On this Good Friday, we have great hope. We have this hope because other kings who have died this day would be remembered for their past reign and someone else would take over the kingdom. Jesus is the only king of which this is not true because although he died, he lives. When we have communion we hear these words just as Jesus spoke them to his disciples as passed on by the Apostle Paul. “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood (which is poured out for you); do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” So obviously he is not dead, he has risen. This is just the beginning not the end. On this Good Friday, if you did not know the scriptures, you would tend to think that this man who promised great things was a failure and not just a failure but also someone God gave up on. What you would have seen with your eyes and even heard with your ears on this gruesome day could make one think this man was wrong and not the Messiah. He even said himself in Matthew 27:46 “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). But like others you may have said, I have heard that somewhere before and then looked it up. We should do the same to see what Jesus meant by this. We find the answer in the psalm of David who was also crying out to the lord. Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” Job 23 said, “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! 8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.” Now we know that Jesus was always teaching. Understanding what Jesus was saying here is vital in our understanding the journey of our own lives. Now obviously you may not be hanging from a cross but your pain and suffering from carrying your cross or whatever is happening in your life at this point, is causing you to cry out but only have silence, you wonder where is God?
If we closed the bible at this verse we would be hopeless but this verse is just the beginning as was David’s journey, Job’s journey and Jesus. The good news is if you are in this situation and you are faithfully seeking the narrow way, this is just the beginning for you. To warn you, satan will be present. Psalm 22:6 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Matthew 24:39 “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Job was mocked, David was mocked and there is a strong possibility you will be mocked. They will say, where is your God you so affectionately proclaim? I find it interesting that later when Peter was preaching after Pentecost, after the lame beggar was healed Peter said this to the crowds, Acts 3:11 “While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. 17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Psalm 22 goes on to describe the suffering. “12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. 19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.” But again the passage does not stop there.
Even though Psalm 22 says, “I am poured out like water” there is great hope for us because what seems like the end is just the beginning. John 7:37 said, “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Isaiah 35:4 “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:1 “[Joy of the Redeemed] The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”
Before I finish with Psalm 22, I wanted to remind us Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Christianity is a kingdom of righteousness. That is how it is supposed to be. Isaiah 32:32 “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” But we are acting like the days of the judges when “Israel had no king and everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25). The church has become so dependant on its many denominational doctrines they have forgotten to delight and live the word of God even though they think they do. Because they have not mediated on the word but on books of dreams, visions and plans of man, they forgot about little words like “if” and “remain” and obey or “on” this rock. They have disobeyed the word of God. These deceptions teach Christians it is okay not to wholeheartedly follow, as God would not withdraw his spirit. What kind of God would do that? They refuse to ask what if we don’t obey, or remain? They mistakenly assume that they are covered by the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost even if they are not walking in the way. They assume they will have the same power but they do not. Instead of repenting they make up more doctrines to cover their own sins. Scripture clearly gives us the answer as to what will happen if we don’t. The answer is no power and the enemy will prevail against us as we are seeing in the church today. Like when Peter preached many are acting in complete ignorance, as were their leaders. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Along with the power of Pentecost we need the true conviction of the Holy Spirit. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” We must turn and repent and ask God to revive us again.
If we stopped with a forsaking God there would be no reason to carry on but the cross is just the beginning. Psalm 22:9 “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. 22 I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. 26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him— may your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. 29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Not only did Jesus die, He rose from the dead. We need to grasp what that meant for us as the church. We are not meant to be powerless. We are only powerless because we have forgotten the power that Easter represents and we have disobeyed His word. Once again we need to understand this prayer from Paul. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The gospel is a message of hope and victory over the enemy. When we stand on the rock, admitting not just with our mouths but also with our hearts that Jesus is the Messiah, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Son of the living God, we have this promise from Jesus; “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)
God will not reject those who search for Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus did not give his life as the end of the story but to give us abundant life. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” So far the thief has destroyed much. But because of this day in history we have great hope. Deuteronomy 30:1 “When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. 6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. 8 You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. 9 Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 8:6 “Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.”
Deuteronomy 7:12 “If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. 16 You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.”
As you ponder the cross today know that the cross is just the beginning. Psalm 126:1 “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
Psalm 118:19 “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”