Good Friday 2024

2024 Messages

In this message Dave Bruskas, Director of Re:generation, asks, “What do we do with Good Friday? What should be our response?” He then focuses our attention on the cross of Christ. When we come to Holy Week, we can often run past the cross to the resurrection. But the death of Christ is crucial for us and our salvation.

Dave BruskasMar 29, 2024Matthew 27:45-51; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 10:17-18; Hebrews 10:19-22

In This Series (5)
When Someone You Love Is Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 2
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 12, 2024
When You’re Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 1
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 5, 2024
Easter 2024 | John 11:17-44
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 31, 2024
Good Friday 2024
Dave BruskasMar 29, 2024
Vision Sunday 2024
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 7, 2024

Key Takeaways

Jesus on the cross is the One who, for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:1), suffered as a willing substitute in the place of sinners so that he, the perfectly righteous and obedient Son, could pay for the payment of sin for all those who trust in him. This is what theologians call, “The Great Exchange,” for “[God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

When Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was fulfilling Psalm 22 as the One forsaken to death. In this moment, the eternal Son was not separated from his Father, for there could be no break in the Holy Trinity, but he was left to suffer and die in the place of sinners. In this act, Jesus experienced (1) the suffering of taking sin upon himself and the physical pain of agonizing torture (Matt. 27:45-46), (2) contempt and shame from bystanders that shows the polarizing impact of the cross (Matt 27:47-49), and (3) willing submission as the Creator became the created in order to voluntarily die for sin (Matt 27:50; John 10:17-18).

As a result, the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt 27:51), which signified that God graciously did all that was necessary for us to have access to and draw near to him through faith in Christ, the One who made the way into his presence (Heb 10:19-22). From this we see that being in the presence of God is not a goal to be achieved, but a gift to be received through trusting in Christ.

So what do we do with Good Friday? We draw near to God with empty hands and expectant hearts because of who Jesus is and what he has done through his death on the cross. Will you draw near to God today?

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  1. Do you sometimes think that drawing near God is a goal to be achieved? Why can’t you achieve it? Why is it good news that it’s a gift to be received? How should this cultivate thankfulness in your life?
  2. What does Jesus’s suffering and death mean to you? Pray and ask God to make it more precious to you.
  3. Like the bystanders’ response, the cross is polarizing. Is there someone in your life who ridicules the cross? Pray and ask God for a gospel opportunity and for their salvation.
  4. Reflect on the shame of Jesus on the cross. Because Jesus experienced the shame of the cross, you don’t have to. Why is this important in your life in and walk with him? Do you feel shame because of your sin? Confess your sin and rest in the finished cross-work of Christ.
  5. Pray and thank God for the glorious reality that Jesus was forsaken to death for your sin so that you could live in him.

My wife Kara had just given birth to our oldest daughter Lisa after 16 agonizing, long hours of labor. After they had moved us from the delivery room to our semi-private room just down the street here at Medical City Dallas, we had a chance to hold our new baby girl. What Kara and I had in common, immediately, was this overwhelming love for our new daughter. I couldn't believe how quickly and fully you could love someone so completely.

I also realized in that moment we were coming from very different perspectives. Kara was looking and focusing on the future, looking ahead, and she was speaking exuberantly about this little girl's future. She was 16 years ahead. She even began to talk about having other children, to which I wanted to say, "Too soon." I, on the other hand, wasn't dreaming of the future; I was dwelling in the past, specifically the past 16 hours and all the suffering I saw her endure to get to the point of giving birth.

Kara was focused on the joy of new life. She was reveling in the fact that through the pain and turmoil, God had brought a new life into this world. I, on the other hand, was still wrestling in the sadness of watching her suffer. Kara was, in every way, focused in on the effect of childbirth. Through the process of childbirth, we now had a beautiful little girl. I, on the other hand, was focusing on the affect of childbirth and all the difficulty that went into that for my wife, still trying to make sense of what exactly just happened.

When you and I come to this part of Holy Week, when we come to this story in the Bible, I think we have a propensity to run past the cross to the empty tomb of Jesus. I don't want us to do that today. I want us to take the time, and I want us to feel the affect of the cross. I don't want to deny for a minute the effect of the cross and all the good that comes out of what Jesus did on our behalf, but I want us to stop, I want us to pause today, and I want us to focus in on seven verses from Matthew 27.

I want us to meditate on what exactly happened at the cross in the death of Jesus. I have one simple question, one question alone, that I want to ask and then answer today…What do we do with Good Friday? What do we do with this thing? What should our response look like? Before we do anything else, let's pray.

Father, thank you for this time we have together today. Father, thank you that according to the Lord Jesus himself, we are here today because you seek out those who will worship you in spirit and truth. Father, I pray now as we open up your Word, you would open our eyes to see Jesus and all that he is. I pray that you would open up our hearts to feel the things that are the right things to feel when we come to the foot of the cross.

Father, I pray that you would help us to respond to you in the way we should as a result of watching your bloodied Son die a brutal death on the cross. Father, I pray if there's anyone here with us today, anyone whosoever, who hasn't yet put his or her faith in Jesus, that in the next few minutes we have together you would arrange an introduction. I pray that lives would forever be changed for your glory. In Jesus' good name we pray together, amen.

If you have your Bible, turn with me to Matthew 27. We're going to begin in verse 45. "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"

Before we get into these startling words of Jesus, I want to establish the setting we see here. It's dark. It's supernaturally dark. It's grim. It's bleak. In the ancient way of keeping time, the time frame we're looking at is from noon to 3:00, the time frame we find ourselves in today right now, right here, as we gather together. The land is dark. There's a darkness that has befallen the land, and Jesus is overcome by this darkness.

It's startling to us, because Jesus himself has said, "I am the Light of the World," yet we see the Light of the World covered up in darkness. It raises the question in our minds, "What is going on here? What exactly is happening?" The imagery is of judgment and punishment and wrath, yet we know Jesus to be sinless, without flaw, without blame.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 5:21, which explains exactly what's happening here. This is what theologians call the great exchange. This is the great good news. "For our sake he [the Father] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus on the cross is enduring the punishment you and I deserve.

Jesus, who is eternally the Son of God, became truly human, and he lived the only perfect life that has ever been lived, perfectly keeping all 613 commandments of the Old Testament. Being born without a sin nature because the Holy Spirit conceived him, he lived the perfect life, and there he goes to the cross in your place, in my place, taking upon himself our sin, and there he bears the punishment for our sin.

In this beautiful picture we see later portrayed in the Bible, there's a great exchange that happens at the cross. Jesus goes there in our place, and your sin and my sin gets credited to him, and his righteousness is offered to us as a free gift to be received by faith. If that weren't bleak and dark enough, look at the words of Jesus. Look at the agony of his heart as he cries out in this dark space, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Everyone else has betrayed Jesus. Everyone else has abandoned Jesus. Jesus has said over and over, "I and the Father are one," and now Jesus on the cross feels a sense of abandonment from the Father. Jesus quotes Psalm 22 in this text, and he's showing us once again that he's the fulfillment of all that was prophesied and all that was promised in the Old Testament, but this isn't the way we expected it to play out.

Two things I need you to know that aren't happening here. First of all, Jesus is not being separated from God the Father. The Bible teaches that God is a triune God…one God, three persons…God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal, living in perfect harmony, love, and relationship for all time. So, there's no change in Jesus' identity. He's not being separated from the Father.

There's no break in relationship. There are so many other Scriptures that inform us, even as Jesus goes to the cross and takes upon himself your sin and my sin there on the cross, the Father is pleased with him, but in this moment, Jesus, as a weight of bearing our sin…your sin, my sin, our sin…experiences a very temporal, partial, and spatial separation from God the Father.

I think the best way I can explain this or even illustrate this is to tell you a story of when I was first married. My wife and I went to see one of those movies everybody said, "You've got to see this. It'll change your life." We went to the movie, and in the middle of the movie there was a graphic scene where there was a scene of domestic assault and abuse.

As I'm sitting there next to Kara with my popcorn and she with her Coke, she gets up and leaves. It's too much. It's too dark. Her conscience is violated, and she cannot stay in that space. I'm sitting there watching the screen, waiting for a moment, wondering if she just went to the bathroom. I realize that she's gone, and I go and join her, and we leave the movie. We don't see the end of it.

In that moment, I'm struck by this separation I feel. There's no break in our covenant relationship. We're still one in the eyes of God, man and wife in the covenant of marriage, one flesh. There's no break in our closeness. We're still in good relationship, but she just couldn't stay in that space in the evil that was present. That's the agony of Jesus. That's the weight he's experiencing right here, right now, in this moment.

Of all of the stories we have of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, I don't think there's a greater pain point than what we see right here as he cries out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I want you to understand today…you did this, and I did this. We did this to Jesus. Your sin and my sin is why Jesus is on the cross in agony, suffering, and anguish, feeling a separation from his Father. We did this.

Your sin, both your public sin and your private sin, your spectacular sin and your secret sin, and everything in between… We did this. I want to invite you now to reflect for a minute, and I want you to focus in on the suffering Jesus is experiencing. If it helps you to kneel, feel free to kneel. If you want to close your eyes, close your eyes. Let's just be quiet and focus in on this scene for a minute.

Suffering wasn't the only thing Jesus experienced on our behalf on the cross. Pick up with me back in Matthew 27:47. "And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, 'This man is calling Elijah.' And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, 'Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.'"

As we watch those who are witnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus, we see two things that are very common in the ministry of Jesus in his time on earth: confusion (those who don't understand or get what he's saying), and also a sense of contempt. There are those who misunderstand what Jesus is saying. Because the words in Aramaic, "Eli, Eli (my God, my God)" are so similar to the sound of Elijah, people mistakenly think perhaps he's calling for the prophet Elijah to deliver him in that moment.

But others are holding Jesus in contempt. Others, rather than rushing to offer Jesus some aid, simply are stepping back at a distance, looking at him with contempt and derision, and saying, "Let's see what happens next. Let's see if he really is who he says he is. Let's see if he is the Son of God as he claimed to be. Let's see what happens now."

The cross is polarizing. The death of Jesus on the cross may be precious to some of us, but it's absolutely offensive to others. I remember years ago serving a church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as an associate pastor. Pastor Larry, our lead pastor, and I would oftentimes, between meetings, run to our favorite convenience store, grab some iced tea, and get some fried pies. Not a healthy move.

Larry loved to wear an enormous silver cross around his neck. It wasn't pastor bling. It was more a reminder to him of how precious the cross was. So, he had this large silver cross, and it had embedded in it pieces of turquoise. It was so heavy. I picked it up one day. Later in Larry's life, before he went to be with Jesus, he had neck and back problems, and I think this is why.

Somewhere between the iced tea and the fried pies, we were making our way through the convenience store, and an angry young man gets up in Pastor Larry's face. He looks at his cross, and he says, "Shame on you! How dare you?" He said, "Why don't you just put a [expletive] guillotine around your neck?" I felt for the first time ever the essence of the shame of the emblem of the cross.

Pastor Larry just looked at this man, and he said, "I wear this because my Jesus died for me on the cross. And you're right, shame on me, but Jesus took my shame upon himself there." I want you to feel the shame of Jesus, the very agent of creation, the very one whom Colossians 1 tells us all things exist for, that he's preeminent over all things after the resurrection.

That Jesus, that eternal God, who is truly man, the Redeemer of all, the Creator of all, the Judge of all, is there nailed to a brutal piece of execution, naked and bleeding out in front of everyone. If that's not enough, those who follow him are confused, and those he came to save hold him in contempt. I want to invite you to reflect again. I want to invite you to be quiet. I want you to meditate upon the shame of Jesus on the cross. Let's be quiet and reflect.

Matthew 27:50: "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit." Jesus didn't die the way human beings die. Human beings die in a way that they fight death until the very end, and then ultimately succumb to its power. Not Jesus. Jesus voluntarily dies. Jesus offers up his spirit as a gift to God the Father, and he voluntarily passes away. He does it on his own accord. He does it out of his desire to glorify his Father and be the good of his people.

This is what Jesus says in John, chapter 10. Don't miss this. Jesus says in John 10:17-18, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

Friends, I think you can scan the Bible backward and forward, and I don't think you'll ever find a more beautiful picture of obedience and submission to God the Father than this. Jesus, completely innocent, blameless, never done anything wrong, paying the penalty, and paying the price, suffering the judgment for our sin, ultimately offers up his life on his own accord and gives his spirit up. He dies in a way that no person has ever died before.

Do you see the humility of Jesus here? Do you see the submissiveness of Jesus here? Do you see the servanthood of Jesus? Do you see his love for his Father in yielding to him? Years ago, I was on a mission trip in Central Asia in the country of Kyrgyzstan. There was a custom there that when they had guests coming from other places, they would do a big feast that they called cutting a sheep. It's just as violent as it sounds.

They invite their guests in, and if you're the guest of honor (and I just so happened to be at that meal), there's a large feast that happens. Everybody brings their best food, but the pinnacle of the feast is they'll take one of the best sheep out of their flock, stretch its neck out over a basin, slit the sheep's throat with a knife, and let the sheep bleed out. It's the beginning of the festival.

As the guest of honor, I was invited to partake. They asked me if I wanted to do the honors, and I declined. I'd been hunting before, but I'd never done anything like that. I'll never forget. As a matter of fact, I can't get it out of my mind's eye. I can't forget what it was like when they slit that sheep's throat, because it wasn't gentle, and it wasn't peaceful. With every ounce of energy that sheep had, he fought back. He gasped for air, he trembled, and he fought death until there was no blood left to keep him alive, and then he perished.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, didn't die that way. Jesus died voluntarily. Jesus yielded up his own spirit in obedience to God the Father. Would you take a minute now, and however you want to…if you want to kneel, if you want to close your eyes…would you reflect on the submissiveness and the humility of Jesus on the cross?

Verse 51 (it's the last verse we'll cover today): "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split." We immediately begin to see the enormous impact of the death of Jesus on the cross in two ways. First, creation is impacted. There's an earthquake. The earth shakes, rocks are split, and we get a sense that this is going to usher in the new creation God has promised.

Perhaps even more poignantly and more significantly, we see the curtain in the temple being torn directionally from top to bottom, and we get a sense that this new covenant God has promised is going to be enacted through the death of Jesus. I don't want you to race past that. I don't want you to miss the significance there, because it's astounding.

The temple was the apex of religious life in the day of Jesus. The presence of God was manifested there in the temple in Jerusalem in the Holy Place. And not just the Holy Place, but behind the Holy Place, in the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was, the presence of God was manifested.

There was a curtain up. Some people believe the curtain was one foot thick, if you could imagine a curtain that thick. The imagery was sinful people cannot access the presence of God, and God can't be with his people fully. There has to be a barrier between them. Yet we see at the death of Jesus that curtain is torn in two, but it's torn from top to bottom.

In other words, God is doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. You and I could never take care of the sin issue that separates us from enjoying the presence of God, and God in his mercy, God in his grace, God in his love, God in his kindness, sends his Son to pay the penalty for our sin, to break the power of sin, so that we might experience his presence once and for all.

God is offering us through the death of Jesus the greatest gift he could ever give us. He's giving us himself. You and I enter into the presence through the person and work of Jesus. I want you to understand something powerfully today. It's so important. If you take anything away with you today, I want you to know this: being in the presence of God isn't a goal to be achieved; it's a gift to be received. Jesus made that all possible.

Church family and friends, what do we do with Good Friday? What does this day mean? What now? From Hebrews, chapter 10, we get further revelation that tells us exactly what transpired in this moment. Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19-22 says this:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

What do we do with Good Friday? Here's what we do. We draw near to God with empty hands and expectant hearts. We draw near to God with empty hands. We have nothing to offer him. The only thing we contribute to this relationship is our sin and our brokenness, but we come with expectant hearts because of who Jesus is and what he did for us on the cross. Will you draw near today?

This is so different than the Old Testament, because in the Old Testament the high priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year, and he went in with full hands. He had to go in with a sacrifice on behalf of the people, and he went in with a fearful heart. Who knew what the outcome was going to be? Yet because of Jesus, we can come, and should come, and draw near to God today with empty hands and expectant hearts.

We no longer bring sacrifices for sin. We come to him empty-handed. Jesus is the dual fulfillment of all the law of the Old Testament. He fulfills it in two ways. First, he keeps all of the commandments perfectly. Then he, once and for all, is the final, perfect sacrifice for all time. The work is finished, as Jesus said on the cross. "It is finished." Will you draw near today?

My youngest daughter Jillian was just married a few weeks ago. Up until the time she was married, she lived with Kara and me. We were all roommates together. She brought with her her 2-year-old Golden Retriever, Teddy. Teddy is a puppy in every sense of the word even though he's 2 years old. He's a delightful dog.

Every night I'd come home and walk through the front door, Teddy would run to the front door, and when he would see me he would stop in his tracks and very nervously and anxiously begin to search the house for his favorite dog toy. He would eventually find it, and then he would come back to me. He would sit in front of me and, with trembling, wait for me to pet him.

I have to be honest with you. I didn't really appreciate that. I was ready to give my love to Teddy right then and there when I met him at the door. The reason I love Teddy is one simple reason. It's because he belongs to Jillian, and I love Jillian; therefore, I'm going to accept the dog, however he comes to me.

He would bring this dog toy, and it was always covered in dog saliva, which meant it smelled like dog spit. It was not pleasant, and it was dirty. It actually interfered with our connection and our communion that I wanted to have in that moment. Oh, friend, the reason Teddy does that is that's ingrained, and he has been bred to do things that way.

Our natural tendency is to come before God, thinking that if we can bring this gift, if we can do this thing, if we can say these words, if we have all of these good works before us, we can come to God and offer something up to him that will be acceptable so that he will love us and he will meet us in that space.

That's not how we approach God. We come to him with empty hands, but because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did on the cross, we come to him with expectant hearts. He will meet us here today because he approves of his Son and loves his Son, and if you belong to his Son, then you are righteous before him.

Here's what we're going to do. We're going to do the thing the Bible says and instructs us to do to proclaim the death of Jesus. We're going to take Communion in just a minute, but before we do that, I want to give you one last opportunity to reflect. I want you to prepare yourself, as we take Communion, to come into the presence of God today with empty hands and expectant hearts. Let's be silent before the Lord.

Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your perfect life. Thank you for your substitutionary death. Thank you that you did for us what we could never do for ourselves. Thank you for your suffering on the cross. Thank you for the shame you endured. Thank you for your submissiveness to the Father. Help us draw close to him now. In your good name we pray, amen.