Why Good Friday Makes Us Feel Uncomfortable

Text: John 19:1-42

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Good Friday has a way of making us uncomfortable.  The darkness of Good Friday, along with the bloody cross makes us squirm. 

If we were, to be honest, the cross of Jesus is painful to contemplate.  Even individuals who have been desensitized to violence through violent movies and video games, struggle with looking at the cross of Jesus.  And there are whole church denominations that are very adamant that crosses in churches should not have the figure of Jesus on them.  These churches are opposed to crucifixes.  In technical terms they say that crosses should be bare and not have a corpus – that is a body.  They argue, “Jesus is off the cross and risen from the dead; we should not use crucifixes.”  While this rationale makes sense to a point, I am still convinced that a huge reason for wanting an empty cross versus a crucifix is that empty crosses are tamer.  Empty crosses are a little more sanitized.  Empty crosses are a little easier to look at, whereas a cross with a bloody Messiah makes our heads turn to the side and our faces cringe. 

But why is there such difficulty with a dark Good Friday and the bleeding Savior upon the cross?  Why does this Good Friday service grab our hearts in such a profound way?  Dear friends, the answer is that the death of Jesus is no ordinary death.  The darkness of Good Friday is no ordinary darkness.  It would be ordinary if Jesus were dying on the cross for a wrong that He had committed.  That is to say; if Jesus was on the cross for something that He had done wrong, we could shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, that is too bad, but I guess he got what was coming,” and then we could go on our way.  But this is not the case. 

Dear friends, the death of Christ is no ordinary death, and it is no ordinary darkness and here is why.  Look and realize that the wounded, bloodied, and crucified Christ did not suffer on the cross for a single wrong that He had done. But rather, that bloody cross and that darkness were because of you and me.  Yes, He was on the cross because of us.  That is why it is no ordinary death and no ordinary darkness. 

You see, on that cross, the totality of human sin – from the first sin of Adam and Eve to the last sin of the last human being alive – all of it was gathered up, pressed together, and then loaded on Jesus while He hung on the cross in darkness.  Jesus bore the whole weight of it and owned it as His own.  And so, Jesus experienced both temporal and eternal death because of you and because of me.

This is why it is tough to look at a crucifix because it is hard to accept the truth of our sins.  The wounds, the nails affixed to His hands and feet, the blood running down His face from the thorns, are because of us – our sin.  His mutilated back rubbing against the tree as He is forced to push upward to breathe is because of us – our sin. 

Jesus’ whole life was only love. He was the only human being who completely loved the Father with His all and His neighbor as Himself; however, this perfect life ended at a cross because of us. 

And so, tonight we find ourselves lowering our heads.  Our eyes drop to the side.  Shame sets in, and we shake our heads because we know that Jesus suffered and died on that cross because of us. 

Dear Baptized Saints, while it is hard to look through the darkness to the bleeding Savior on the cross, tonight I must tell you that it is good and right to do so.  Hard to look at the cross, yes.  Good to look at the cross, yes, as well.  In fact, this night we must lift our heads, open our eyes, and gaze through the darkness upon the suffering servant on the cross.  We must fall on our knees before this image of Jesus bleeding.  We must ponder this picture of the suffering and crucified Savior. 

But why should we look at something that is hard to look at, such as Christ-crucified?

Baptized Saints, we must gaze upon the crucified Christ because it is a picture of the Lord’s love for you!  Because Jesus is love, this loving Savior will not leave sinners in sin.  And so, the bloody cross with a bloody Savior is the most dramatic display God’s love for you.  Yes, Jesus – who is perfect love – takes sin upon Himself.  Jesus – who is perfect love – is wounded to grant us healing.  The dark and bloody cross is love towards you.

And so, tonight we beg the Lord to imprint this image of Christ-crucified on our hearts and minds so that we might carry this image with us wherever we go.  We pray that the Lord would engrave this picture of Christ-crucified upon us so that it can be before our eyes at the moment of our death.

You see, when the moment of your death comes to you, the devil will press you.  At that moment of death, the devil will seek his last chance to snatch you away from God forever, and he has a powerful weapon to use.

During your everyday lives, the cunning serpent minimizes sin and tries to lure you into sin with temptations.  However, at death, the opposite happens.  At the end of your life, the devil then maximizes your sins in your memory to bring you to despair.  Yes, when death is coming for you, the devil will happily set up the projector in your mind and replay for you the many sins you have forgotten.

The devil will taunt you, that you are not a Christian.  He will declare you unfit for the kingdom of God.  He will tell you that you are his and that by your sin that you have committed yourself to the kingdom of darkness.

All those sins will be playing over and over and over in your mind as you are struggling in death.  And that is why it is vital that we gaze upon Christ-crucified.  This is why it is so important that we lift up our chins and look through the darkness to Jesus hanging on the cross.  This is why it is so essential in life to look upon Christ-crucified.  This is why it is so important to behold our Savior’s wounds and to hold them close to our hearts, counting them as our most precious treasure.  This is why the image of Christ-crucified needs to be imprinted on our minds and hearts. 

So, in the hour of your death, Christ-crucified will be your only weapon against the despair of the enemy.  You will be able to look at all of your sins as the accuser brings them before your eyes, and you will be able to acknowledge that they are indeed awful and wrong.  However, against the devil’s accusations, you have something far greater – you have Christ-crucified. Yes, we can admit before the devil that Jesus is on the cross because of us; however, we can also confess boldly that Jesus is on the cross because of us.  He is there because He loves you and me.  He is there because there must be an end to sin, death, and the devil.  He is there because He cannot tolerate sin and chose to do something about it for you and me.

Baptized Saints, the dying Savior shatters the devil’s accusations for all the accusations, and all of your sins were atoned for at the cross.  The blood of Jesus blotted out every single sin that you have ever committed or ever well.  And so, the devil cannot contend with Christ’s blood. 

Awful as your sins are, each one has been paid for, covered by innocent blood, the blood of your Savior, Jesus.

So, tonight we lift up our heads.  We look into the darkness without fear.  We look upon the crucified one with confidence.  And as we consider our Crucified Savior, we ask the Lord to imprint this image on our minds and hearts, so that we might have the sure confidence that Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – has proved Himself as our dearest friend by dying for all of our sins, making you and me, His forever.   

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Note: this sermon is borrowed in parts from William Weedon’s Good Friday Sermon on Isaiah 53.

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