A Survey of the Suffering of Christ on Good Friday

Rev. Jerry Keller | April 15, 2022

Trauma, pain, rejection, and all their hateful cousins are part of the human experience. All of us have some in our past, some in our present, and surely there will be more suffering to come. Jesus experienced a lifetime of trauma compressed into less than one day. The day we call good Friday was filled with that which would have crushed the life out of any living soul. Yet, He bore up under it. He carried it to the cross and to the grave.


This day, He felt the weight of finality. None of us know the moments we share for the last time. We never know when we will hold for the last time those things we hold most precious. He knew. His final meal, His final message, the final glimpse of a face. He knew He was singing the last hymn. Jesus knew when He tenderly washed and dried the feet of those who had walked with him for the final journey. He knew his own feet would be nailed together soon in Roman fashion. He knew where his final step would lead.


That which he observed He held in silent suffering. In the last Seder meal, His eyes alone observed angels and demons in the room that night. Angels bowed in humble deference. He held himself in restraint as demons glared at him in dark arrogance as they made their entrance in the heart of Judas. He would not cast these demons out; demons that hide in the heart of the unrepentant.


He slowed His pace on His final trip to the hillside of Gethsemane.  It would lead him to the trauma of agony; alone in prayer, while they slept. He would get no rest on His final night.


The kiss of a traitor felt like a dagger in his neck. He was finally seized and arrested; something He had never permitted before. The strain of the moment only increased as one of His own attempted to murder an aggressor. Jesus pressed through personal sorrow to restore the flesh to a servant bent over in waves of pain from a severed ear. “Put away your sword” would be the extent of His defense.


He watched as every last one of His men disappeared into the night; their robes waving a bitter goodbye. All those He had found and called one by one, now fled en masse. Left alone with his captors, He was led away to the place of carnal judgment.


Jesus felt the heavy weight of false judgment as the High Priest and his minions interrogated Him. They finally had him in their grasp. Each false charge was accompanied by a blow to the face, followed by spitting and condescending slaps. The session ended with the verdict of death, but even that was not enough. Now blindfolded, the mocking began, followed by yet another beating. The insults were rehearsed and delivered with a cheering audience. Finally, Jesus looked through the mist of swirling demons into the face of Peter who had just denied him for the third time with cursing that Jesus had never heard come from his lips before. Their eyes met as they exchanged pain; one from betrayal the other from shame. Then, four men lowered him into a pit below the home of Caiaphas where he would spend the remainder of the dark hours in isolation. He remembered another scene when four men lowered a broken man before him.


The trauma, now only a few hours old, found him bound and dragged, to the palace of Pontius Pilate and then on to stand before Herod’s false throne, just to endure more ridicule and mocking. It was here he would begin to hear the cries of the crowd. The One who refused to condemn was now hearing the chorus of “crucify.” “We are Legion” was now stirring the masses. He could see them as well as hear the screeching and hissing sounds that fueled the language of carnal men.


Lies, the very infrastructure of agenda, are always painful. He heard Pilate’s false declaration: “I am innocent”, spoken just before the command to have Jesus flogged with chords laced with broken bone and serrated metal. He was stripped in this public setting and thirty-nine times he felt the instrument strike his back, wrapping around his torso. The only strength he had in reserve was used to hold himself in restraint. Only a whisper would have summoned ten thousand warring angels to scorch the earth and yet only an involuntary cry rose from his heaving chest as they pressed the thorns into his scalp and brow. Contempt flowed like the blood from his wounds now only seconds old.


The cross beam was heavy with cruel intention as it scraped at the remaining skin on his shoulders as they led him through the streets. Just outside the gate and up one more hill they laid him on the ground, not for rest but in preparation for the abrupt thud of gravity to pull his body now attached to the cross into a hole hewn in the rock.


Thieves beside him, crowds mulling and mingling around him offered only more taunts. The trauma continued with the unknown. He did not know how much more He could take nor for how long. Demons continued in a hissing swirl. They were never hidden from the eyes of the Son of God. The unknown is worse than the known in the world of terrorism.


Some of the greatest pain he felt in his heart came the moment his vision cleared enough for him to catch a glimpse of his mother. She knelt with her face lifted toward his downward gaze. She heard the anguish in his voice when he spoke “immah” Aramaic for “mother”.


The pain of feeling alone and forsaken, for the first time in His life brought the final cry. Trauma, pain, torture, hatred, unspeakable grief and sorrow was not more than He could bear. It was more than we can bear. He did it knowingly, knowing that even on a day like today He would present His wounds to the Father that He bore for me. He did it willingly, in full agreement with the Father that even those who slapped, spit, and stripped him would need a Savior. He embraced that day lovingly, like a mother who longed to shelter her own under her wings.


Then, He gave up His spirit. Not taken, but given. He would not just arise victorious. He died victorious. This Friday is good.

Passover and Good Friday

Taylor Keller | April 15, 2022 | 14 Nisan, 5782

Some fifteen-hundred years before the events of Good Friday, the children of Israel are all living in Egypt – after being enslaved there for 400 years. 400 years. Can you imagine that length of time? It had been so long that the Israelites barely remembered who they were. Yet, in their collective memory, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph lived on – enough that a few still cried out to the God of their fathers for a deliverer. And God sent a deliverer. Moses. Born in a time of genocide. Miraculously protected. Raised in Pharaoh’s house. Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin”. But before he became their deliver, Moses fled Egypt, a man wanted for murder. It was the second time in his life Pharaoh had wanted to kill him. 

After many years in the desert, Moses had an encounter with God – YHWH – I AM THAT I AM – I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. From out of the midst of the burning bush the LORD commissioned Moses to deliver Israel from bondage. Now an old man, Moses returned to Egypt to confront the greatest power in the world at that time. Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses, his heart growing harder and harder with each encounter. With a “mighty hand” God exacted judgment on Egypt. This was an epic, unprecedented confrontation between God and an empire that had been set up against Him. Water turned blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. Death of Livestock. Excruciating Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness.

9 devastating plagues. The tenth was to be the worst one of all – a crushing blow to the Pharaoh and all Egypt which completed this display of God’s judgement on this evil world system. The tenth plague was to be the death of every firstborn in land. It was in the days before the final plague that God instituted the “pesah”… the Passover. It was also at this time that God began the Hebrew calendar. Here is how it happened: God said to Moses and his brother Aaron (my paraphrase), “This is a new beginning. These are the first days of the first month of the year. Now, on the 10th day, I want each Hebrew family to select a lamb – one year old and unblemished. Then, on the 14th day, the entire community will slaughter their lambs at twilight. I want them to take some of the blood and paint it with hyssop on the lintel and doorposts of their homes. That very night I want them to roast and eat the lamb along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. I want to you to eat it with your belt sinched, sandals on, and walking staff in hand. Eat it quickly. If any remains in the morning, burn it. On that night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn, both human and animal, and I will execute judgement on Egypt and on their gods. But when I see the blood on your doors, I will pass over that door and not allow the destroyer to enter your home.”

So the Hebrews obeyed the commands of the Lord through Moses and during the night, just hours after the lambs had been slaughtered and their blood applied to the doorframes, the final plague fell upon Egypt. A loud cry went up from all over the region that night but not a dog growled at any of the Israelites, as Scripture says. Finally, Pharaoh relented and it was as though the Hebrews were driven out of Egypt, as God had said. The Lord watched as Moses led His children out of Egypt that night, ultimately through the Red Sea, and then to Mount Sinai where they received the law.

God told Moses that Passover was to be kept every year thereafter. He foresaw the time when young Jewish children would ask “Daddy, why do we keep the Passover? What does this ceremony mean?” Moses told them they were to answer, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” Notice the words “for me”. Even today, the Jews believe that “In every single generation, every person should see themselves as though they actually were liberated from Egypt.” So… Every year since that first Pesah, Passover has been observed by the Jewish people. In fact, today is the 14th of Nisan and Passover begins at sundown. All over the world, the Jewish people are remembering their deliverance from Egypt, their redemption from slavery, and the night when they truly became the people of God.

Over the years, the Passover meal, called the Seder, has undergone slight changes and adjustments but it remains strikingly similar to the Biblical model found in Exodus 12. Today, on the Seder plate is the lamb meat, a hard-boiled egg, bitter vegetables, vegetables for dipping in salt water, charoset which is a mushy, sweet substance usually made of crushed apple, pear, walnuts and wine. Finally there is a lot of unleavened bread (called Matzah), and wine.

As I have said, From Moses until now, the Jews have continually observed the Passover by eating this celebratory and commemorative meal together. Jesus was no exception. Every year of his life, He kept the Passover – the feast of unleavened bread – probably many times in Jerusalem. I imagine Him as a young boy, dutifully asking Joseph the question, “Abba, why do we keep the Pesah?” But Jesus understood more than Joseph and growing in His awareness was the deeper reality of the Passover. He knew that He was greater than Moses and that He had been sent to the earth for an even greater Exodus.

So when Jesus gathered with His disciples on the night before His, it was no ordinary meal. They were eating the Passover meal together, the Seder, as they had always done. It was not only bread and wine on the table, but all the other elements of the traditional meal. It was during this meal of remembrance, as they moved slowly from one element to another, that everything changed. Jesus, their rabbi, and the one presiding over the sacred dinner, took the bread, blessed it, and broke it. Baruch… “Take, eat; this is my body” He said. Then He took the cup of wine on the table, gave thanks, and said “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” 15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Did you catch that? Jesus will not eat the Passover again until the FINAL exodus – when all of God’s people are brought together in glory. From this moment in the upper room the symbols of the Passover were radically changed. Jesus has inaugurated a new exodus. Your exodus. My exodus. This exodus would be available to all people – Jew and Gentile alike – for all time. Not an exodus from Egypt, but from the slavery of satan, bondage in sin, and the grey, unending monotony of life apart from God. In this Exodus Jesus is our paschal lamb. It is His blood on the doorpost. He is Moses leading all who would trust in Him out of darkness. His broken body is our way through the sea.

As he handed his disciples the bread and the wine, He wanted them to consider Moses and then consider Him. And He wanted them, after His death and resurrection, to break bread in remembrance of Him. So why do we receive the bread and the cup tonight? It is because of what the Lord Jesus did for me when I came out of slavery on that Good Friday many years ago. Tonight we remember our exodus.

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday Gatherings

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