On this Holy Saturday we reflect that on this day Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. For all practical purposes it was over. Satan and Sin had defeated Jesus, righteousness, and love. That’s how it seemed.. And if we’re. It careful, we’ll skim over the sufferings of Christ to the resurrection of Christ.. I think I am tempted to do that because resurrection feels awesome. Who doesn’t want to be brought back to life! Resurrection is supernatural and inspiring.. Suffering and Death is so ... well ... normal and ... oppressive.. And yet when we intentionally posture ourselves to more deeply consider the sufferings if Christ we realize that just like his death and suffering, our death and sufferings have a way of opening our eyes to the frailty of life, the weakness of the body, and the seemingly chaotic lack of control we actually have of our lives.. It looked like Jesus had lost control of everything and why not? He was killed and did nothing about it.
- When I experience death, sin, and suffering, I usually walk one of two roads of response:
1. ABANDONMENT - Meaning - because I’m experiencing suffering and God is “sovereign over all,” I’m done with God .. If he can’t love my loved ones and me enough to save them, heal them, or reform them so that this ache and pain would evaporate.. then it’s not worth my emotional and spiritual investment (risk) to continue giving him my attention and affection.. In short: “I’m done with you God until you change this.”
2. IDENTIFICATION - I choose, (Key word here) CHOOSE .. to consider that my sufferings are not at all unlike Jesus’ sufferings.. In fact they’re less than his sufferings and yet He remained faithful to the Father through the fulfilling of the work of the cross. Meaning - When we identify with Christ’s sufferings, we’re actually willing to Go There With Jesus in such a way that we’re intentionally trying to put ourselves in his shoes - hearing false accusations through his ears, watching trusted friends flee in fear through his eyes, and as best as we could ... feel the anguish of his punishment and crucifixion through our own shadow of prior or present experiences of physical anguish and pain.
LAST NIGHT at our church we journeyed together through the sufferings to try to do that very thing.. IDENTIFY with him there.. Go With Him There. Below is the thoughts we walked through.. I pray they posture you well as they have me this weekend.
Good Friday Sequence
Tonight we’re going to do something very specific and I believe it will help us in our appreciation of what Jesus has done for us. There are times in this season when I think about what Jesus did on the cross for me and it’s technical in nature, like: “Yeah I am a sinner, sin separates me from God, Jesus died for my sins, so that I could be saved and I am.” While that’s a great foundation, it’s not relational. It’s informational. Now is information important, yes.. Truth is information right and the truth sets us free.. But truth is also a person, Jesus, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life.” Jesus is also the logos of God.. the very word, life, and power of God.. WHen we read scripture, we’re in someway, reading Christ.
The transactional part of Jesus work is absolutely the core of how God has saved us, but we have to look at the relational part of Jesus’ work for us to truly appreciate why he saved us.
You can’t have one or the other. TRUTH is technical and TRUTH is personal. TRUTH is transactional and TRUTH is relational. Jesus accomplished something technical and he accomplished something relational.
And it is the Transaction of Jesus’ work that gives us access to the Father, But it’s the relational work of Jesus that draws us near in relationship to the Father.
So we’re going to invest few minutes in putting ourselves as best we can in Jesus’ shoes.
We will do that just like we would anyone else who has suffered, rejoiced, cried, mourned, shout for joy, etc.
Scripture tells us to Rejoice with those who Rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.. Why?
So that we can be there with people. That’s what it means to be present with someone. I struggle with this everyday with my kids.. CONFESSION.. We all do right? Especially in this “face in phone” culture we live.
But being present is one of the most precious gifts we can give to one another. We can draw near to their hurt, joy, … And when we show that we’re willing to go there with them to that place of pain, we’re communicating that we truly love them. To endure pain becuase it happened to you is normal, but to endure someone else’s pain so that you can love them more deeply is abnormal. And it’s the bedrock of what Jesus did.. He experienced sin for the first time on the cross.. We forget that.. We think about Adam & Eve being perfect then experiencing rebellion in their heart for the first time and we’re astounded.. And yet teh same thing happened to JEsus and it passes us by. My sin consumed his heart.. It’s remarkable, supernatural even..
You might say “I get that, but Jesus is alive, why are we spending so much time on death and not life?”
Paul said: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
Peter wrote: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
When we fellowship with Jesus in his sufferings, Paul says we attain the same resurrection of Jesus which means that we can’t be raised from the dead if we haven’t died:) Fellowshiping with Jesus in his sufferings helps us to remember that we deserved death and didn’t get it. That should do something in us.
When we share in Christ sufferings, we’re given the opportunity to express faith and trust in the goodness of the Father in the midst, just like Jesus did. And when we do, we receive the blessing of joy like Jesus did.. And when we see Jesus face to face, we will have no regrets because we didn’t abandon him when we suffered. He didn’t abandon us in his sufferings, we cling to him in ours.
I believe that the more we can go there with Jesus in his sufferings, the more we will respond with humility, gratitude, and worship because we’ve been resurrected with him in his resurrection.
It will be a basic format..
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[g]
Have you ever prayed for God to “remove a cup” of suffering or pain from you and He didn’t?
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Has there been a time when you were betrayed?
Was there ever reconciliation?
Do you still experience the sting of that betrayal today?
Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Have you ever been abandoned (or felt abandoned) by someone you trusted or someone close to you?
Jesus Before Pilate
23 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The Death of Jesus
44 It was now about the sixth hour,[e] and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Have you experienced the power of his sufferings?
Have you experienced the life of his resurrection?