This sermon was preached at Boerne First United Methodist Church on Good Friday, March 21, 2008.
I was reading on the internet a review of a movie earlier this week when I came upon a warning, in bold print. WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD. What they meant was they were about to tell me the way the movie came out. So if I didn’t want to know how the story ended, I shouldn’t read any more. Knowing how the story ends, takes away from the suspense and emotion of the movie.
I think the same can be said for the passion story.
I have heard it said that we cannot experience the ecstasy and joy of Easter, unless we experience the pain and despair of the crucifixion.
It is an basic part of our human make-up that we try to avoid pain and we seek out pleasure. But it is also true that healing and growth often require pain and sacrifice.
So, tonight, let us listen to the testimony of some of the principle actors in the Good Friday events. We will hear from them as they speak to us on Saturday---the day after the crucifixion, the day before what we call Easter. So at that point, they did not know about the Resurrection
We know that the Jewish day began at sunset. So, “Friday” actually began on our Thursday evening. It included the Last Supper and ended at Sunset the next day.
Our first witness is Peter:
“This is the worst day of my life. First, Jesus wanted to wash my feet and I wouldn’t let him. Then I begged him to wash my feet. I had a hard time knowing what was expected of me. Then Jesus asked me to pray with him when we got to the garden. And, of all things, I fell asleep. The next thing I know the Temple Guard is there, arresting Jesus. I was ready to fight them off, but Jesus said no. Then, early in the morning (or very late last night) I said I didn’t even know him. --- not once, but three times. I was so scared. I wish I’d never been born. And I ran away and hid. Then they killed him on a cross.
WHY DO YOU CALL THIS GOOD FRIDAY?"
And hear from his mother, Mary:
I worried so much for him, especially those last days. There had been times in his life when our family felt like he was going too far. We tried to help him, but he wouldn’t listen. When he created that ruckus in the temple, earlier this week,I think that was the last straw.
So today as I watched him dying on that cross. I felt like I was dying too. I wish I could have taken his place. My heart has been crushed. I loved him so, and now he is gone. Any mother knows how I feel.
WHY DO YOU CALL THIS GOOD FRIDAY?
Then there was the Roman soldier:
I never wanted to come to this country. And when I got here I was appalled to be assigned to execution squad. Once, my son was terribly ill, and having heard about Jesus, I asked him to heal my son. And he did. That is why I find it so hard to understand why these people wanted to kill Jesus. I watched as my men whipped him. I saw him struggle as he went to Golgotha. It was incredible. Here he was, seemingly despised and hated by everyone, and he asked his Father God to forgive everyone. Then the earth began to move from under my feet, and the sky was covered with a blanket of darkness. I was surprised when I heard my self say, “Surely this is the Son of God.” And then he died.
WHY DO YOU CALL THIS GOOD FRIDAY?
We call this Good Friday because we see all these events with Resurrection Eyes. But Resurrection eyes can see the risen Lord, only with the cross in the background.
As I heard someone say earlier today, “We know how it all turned out.” So for us the horrible things that happened on that day are more easily accepted. We may want to minimize the suffering of Jesus. We may want to run away from that cross and hide, like his disciples did. But we cannot; not if our salvation has any real meaning.
So here, on this night of all nights, may we meditate and give thanks for the overwhelming sacrifice of love which Jesus give to us.
We call this day Good Friday, because what Jesus did this day and every day of his life, was to erase the condemnation of sin from each of us.