Why You Should Be Afraid Of Good Friday

Text: John 19:1-42

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

How should you and I respond to Good Friday? How should we feel when looking at the cross of Christ?

In a word: terrified.

But you may say, “I’m not afraid!” 

Dear friend, oh, you will be… you will be. Dear friends, be afraid, be very afraid of the cross of Christ, for when you correctly view the cross of Christ, terror should pierce your heart.  When you look long enough into the cross, the events of the cross will gaze back into you, creating a terror-stricken feeling.

You see, there is a reason why our Good Friday Service here at St. Paul’s is not decorated with confetti and glitter and wrapped in happy-clappy songs. There is a reason why everything is stripped away except for the darkness of Golgotha.  The reason being, the cross of Christ reveals the severe wrath of God concerning sin and sinners. 

Sin is no joking matter. According to God, sin is not a small mistake, a Norwegian ‘uff duh,’ or a little oops. 

Furthermore, to remedy and pay for sin is not cheap.  Saying, “Oh well,” or “Whatever,” or, “I’m sorry, I guess,” are not adequate payments for sin. Sin before God has serious consequences and demands a serious payment – the kind of payment that requires suffering and death.

And so, when you consider the Christ on the cross and see a thorn piercing His flesh, you know that a thousand thorns should be piercing you. When you hear the hammer driving the nails through His hands and feet, you know that those nails are meant for you.  When you hear how God the Father rejected and forsook Christ on the cross resulting in Jesus experiencing the essence of hell, you know that this rejection and hell are yours.

Dear friends, Christ’s suffering on the cross is your suffering.  But instead of you being judged, smitten, and condemned for your sin, Jesus stepped forward and offered Himself on your behalf. 

So pause this evening. Stop what you are doing and look to the slaughtered Son of God on the cross.  Don’t look away. Don’t flinch. But consider the horrible slaughtered body and soul of Jesus.  Christ was strangled and crucified not because God the Father is some cosmic abuser, but because that is what your sins deserve.  Your sin is the reason for Christ being slaughtered, crucified, and damned. 

But perhaps you might not want to experience this terror on this Good Friday evening. Maybe it would be easier to avoid Good Friday altogether, or turn the pages of the Scriptures, or turn your computer off from listening to this message. If so, mark this, dear friends: if you try to avoid the sufferings of Christ and run to a flowery and superficial religious message, you are not only missing the essence of Christianity but trying to avoid the seriousness of your sin.  Good Friday cannot be printed on fancy-glittery-cards.  Good Friday cannot be sung with effeminate-gushy-punch-drunk-wobbly praise songs.  Good Friday reveals to humanity the seriousness of sin against a righteous God and the need of an atoning bloody sacrifice for sin. 

You are doubly damned when you ignore the seriousness of your sin and then make light of that very same sin.  To deny your sin is to deny the need for the cross of Christ.  And to deny the need of the cross of Christ is to deny your sin. 

So tonight, know this, Christ suffering on that cross is serious business. The cross should strike terror into your soul because that is just how serious your sin is before God the Father Almighty.  Sin demands death, and death is precisely what happened. Christ – the innocent one – bore your griefs, carried your sorrows, was wounded for your transgressions, was crushed for your iniquities, suffered for your chastisement, and died.

Now, when you consider your sins in the light of the cross and feel terror, this is most certainly good. But it must be made clear that you and I must not remain in terror this evening. The night of sin is indeed dark, but keep in mind it is darkest just before the dawn of God’s grace.  That is to say; we must take a second look at the cross.  Yes, tonight, we must have the courage to consider the cross of Christ a second time. But this time, let us not consider our sin on the cross but the Christ who is in our place.

As already stated, Christ was made to be sin on that cross.  However, as the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus becomes so closely associated with the sin of the world that sin loses its sense for anyone else.  Sin was laid on Christ. Jesus bore our sins in His body on a tree. Christ has taken upon Himself what was once rightly yours and made it His own.

And so, you must pause this evening. Stop what you are doing and look to the slaughtered Son of God on the cross. Don’t look away. Don’t flinch. But consider the reality that Christ fearlessly chose your cross for you. And upon that cross, Christ seized your sin as his own and made full satisfaction for every sin you have ever committed, will commit, or could commit. Your sin finds its end in Christ, which means that your sin does not find its end on you. The condemnation of your sin is judged upon Jesus – not you.

But perhaps you might think that this news is too good to be true. Maybe it would be easier to disregard the goodness of Good Friday and believe that the work of Christ is not entirely satisfactory.  If so, mark this, dear friends: there is no sin in this entire world that has escaped the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary.  If you are still huffing and puffing in your religious works (to somehow earn brownie points with God), you are not only missing the essence of Christianity but are deaf to the good news of Good Friday. When Christ said the words, “It is finished,” everything with respect to your sins was finished. No more wrath for your sins in Christ. No more condemnation for your sins in Christ. No more guilt for your sins in Christ. Even the sins buried deeply with those skeletons in the closet have been swallowed up and destroyed by Christ.

So, what this means is that Good Friday is not a day opportunity for you, but a day of certainty.  The message of Good Friday is not a hopeful motivational speech that speaks of the possibility of you overcoming the obstacles of sin, but instead, it is a bold-staggering-declaration of certainty that Christ finished all things for you. In Christ, you can't be condemned by your sins.

This evening, Baptized Saints, behold the terror of your sins and especially behold the friendly heart of God.  Pause and look at the cross of Christ without flinching. See everything that ways you down; every sin that burdens your conscience, every doubt, fear, worry, and guilt that keeps you up at night, is placed upon Christ. It is on Jesus because He chose to take all of this from you, so that He can bear it, and bury it in His wounds.

This evening as you are tucked into your beds, know that we have considered the seriousness of our sin and the seriousness of Christ’s love and sacrifice at the cross.  Sleep this Good Friday evening knowing that the terrors of a guilty conscience have been washed away in Christ, leaving you with peace before God.  And as you sleep, rest that just as Christ has made your sins His own, He has made His righteousness and goodness yours.  Christ has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe you in His righteousness so that you will stand blameless before the Father in glory forever.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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