A lot of bad things happened on Good Friday. But we don’t call it "Bad Friday" - we call it "Good Friday". In this message, we'll examine both the bad and the good that took place on the very first Good Friday and we will see why we ended up calling this Friday “good” instead of “bad.”
Today is the day that Christians all over the world celebrate the anniversary of one very particular Friday that took place a little over two thousand years ago, today is the day we remember and reflect on one of the best days in the history of the entire world.
Today is the day that we celebrate Good Friday. But I have a question for you. Have you ever really considered why we call this Friday good, or do you just assume it's good?
Because everybody has been calling it good for the past 20 years?
The reason I'm asking this question is because I don't think it's as obvious as you might expect if you were to simply take a look at what happened on Good Friday.
I don't think good would be the automatic conclusion that we would come to in the gospel of Matthew in Matthew Chapter twenty seven Verse is one to sixty one. We have a detailed description of some of the events that took place on the original Good Friday. And a lot of what we see there doesn't appear to be all that good. Let me try to show you what I mean by simply reading for you the account of Good Friday that we have in Matthew's Gospel because it's such a long passage.
I'm also going to show the words on the screen as I read to help you keep your attention all the way through. And when I'm done reading, we're going to take a look together at what makes Good Friday so good, even though so much bad stuff happened on that day, too. So let me read our text. Here's what took place on Good Friday. When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death, and they bound him and let him away and delivered him over to the governor.
Then when Judas, his betrayal, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, I've sinned by betraying innocent blood, they said, what does that to us see to it yourself and throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple. He departed and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests taking the pieces of silver said it is not lawful to put them into the Treasury since it is blood money.
So they took counsel and brought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers.
Therefore, that field has been called the field of blood to this day then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah sane. And they took the 30 pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field as the Lord directed me. Now, Jesus stood before the governor and the governor asked them, are you the king of the Jews? Jesus said, you've said so.
But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then pilot said to him, Do you not hear how many things they testify against you? But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now, at the feast, the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted, and they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabas.
So when they had gathered, pilot said to them, Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabas or Jesus, who is called Christ for? He knew that it was out of envy, that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.
Now the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release for you? And they said, Barabas pilot said to them, Then what shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?
They all said, Let him be crucified. And he said, Why? What evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, let him be crucified.
So when pilots saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, I am innocent of this man's blood. See to it yourselves. And all the people answered his blood. Be on us and on and on our children. Then he released for them Barabas and having scourged, scourged, Jesus delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters and they gathered the whole battalion before him and they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him and twisted together a crown of thorns.
They put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, Hail king of the Jews.
And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
As they went out, they found a man of Cairene, Simon, by name, they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means place of a skull, they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall. But when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there and over his head.
They put the charge against him, which read, This is Jesus, the king of the Jews. Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him wagging their heads and saying you who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself if you are the son of God, come down from the cross. So also, the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying he saved others, you cannot save himself.
He's the king of Israel. Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now if he desires him for he said, I am the son of God. And the robbers who were crucified with them also reviled him in the same way. Now, from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour and about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, Eli, Eli, Lema, Sabattini, that is my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And some of the bystanders hearing it said, this man is calling Elijah and one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him. And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the rocks were split.
The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs.
After his resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many when the Sun Cherian and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place. They were filled with awe and said, truly, this was the son of God.
There were also many women there looking on from a distance would follow Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to pilot and asked for the body of Jesus. Then pilot ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock and roll the great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
All of that happened on Good Friday. Now, do you see what I mean when I say that this this day doesn't seem all that good? At first glance, it's not super obvious why we call this particular Friday good.
On Good Friday, we see that the day got started with an innocent man who was pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by the religious leaders. That innocent man was Jesus. And that doesn't seem good. Isn't it bad when innocent people are sentenced to die? On Good Friday, we see a man who was so overwhelmed with guilt that he committed suicide. That's what happened to Judas Iscariot on Good Friday. Suicide is devastating whenever it happens, whoever it happens to.
It's not good. It's bad. Most of us know a little bit about Judas, a story. He wasn't a very good guy. He betrayed Jesus and delivered Jesus over to die. And he did it for 30 pieces of silver. But Jesus tells us to love everyone, even our enemies. That means we shouldn't wish harm on anyone or rejoiced when bad things happen to them. We should even sympathize with their struggles. Can you imagine for a second, though, the weight of the guilt and the shame that gnawed away at Judas to the point that he couldn't take it anymore?
It was so bad that it drove him to take his own life. And have you ever thought about Judith's family, his mom, dad, any brothers or sisters he may have had? Have you ever thought about how Judases suicide would have affected them? However, which way you slice it, Good Friday wasn't a good day for Judith or for the people that he left behind. On Good Friday, we see that a woman suffered terribly because of a dream in Verse 8 19, pilot's wife said this to him, have nothing to do with that righteous man.
Speaking of Jesus, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream, suffering much because of a dream. That doesn't sound pleasant, but that suffering happened on Good Friday. On Good Friday, we see a wicked and guilty man released to the crowds instead of Jesus, and I'm referring to Barabas. Do you want and what do you want to know why Barabas was in prison in the first place?
Luke tells us in his gospel in Luke, chapter 23, verse 19, we are told that Barabas was a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Barabas was a convicted murderer, and if we have any sense of justice inside of us, we cry out against the idea we're guilty, murderers are released and innocent people suffer instead. But that's exactly what we see happen on Good Friday when we see Barabas being released to the crowd instead of Jesus.
It should have been Jesus who has released Jesus should have been free to go, Barabas was the guilty one, but Barabas was spared and Jesus was killed. That doesn't seem good. That seems bad. On Good Friday, we see the people who Jesus came to save cry out for him to be crucified. Jesus spent three years going all over Israel, teaching from town to town, village to village, healing thousands of people and telling them the good news about the kingdom of heaven.
Some of the crowd who was there that day on Good Friday probably had a story of their own where Jesus either healed them or someone they knew.
Jesus had healed that many people. He spent his life ministering to his people.
And at the end of it all, they returned the favor by crying out with one voice. Crucify him. Crucify him. Not a good way to respond to the messiah who has come to save you. That doesn't seem good. That seems bad. On Good Friday, we see pilots hand Jesus over to die so that pilot could save his own life. I hope you know, that's why pilot did what he did. He wasn't being noble with the whole washing of the hands thing.
He was saving his own skin. At this point, there was a riot brewing, and if pilot couldn't keep the peace in this part of the Roman Empire that was under his jurisdiction, then he'd have to answer to Caesar. And that would not have turned out well for pilot if there was a riot under his watch. If pilot released Jesus, there would have almost been a riot for sure, but if pilot handed Jesus over to be killed, he would prevent that riot from starting and thus save himself from having to answer to Caesar so to preserve his own well-being.
Pilot handed an innocent man over to death to keep a potential riot at bay. Pilot reason to himself that there was no other way around it. There's nothing good about that. It's not good to choose to do the wrong thing, to benefit yourself is good to do the right thing, regardless of what it might cost you personally.
But pilot thought he could simply wash his hands of Jesus. It wasn't good what pilot did that day, but we still call that the good. On Good Friday, we see Jesus mocked and tortured at the hands of a Roman battalion, and then they crucified him. And on Good Friday we are told that while he hung on the cross, the son of God was forsaken by the father. All of these things happened on one day and after we finish reading what happened on that day, we decided to call this day good.
It doesn't seem all that good when I put it that way, does it? And herein lies the rub. That Friday was good. It was so, so good. It's probably the single best Friday that has ever happened. And so how do we look at these events that happens and reconcile them with the idea to call this Friday, Good Friday, what is good about Good Friday? That's the question I want to answer for you.
Now, I'm going to draw your attention to three different scenes that took place on Good Friday. And when we see these three scenes, the way that God would have us see them, I think then we will be able to understand how good Good Friday it really is.
I see no one. I want you to imagine in your mind, if you will, the scene where a pilot presents Jesus before the crowds and gives them an opportunity to have Jesus released. Picture that scene in your mind. And what happened? Did the crowd choose to have Jesus released to them? No. They chose to have a notorious prisoner named Barabas released to them instead.
It was Barabas who walked away that day, a free man, and it was Jesus who walked up the hill to Golgotha where he was crucified on that day, a man who deserved to die was set free and a man who didn't deserve to die was killed. And we look at the scene where Bravas was set free instead of Jesus. We realized that a gross injustice was done that day.
What happened that day was wrong. It wasn't right. It was bad. It wasn't good at all. Or was it? I think that the goodness that we can see in this scene depends on what perspective you or I use when we look back on it. There was one person who would have looked back on that scene that day and said, you know what? Yeah, that was a really good day, a really good day for me anyway. Who would have said something like that about this day?
Barabas, Barabas, Good Friday was a really, really good day, if you were Barabas, can you imagine the response Barabas got when he showed up at home that day?
To everyone's surprise.
Perhaps is that you shouldn't you be in prison or dead by now, Barabas would be like, yeah, that's the way it was shaping up and it wasn't looking too good for me. But then get this pilot gave the people a choice who they wanted to see set free. And it was between me and this guy named Jesus that some people thought was the Messiah. And those idiots chose me.
Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it. I'm still pinching myself. This is the best day of my life. I was going to die, but now I'm alive. Barabas was supposed to die, but he got to live instead, and why did he get set free that day? Because someone else was chosen to die instead of him. Barabas got to live and Jesus went on to die. This scene. Gives us a picture of the gospel that is a picture of the good news, if there ever was one.
Now, if you look back on this scene and placed yourself in the story, who do you think you are?
When we look at the scene that took place on Good Friday, we have to realize that we are Barabas in the story, all of us. We are the ones who are guilty and who deserve to die, we deserve to die because of our sins, the apostle Paul says this in Romans Chapter three. Twenty three for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And he goes on to say this. Paul in Roman six verse twenty three for the wages of sin is death.
You see, Barabas stood guilty before a human court. We all stand guilty before a heavenly court. We've all sinned against God. And if we all got the justice that we deserved, we would all pay for our sins and hell forever.
But just like Barabas did we to have received the opportunity to walk away free. Well, someone who didn't deserve to die ends up dying instead of us in our place. Jesus died instead of Barabas that day, and on the cross, Jesus died instead of all of us. The Bible tells us that while on the cross, the perfect sinless son of God hung there while the sins of the entire world were placed upon him.
And when the sin of the world was on him, the father crushed Jesus in place of us. In place of us, for us, we can escape the judgment that we deserve from God, we can live forever, and instead of dying forever, we can do this by turning from our sins and trusting in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We do this by believing in Christ and then what he did.
We have a way out.
And if you choose to believe in Christ and turn your life over to him, you two will escape the justice you deserve. You can experience for yourself what Barabas experienced on Good Friday. Good Friday was a good day for Barabas because of what happened to Jesus. And Good Friday is a good day for everyone who has ever lived because of what happened to Jesus that seen no one. You see no to the second scene from Good Friday that I want you to imagine in your mind is the scene where we see Jesus hanging on the cross.
There's so much good to see in the scene, picture it with me, Jesus had been mocked, tortured and crucified and now the son of God hung on the cross. It was a physically, emotionally, mentally brutal way to die. The cross all by itself was unbearable. But I want to draw your attention to what was said to Jesus while he hung on the cross.
While Jesus was on the cross that day, people continued to hurl insults at him and they continued to mock him. They did this by suggesting that he should save himself if he actually could.
Let me read Verse is thirty nine to forty four from our text for you one more time. And it says and those who passed by derided him wagging their heads and saying you who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself if you are the son of God, come down from the cross.
So also, the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying he saved others. He cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel. Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him.
He trusts in God. Let God deliver him now if he desires him for, he said, I am the son of God.
And the robbers who are crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now, for the record, Jesus could have easily done what they were taunting him to do. They were telling him to save himself and Jesus could have saved himself that day if he chose to.
There is absolutely, absolutely no doubt that he could have.
If we flash back from the scene to only a few hours before this to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemani that took place on the very night before Good Friday when Jesus was being arrested and Peter tried to defend him. Jesus said these words to Peter in Matthew, chapter 26, verse 53. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my father? And he will at once send me more than 12 legions of angels? Jesus was basically saying this to Peter, Peter, none of these things is happening against my will.
I am choosing to let these things happen to me. I am letting them arrest me. My angels will come the instant I summon them, and all this mess would be cleaned up real quick.
All of it could have been over at any moment that Jesus decided it was enough, Jesus could have ended it all in the garden on the night before, and Jesus could have easily come off that cross on Good Friday when he was taunted to do it. But he didn't he didn't summon the legions of angels that were at his disposal. He didn't obliterate everyone that opposed him. He let them mock him. He let them spit in his face. He let them torture him.
He let them put a scarlet robe upon his tattered body. He let them put a crown of thorns on his head. He let them drive the nails into his hands and into his feet. He let them crucify him. And Jesus waited until the very end. While hanging on the cross with some of his final breaths, he uttered the words, It is finished.
He let them do everything they did to him until it was all done.
Jesus didn't save himself like he was mockingly told to do, even though he could have. But what if he did? Have you ever thought about that? What if Jesus responded to the taunts he received that day when they said to him, save yourself, what if Jesus was like.
OK. And then he did it, what if he came off the cross and walked away that day and he didn't die there on Good Friday? I'll tell you, that would have done if Jesus saved himself from the cross that day. That would mean that heaven would never have any human beings in it ever. You and I would never get to be in heaven. Nobody would be. We'd all be lost forever.
If Jesus didn't die on the cross for our sins, then at the end of our lives, we would have only one option available to us. Our only option would be to stand before the judgment seat of God given account for our sins and then pay for our sins forever in hell. That would be our only option if Jesus didn't die on the cross that day, but because Jesus died for our sins on the cross, we have another option now. Now we have a choice.
Now we can choose to have Jesus be the one to pay for our sins on our behalf.
That's the choice that God has made available to a sinful humanity. And if you choose to place your faith in Jesus, then you will have your sins forgiven.
And now the only thing that would have kept you out of heaven is gone from your life. Your sins are gone and paid for.
Like the lyrics of the old hymn say Jesus paid at all. If Jesus saved himself that day and didn't die on the cross, everyone would be in big, big trouble. But he chose not to save himself so that we could have the option of being saved, and that is good, good news.
Jesus didn't save himself on Good Friday and he didn't so that he could save us instead. Good Friday was a very good day for sinners like you and me. Let's see, number two, let's go to our third and final scene, this third and final season of Good Friday. I want us to see together is the scene where Jesus dead body is lying in the tomb again up front. This doesn't seem too good. It doesn't seem good because the light of the world was snuffed out by darkness.
The one who said of himself, I am the way and the truth and the life is not alive anymore. He's dead. This doesn't seem good, but it's so good. This dark scene is so good because it set the stage for the greatest display of power and hope the world has ever seen this scene on Good Friday. Set the stage for the scene that would take place on Resurrection Sunday in only a matter of days.
Jesus wouldn't be dead any more. He died on Good Friday, but he was coming to life on Easter Sunday because Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. He was in a position where he could conquer death by resurrecting from it and walking out of the tomb. Death used to when it used to have the final say when people died, they had this habit of staying dead. Death is one of the consequences of sin, but Jesus is the champion of life.
Jesus dealt with the sin problem on the cross, and then he defeated the death problem when he rose from it, overpowering it and overcoming it, never to taste the sting of death again. But Jesus couldn't conquer death unless he died first, he had to enter the jaws of death in order to dismantle it and walk away from it victorious. And that's what's happened. That's what happened on Good Friday. The son of God died and was laid in a tomb.
And then on Sunday, he would rise forever. We're going to spend some time looking at Jesus resurrection in a couple of days on Easter Sunday, but for now, know this, any good that we see in Good Friday is only good because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday.
None of the goodness we've looked at here in this message is good news if Jesus body is still rotting in the grave somewhere.
Christianity stands or falls on whether Jesus rose from the dead or not, and only because of the resurrection of sinners receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God as a gift, a gift that cost us nothing but a gift that cost God everything. That, my friends, is good news. That, my friends, is why we call Good Friday. Good. Good. A man. A man. When you pray with me. Let's pray, Father.
We worship you. We worship you for Good Friday. Are you so loved the world that you gave your one and only begotten son that whosoever should believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life? Good Friday is the goodis day that we have ever known, because on it you made a way for sinners to receive mercy, sinners to receive forgiveness.
On Good Friday, you showed your love to the world in that one act, one that one display of grace. You died for us. Thank you. Thank you, Lord. Right now I pray for my brothers and sisters, Lord, for Christians around the world. I pray, Lord, that this reality of Good Friday would not be a doctrine that we ever simplify or think is elementary or think that we graduate from and go to deeper, deeper doctrines and deeper dives into theology.
Lord, I pray that you let the cross of Christ be emblazoned on our minds and in our hearts. Let us never think that we've mastered the glory and the majesty of the Cross. But in it, Lord, we meditate upon the cross and your love that was poured out there in that we have for us the root of all of our joy, the root of all of our satisfaction, the root of all of our piece, the root of all of our power in the proclamation of the Gospel is found in the cross is found in the Gospel.
Lord, let your people preach the Gospel to ourselves over and over and over, that we would be built up in our most holy faith.
Remembering how much you love us, but let your people or be built up in their most holy faith with this gospel, with Good Friday emblazoned on our hearts and our minds, so that we were prepared and equipped to go into a lost, dark, sinful and broken world and tell everyone this news that God loves them so much that he died for them. Mobilize Your Church. To that end, we pray God because of Good Friday.
And Lord, right now, as the church, we pray if we have any friends among us right now watching this message, hearing this message of the goodness of Good Friday, and they still haven't received forgiveness of sins they haven't trusted in a they haven't believed in you. There may be hearing this for the first time. They may be hearing this for the 10000 time. If it's the first or the millionth time.
Father, we pray right now as the church that you would save sinners right now, Lord, that you would let their sin crush them under the weight of them, that they realize how hopeless they are to save themselves, that they would see what they deserve.
But Lord, open the eyes of their heart, that they can see you and see what you did on the cross and see you beckoning them to come and lay down their sinful life and take up your life instead. Lead them, Lord, to to reject their life and trust you for forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Let them simply come to you and ask you, Lord, for forgiveness, and you will grant them forgiveness and everlasting life saved sinners.
Right now we pray, Lord, do that this Good Friday. We we pray. And if anyone says yes to that invitation, Lord, your word tells us that the angels in heaven are rejoicing when one sinner turns in repentance. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. We pray all these things. Jesus, Lord Jesus in your sweet and Your powerful. In your most amazing name. Amen. Amen. Amen.