A reflective sermon based on Matthew 27:45-54 and preached by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett on Good Friday, April 02, 2010, at Faith Community Church, Barre, Vermont.
Matthew 27:45-54 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 At about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling for Elijah!" 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink.49 But the rest said, "Let's see if Elijah comes to save Him!" 50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, "This man really was God's Son!"
Why did Jesus have to die?
- Jesus died for our sins. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
What is sin and why is it bad enough to cause death?
- Sin is anything we say, think or do that is wrong.
Why is sin wrong?
- Sin is bad because of the hurt that it causes.
- Sin hurts other people.
- Sin hurts us.
- Sin hurts God by rejecting His perfect plan.
- Sin was so bad that when it was piled on Jesus, it caused darkness to come over the entire land.
- When we think of what sin has done to our nation and to our state, we understand that darkness is coming over our land.
- Sin is so bad that the Father had to look away from Jesus once the sins of the world were resting on Him.
- God the Father just couldn't look at that much sin.
- Think of how much this must have made Jesus suffer.
- Crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment used by the Romans.
- The Romans liked to use crucifixion because it was so gruesome and terrible that it scared people into obeying the Romans.
- Crucifixion began with beating Jesus' back with a whip called a flagrum. It had small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. During the beating, the skin was ripped from the back, exposing a bloody mass of tissue and bone.
- Roman soldiers also ripped Jesus' beard from his face and slapped him over and over again.
- They then crammed a crown of thorns onto his head. They crammed it on hard enough that it stayed on while he walked through the city carrying his cross. This means the thorns must have been embedded in his scalp.
- Jesus was then forced to carry his own 100 pound crossbar on his bloody back through the streets of Jerusalem to the execution site.
- Then spikes about 7 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter were driven into the wrists. The spikes would hit the area of the nerve, causing shocks of pain up the arms to the shoulders and neck.
- The crossbar was then lifted on to a 7 foot tall post that was already on the site.
- Jesus' feet were then awkwardly turned so that the feet could be nailed to the post.
- At this point, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints.
- The position of His nailed body held His rib cage in a fixed position, which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath.
- To breathe on a cross, Jesus was forced to push up on His feet to allow for inflation of the lungs. As the pain in His feet and legs became unbearable, Jesus was forced relax His legs and hang by the nails in his wrists again.
- Having suffered from the beatings, Jesus was described as extremely weak and dehydrated. He was probably losing significant amounts of blood.
- As time passed, the loss of blood and lack of oxygen would cause severe cramps, spasmodic contractions and probably unconsciousness.
- Jesus' lungs began to fill up with fluid.
- His heart began to fail.
- Depending on how strong the person was, crucifixion could last a couple of hours, or could drag on many hours. Jesus was on the cross at least six hours. Some say longer.
- Jesus suffered numerous hours of horrible and sustained torture on the cross of Calvary.
- And at any moment, He had the power to simply step off the cross and heal himself.
- It was not the nails that held Him on the cross; it was His love for us.
- The people witnessing the crucifixion were deeply moved by it.
- How would we have felt if we had been there?
- What thoughts would have been running through our minds?
- More importantly, what should our response to the crucifixion be today?
Jesus made a great sacrifice for us in order to pay for our sin.
Though we can never pay Jesus back for this sacrifice, we should seek to live our lives in such a way that demonstrates our deep appreciation of His sacrifice for us.