Project Description

Good Friday
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 / Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 / John 18:1-19:42

Jesus is a completely—
and even bizarre religious figure.

How so?

Well, Jesus is unique in many different ways. . . .

Some of his demands are certainly unique—
Unless you eat my body and drink my blood
there is no life within you

Definitely unique!!!

Some of his claims are certainly unique—
I am the way, the truth and the life.

No, other religious figure makes such claims or demands

But there is another way—
there is something else about Jesus—
that makes Jesus even more peculiar
when compared to other religious figures.

And that’s the way He died.

It’s Jesus’ Crucifixion that really sets
Him apart from the other
prominent religious figures.

You know how the Buddha “died”?

The Buddha died a very serene and controlled death. . . .

He passed calmly out of his final rebirth into nirvana.

But look at Jesus—
look at His death.

A death with extreme—
extreme physical and mental anguish.
Whipped and beaten and nailed to a tree. . .

Mocked and shamed and humiliated. . . .

Abandoned by His people—
Even by most of his followers—
Feeling abandoned even by God.

He wasn’t even allowed the dignity of
a true human executioner.

You see, the crucified one became his own executioner.

His own body turns against itself—
eventually unable to pull itself up to breathe—
His own body asphyxiating itself.

Hanging from the Cross—
Grasping for Breath—
Until it is finished.

You know,
today the rage would rightly be relentless
even if an animal was killed in such a way.

You see—
it’s the Crucifixion—
it’s the Cross
that makes Jesus such an anomaly
among religious figures.

What about Judaism?

What does Judaism say about
the possibility of crucified Messiah?

Well, there is absolutely no precedent at all—
of a Messiah who dies—
especially one who dies as a criminal—
especially one who dies hanging from a tree.
Cursed is the man—
the Torah says—
is the man who hangs from a tree. (Deuteronomy 21:23)

And what do the Muslims think of
Jesus being crucified?

To the Muslims—
Jesus is a great prophet.

But the idea of a great prophet like Jesus
being crucified.

Well, that just can’t be.

That’s why the crucifixion has to be just some
made-up story.

So, Muslims traditionalists reject
the crucifixion story outright.

Such a story of crucifixion for
Jesus the prophet would
be an affront to Allah.

And what about the Hindus.

What is the fate of Jesus for them?

The Hindus can accept only a Jesus who
passes into peaceful samadhi—

A real avoidance of death—
especially a horrifying one—

As Jesus’ spirit is transformed into a oneness—
a state of enlightened self-consciousness.

But an agonizing death—
no way.

The popular Buddhist monk and author
Thich Nhat Hanh said this about the crucified Christ.

He said it was such a painful image for him—

The crucified Jesus is so hard for him to look at.

And according to this Buddhist monk
it’s a story that doesn’t do justice
to such an enlightened teacher.

The Crucifixion just doesn’t give Jesus his due.
(From, Newsweek, The Other Jesus, Kenneth Woodward, 3/26/00)
Doesn’t give Him due????

My, how different we Christians
think of the Crucifixion..

What a completely different notion of God—
What a different notion of salvation we have.

As a matter of fact,
In John’s Gospel—
the Crucifixion
is called Jesus’ hour of glory.

Did you hear that?

The Crucifixion is Jesus’ hour of glory.

That’s why Good Friday is such a crucial—
crucial day in our faith.

One commentator noted that if people (Fleming Rutledge)
really knew how important
Good Friday was for all of humanity—
there would be just as many people here for
Good Friday services as there are for Easter.

If people really knew—
humanity would take a bigger and
more solemn pause today.

Here, on Good Friday,
we Christians proclaim a degraded—
a condemned—a crucified person as the Son of God—
as the Savior of the world.
And it is the Savior’s hour of Glory.

Because all over the New Testament—
it is proclaimed that Jesus’ death—
His crucifixion—
was for our salvation.

That somehow his Crucifixion
makes up for our sins.

That’s why Jesus’ death was
so terrible and horrifying.

It stands in direct correlation to the
shameful conduct of the human race.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away
the sins of the world—
our sins.

That’s why Good Friday—
that’s why the Crucifixion of Jesus—
is the day of glory for Jesus.

It’s a day of glory because today it is revealed
that self-less-ness—
in the end—
defeats self-ish-ness.

It is revealed that love—
in the end—
defeats hate and meanness.

It is revealed that goodness—
in the end—
defeats evil.

The Crucifixion saves us from ourselves.

It is Jesus’ hour of glory.

My, how different Jesus is from
other religious figures of human history.
And my—my—
how different God’s way—
how different Jesus’ way—
of bringing about justice to the world is
than our ways of bringing about justice.

This is from the Suffering Servant Songs in
the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.

Christians almost immediately
identified this figure as Jesus.

God says through the great Prophet Isaiah
that He has a chosen One—

One in whom He has placed His Spirit.

One who will bring final justice—
to the world.

And listen to how God’s Chosen One
will bring final justice to the World.

And I quote:

Just listen . . .

Not by making his voice heard in the street.

Not [by] crying out. . . not [by] shouting.

A bruised reed he will not break.

A smoldering wick he will not quench.

He will give his back to those who beat him . . .

And give his cheeks to those who pluck his beard. . . .

He will not shield his face from buffets and spitting.

It’s the Crucifixion.

It’s the Crucifixion.

So, Brothers and Sisters in Christ—
as we come to adore the cross—

We can give great thanks to God that He chose. . . .

A most unexpected—

A most incredible—

A most merciful—

A most loving way—

To bring about ultimate justice to humanity—
To save us.

Because now—
no matter what our fate—
none of us will get what we truly deserve.

How different . . .

How unique. . . .

What an anomaly in the
history of human religious thought—

is Jesus and His Crucifixion

Holy Spirit 04/19/19