By popular Tradition, we limit Good Friday for remembering Jesus’ passion and death. It’s not wrong but there’s more to it. In this three-part sermon, we are going to watch Matthew’s narration of Jesus’ agonizing journey very closely to help ourselves take another step towards redemption.
Read Matthew 27:32-35
As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry Jesus’ cross. (Matthew 27:32)
A. The Bible doesn’t reveal much about the identity of Simon except he was from a city called Cyrene in North Africa.
B. Most probably a an African proselyte who came on pilgrimage to the holy city during Passover.
C. The soldiers had to force Simon to carry the cross. May be Simon was reluctant to take the cross on himself.
Why was Simon reluctant?
Simon was reluctant to carry the cross because it was an unclean task. The cross was drenched with Jesus’ blood and other body fluids.
It was a difficult task. The beam weighed over 300 pounds. It was a huge load for one man to carry.
It was an embarrassing task. Only the criminals condemned to death carried a cross. It was a sign of mockery.
It was an inconvenient task. Simon wanted to have nothing with this gruesome incident. He was on pilgrimage.
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Simon of Cyrene shows we cannot be Jesus’ disciples unless we are willing to step out of the comfort zone.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”)and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. (Matthew 27:33-34)
A. Gall was an animal secretion used as a pain killer in Jesus’ day. It was mixed with the sour wine to make it drinkable.
B. Since crucifixions were carried out in public the kind hearted women often offered it to the person being executed to dull the pain.
C. Jesus had lost a lot of blood and was thirty. The soldiers offered him some goal which tasted but refused to drink.
Why did Jesus refuse to drink?
Jesus came on a rescue mission. He was determined to complete the mission.
Jesus did not want to compromise the mission because he was mankind’s only chance at salvation.
Jesus was committed to take our pains and sorrows. He thought of our pain more than his own pain.
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Jesus showed we must not permit external factors to determine the degree of our commitment to God.
3. The curse
When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. (Matthew 27:35)
A. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400 BC and developed, during Roman times, into a punishment for the most serious of criminals. Crucifixion brought about a slow and agonizing death accompanied by dehydration, blood loss due to flogging and shock from the pain.
B. The posture itself was very agonizing. The victim endured paroxysms as he pulled with his arms and pushed with his legs to keep his chest cavity open for breathing and then collapsed in exhaustion.
C. Usually the victims were crucified naked and in public. It was very humiliating to the victim. The actual cause of death varied. It was either suffocation, cardiac arrest, loss of blood or all of these!
What is the significance of crucifixion?
It was a symbol of God’s curse because the Bible says so. Jesus was believed to be cursed by God.
The bodies of those crucified were left to the birds. They were not given a burial. This is also considered a curse from God.
These factors indicate that Jesus took the curse of God which we rightfully deserved on himself.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
We are entitled to receive healing and eternal life because Christ took our curse upon himself and paid the price for our iniquities. All that we have to do is to surrender ourselves to his authority.
This Good Friday message calls us to make three distinct types of commitments.
- The commitment for discipleship: be willing to take stand for Jesus
- The commitment to be faithful: don’t compromise in times of crisis.
- The commitment to follow Jesus: confess Christ as your savior
The type of commitment you need to make will vary depending on where you are in your life with Christ. Which one of these commitments do you think you need to make?
(If this sermon was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.)