Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Meditations

I just wanted to share some thoughts on Good Friday that I shared a few years during a Good Friday service.

Who Killed Jesus?

  1. The Jewish Leaders
    • There were the chief priests, called Annas and Caiaphas, who thoroughly disliked what Jesus was doing and who were delighted to get their hands on him and make up some accusations against him.
    • When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, He angered the Pharisees and they sought to kill Him. John chapter 7 is riddled with talk of the Jews intentions to seize and kill Jesus (Jn. 7:1,19, 30, 32, 44).
    • Over and over in the story of Jesus, the Jews make known their desire to put Him to death, culminating in their stirring up the crowd at His trial, and declaring, “His blood shall be on us and on our children.” Peter also places blame on the Jews in the first sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2:36).
    • Clearly, the Jewish leaders are responsible for the death of Jesus, but it does not end there.
  2. Judas
    • Judas betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. He gave Jesus away to the temple guards so they could arrest him. He made plans, “the one I kiss” he said, “is Jesus”.
    • Surely, Judas was responsible for Jesus being killed.
  3. Pilate
    • He saw no good reason to put Jesus to death but still gave in to the shouts of the crowd.
    • Pilate would argue his innocence, for he washed his hands and declared, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”
    • But Pilate was one person with the power to release Jesus or to crucify Him. That Pilate was so spineless as to let the crowd sway his decision does not excuse him for his part in the death of Jesus.
  4. The Roman Soldiers
    • They were the ones who mocked Jesus and beat Him and finally nailed him to the cross.
    • The Roman executioners have never denied blame in the death of Jesus. That was their job. They killed people, and the gospels detail the physical pain and indignities suffered by Jesus at the hands of Roman soldiers.
    • Pilate and the Romans were the governing authorities of the day, and as such were the only ones with the right to execute, so their guilt in crucifying Jesus is obvious.
  5. The Crowd
    • They shouted that they wanted a known criminal called Barabbas set free, not Jesus; and they shouted for Jesus to be crucified.
    • They convinced Pilate to turn him over. They shouted time and time again, “Crucify Him.” They even accepted the guilt by saying, “let His blood be on us and on our children.”
    • But it’s not good enough for us to blame these people who lived over 2,000 years ago. The Jews, Pilate and the Romans are merely instruments in the death of Jesus. The people who really killed Jesus include us. It was because of sin that Jesus had to die, and that means that, ultimately it is sinners who are responsible for the death of Jesus.
    • However, it is easy to state that sinners are the ones who killed Jesus, while thinking of “really bad sinners,” like murderers, rapists and child molesters. In other words, it is easy to blame particularly heinous criminals and deny our own guilt in the death of Jesus.
    • The fact is that if the death of Jesus is going to mean anything in my life, then a search for His killers must culminate in a good, hard look in the mirror.
    • Listen to Isaiah 53:4-6 -- I will be subsitituting personal pronouns for the collective ones to make it more personal. Listen to as if you were reading it as well … Surely he took up MY infirmities and carried MY sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for MY transgressions, he was crushed for MY iniquities; the punishment that brought ME peace was upon him, and by his wounds I AM healed. I, like sheep, have gone astray, I have turned to MY own way; and the Lord has laid on him MY iniquity.
    • These verses make it pretty clear that Jesus would have had to die for me, no matter what the rest of the world was like.
Who killed Jesus? I did. You did. We all had a part in it. And so we want to tell Jesus three things:

  1. we want to tell him how sorry we are for our sins;
  2. we want to tell him how much we love him and are thankful for his death on the cross;
  3. and we want to tell him that we want to follow him from now on.

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