, we make this prayer our prayer – “Jesus remember me”.
Without any excuse and without any pretence of somehow being better than we are, and acknowledging our own weakness and vulnerability to fail God and those around us again and again, like the man on the cross next to Jesus, we appeal to God's mercy and grace and ask, “Jesus remember me”, “Jesus, don’t hold my sin against me”, “Jesus, don’t forget me”, “Jesus, have mercy on me”.

And like the thief on the cross, we will also hear the words of assurance, “Father, forgive them”, “You will be with me in Paradise”.  When we come forward for Communion and receive the body and blood of Jesus we are renewed and reassured of God’s love & forgiveness.

It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross, but it is also our loving Saviour who remembers us, loves us, forgives us and renews us as people of his kingdom.

NB The sermon can finish here or make use of the Tiaze song.  This song became a response throughout the reading of the Passion Account on this occasion.

Let’s listen to the prayer of the thief and then let’s all join and sing it together and make it our prayer – “Jesus, remember me”.

Jesus remember me
© Ateliers et Presses de Taizé, 71250 Talzé.Communauté, France.

Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom.

 

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
E-mail: gerhardy65@hotmail.com

14th April 2017

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