This is a preach written for a Good Friday service at my placement church in 2018.
Good afternoon all, hope you all have a had a good day so far. Today we look back on this day and think of Jesus dying on the cross, the saviour of the world laying himself down and dying a sinner’s death. Now for the past number of weeks we have been looking at ‘Characters of Faith’, so I figured it would be good to talk about the ‘Characteristics of Christ’, I’m going to bring up a few points, and hopefully we can take something away from it all. Does that sound like a plan? Fantastic.
The first point which we’ll be bringing up is ‘Deity’ and the reason for that is that Jesus himself was and is God. We see this throughout the majority of the New Testament. We see this in Colossians where Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and in him in all things were created (Col. 1:15-16). And especially within the first few verses of John we read that:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. – John 1:1-4
What I find most incredible about this alone, is that from the offset John makes it abundantly very clear that not only was Jesus with God in the beginning, but He in fact was God! Jesus was with God during the creation of the universe and Jesus was there when God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness!” Whilst Jesus was doing His time on earth, He would speak and say things that would garner a lot of controversy. In John’s gospel again, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and it says this:
Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am! – John 8:56-58
And whenever Jesus said those two words, ‘I am’ or if you’re Greek εγω ειμι, everybody say εγω ειμι (see, now you’ve definitely learned something!), whenever Jesus said those two words, people got upset. This is because these words are heavily related to God in Exodus where Moses asks for God’s name and God responds ‘I AM, WHO I AM’ so since then, those words were heavily associated with God. No one would have used these words unless they wanted to get hurt by the religious leaders of the day. But Jesus uses these words throughout his life on earth. He told people ‘I am the Great Shepherd’, ‘I am the Light of the World’, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. Then finally, when He was arrested, the Pharisees confront him and begin to interrogate him in Mark’s gospel, it says:
…the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Mark 14:61-62
And for the Pharisees, that was the last straw. They tore their clothes, they took him to Pilate and then Jesus Christ, the Lord was beaten and crucified. The sovereign Lord of all the earth, the God of all creation died the most painful death that could ever be experienced. What that means for us today is that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, so we know that if we’re for him than nothing will be able to stand against us. That we can have total comfort knowing that Jesus is on our side and will do anything for us. Even this excruciating death.
The next point I want to bring is Jesus’ humanity, if we go back to John’s introduction he writes that:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
I really like how John writes in this section, the Word became flesh. God became a human being. Now whenever we think of Jesus, we tend to think of him as someone who hovers around and blesses people. But Jesus was fully God and fully man. That means that Jesus got angry, that means that Jesus got hungry, thirsty, and even tired. He even got scared.
When we see Jesus in the Mount of Olives, we don’t see Jesus hovering around saying words of wisdom. We see a man, terrified of what is to come. He prays ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…’ He does not want to go through this pain and torment on the cross. But yet He continues ‘… yet not my will, but yours be done.’ It then says this in Luke’s Gospel.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. – Luke 22:44
Jesus, was truly terrified on what was to happen within the next 24 hours. He knew everything that was going to happen and he could imagine every thorn, and every nail. But He pushed on and took on that pain, for all of us. What I find incredible is that Jesus was fully God, so He knows everything we have done, but He is fully human, so He knows exactly what we are going through. It says in Hebrews that:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15
Jesus can see us in the struggle, whatever it may be. And He welcomes us, with open arms and He is wanting to counsel us and to care for us. He is just waiting for us to run towards him.
The next point we have is humility. Even though Jesus is King of Kings and He says that He is God, we still see him as a very humble man. The author of the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis says this about Jesus’ humility:
Yet… even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is “humble and meek” and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings. – C.S. Lewis
When Jesus was here on this earth, He could have done anything He wanted. He tells his disciples in the Mount of Olives that He can summon 12 legions of angels to protect him. But He knew why He came to this world, as Paul writes:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus took on death. He did not have to do this. If there was anyone that did not deserve to die, it was Jesus. But His love and compassion shone through, as I already mentioned Jesus could have called upon those twelve legions of angels, and every time I think of Jesus suffering He could have very easily called on them at any given moment. When Jesus was flogged, He could’ve done it. When the crown of thorns was put on His head, He could’ve done it. When people laughed and mocked him, whilst hanging on the cross, instead of calling on them He said these profound words:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
How hard is it for us, to forgive our enemies? Yet Jesus, forgave those who rejected him. Jesus lowered himself to serve not only his friends but his enemies. What does that mean for us? We are told to be within the same mindset of Jesus, and as we see Jesus, he gave everything he had, and he lowered himself to serve others. So that means for us today to be able to serve one another with that same love that Jesus gave for those people around him all those years ago.
The final point which I want to bring is Duty. What was Jesus’ duty when he came to earth. What was his purpose and mission? This world that we live in, has lost connection with God. This world has fallen short of God’s standard, and it needs a saviour and that is Jesus has done for us. He himself says this pretty well in Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost – Luke 19:10
Jesus came so that people that are lost in their own mistakes, can go to the cross and leave their sin there. His duty was to get people to have a relationship with God.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17
So what does that mean for us today? What does that mean for us today on Good Friday? Well that means for us that we now have a duty, to live a life worthy of the good news of Jesus. So that other people can hear about the life changing sacrifice that our God, our friend did for us so that we may have a life with him.
I’ll just close with a prayer now.
Lord God, thank you that you sent you Holy Son to this world so that he can live the perfect life for us. Thank you God you sent him to die the death that we deserve. We thank you for allowing us to now live in a life free of sin and full of your amazing grace. I just pray that as we leave this afternoon, that we can remain blessed and remain within your love, because there is nowhere better than being by your side. In Jesus’ name we ask for all of this and more.