A Good Friday Meditation for Silent Saturday

My pastor asked me to be a part of our Good Friday service. I said yes. Approximately 15 minutes before the service was to begin, my phone rang. It was my friend Ben’s number. We were in prayer with all the other participants in the evening’s service so I didn’t pick up. But when prayer ended I went outside and called Ben’s number only to hear his wife’s voice. “Ben called me, so I’m calling back,” I said. “Marty, Ben died.” 

Shock. Grief. Tears. Confusion. “Oh, Robin, I’m so sorry.” My friend. Gone. “Why Lord?” 

I miss him already.

Both Trell, our pastor and Brogan our worship leader prayed with me, Michele another friend, prayed with Stephnie and I both. But the service was about to start and the people of God needed to be served. I’m not sure how much sense I made but below is what I wanted to say. 

On this Silent Saturday between the horrors and sorrows of Good Friday and the glories and joys of Easter Sunday, may your heart wonder again at the greatness of God’s mercy and love. Oh how great a hope is the resurrection! I will see Ben again, feel his embrace, know his laugh and we will celebrate the glory of God together.

Mark 15:21-32  (NASB95)    —  (Annabeth reads)

21 They *pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.

The Crucifixion

22 Then they *brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. 25 It was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

27 They *crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”] 29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

Homily  —  (marty)

The Crucified King of Suffering

The movie The Passion of the Christ is a visually and emotionally assaulting film. It throws reality at us in a sensory barrage of images that lingers in the soul long after the movie ends. It is powerful. It is filled with devotion and it made box office history.

But it is not completely accurate or true to the biblical and historical record at all points. Jesus did not carry His cross.

He started to carry the cross but was too weak from the beatings He had received. Pushed, prodded, crowned with thorns, scourged, punched. His human shoulders weren’t strong enough. So the cross beam upon which His sinless hands were nailed was laid upon the shoulders of Simon of Cyrene who walked behind Jesus.

Some might use this minor historical inaccuracy in the film to downplay the agony of Christ. “See,” they might say, “It wasn’t as bad as Mel Gibson made it look.”

They would be wrong.

It was worse—far worse.

The torture of the cross He bore was not merely physical but spiritual and emotional. He was bearing the weight of the sins of all those who would believe in Him. No human being could help the Savior with that weight, but every human being who ever lived is in debt to the weight He bore that day.

A rocky place resembling a skull—that was where they took Him—to murder Him. (I’ve been there and have seen it.) There they continued their mockery and torture. There they nailed Him to the cross.

On either side of Him hang two known and deserving criminals. Above Him hangs a sign written in three languages,

“Jesus, King of the Jews.”

Exactly who He was.
Exactly who He claimed to be.
Exactly why He was crucified.

Even a place known for its resemblance to a skull and its associations with the Roman death machinery of the time couldn’t change the fact that He was and is the sovereign Lord of Life, the long-expected Son, the one destined to sit on King David’s throne.

The Apostle Paul was mesmerized by the image of our sins being nailed to the cross, canceling out the debt we owed by the atoning sacrifice of the Savior in our place. He wrote to the Colossians about it to drive the significance of Christ’s sacrifice into the memory of those who believe in Him.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses . . . God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

Paul’s words in Colossians echo the prophet Isaiah’s words written eight hundred years before Christ: (Isaiah 53:6)

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.”

Why? Why did He do it? Why endure such suffering when He could have stopped it with a word like He stopped the storm on the sea?

He would glorify the Father by laying His life down for the sheep—sheep that were wicked, sheep that were corrupt—sheep like us.

 He would paint a picture of the tenderness of God toward sinners . . .

 … with His body as the canvas

   … and His blood as the paint.

And that’s why we love Him,

He demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Remember Him this very Good Friday.

Ben with his daughter in 2017 on a visit to California. Oh how he glowed around his daughters! (Ben lost 140 lbs after this picture was taken.) See you soon my brother. We will take care of Robin for you.

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