Good Friday, 19h00: Let Christ’s death not be in vain

We thank the Lord Jesus Christ that we have His word to ponder on and His Spirit to impress it on our lives. We can never exhaust the great work that Christ accomplished for us on the Cross. We stand in amazement. Our strength fails to comprehend that we have such a Saviour. May our hearts be quickened and revived when we see God’s mercy, experience the grace of our Lord Jesus and what He has prepared – the life He has given that we might have life.

We will read from Mark 15:33-41

33 And when the sixth hour[f] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.[g] 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[h] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son[i] of God!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

This is a wonderful but heart-rending portion. We can never expound on every point. We can only scratch the surface of the topic regarding the great sacrifice that Jesus made. How can we imagine Jesus coming

Out from heaven’s palaces, splendour filled and bright!
Came the King and He came to bring, to the world new life and light.

What grace is this that brought my Saviour down,
that made Him leave His glorious throne and crown.
The one who made the earth, the sky, and sea.
Who put the stars in every galaxy! What condescension,
oh how can it be! What shame He suffered, oh what agony!
And then the death He died, for sinners crucified,
What grace is this! What grace is this!

Oh the boundless Grace of God, seen in Christ the Lord.
Greater than all the sin of man and it’s freely now outpoured.

In this text some of the women at the cross are mentioned by name. These women followed Him and were with Him in Galilee. They ministered to His needs. They experienced that He was the Saviour who had come for them. Child, Jesus Christ did not come for your parents or the pastor, He came for you in order to make you an obedient child who loves and serves his parents. This love parts you from sin, the distractions of the world and all the honour, distinctions and degrees you can achieve. This love can only be experienced once you have experienced the bitterness and gall of sin and the destruction it brings about in your life. Jesus came to save you from your sin. What sin does Christ need to save you from? What sin repeatedly binds you and holds you in its grip that you are ashamed of? Have you seen Christ on the Cross?

These women faithfully followed Jesus because they discerned in Him this saving grace. They may have endured scorn and scoffing but Jesus was too precious for them. They said that they would rather spend their lives with him because they did not know how long the Son of Man would be amongst them. There was something that drew them to Christ. What draws you to Christ? Or what is the magnet that draws you away from Christ? You are prepared to live a hypocritical life – when you smile with the Christians but then you also laugh with the scoffers. You are not ashamed to enter church on Sunday but you are also not ashamed to enter into taverns and brothels, to go into the filth and mire of this world. You are not ashamed to disgrace the name of Christ. You are known as a Christian but you are found in places where a Christian should not put his foot.

These women were resolute. They decided that Christ deserved their love more than their families, more than their fathers, mothers and dear ones. They also experienced the darkness that came over the whole land, from the sixth to the ninth hour. In this darkness Jesus cried out. The darkness was as a result of the sinfulness of man. The one and only Redeemer, the only begotten Son of the Father, was willing to take this load of our sin and bear it. It brought darkness. He endured the darkness but cried out to the One who alone could save, to the One who has an ear for the perishing. Friend, do you find yourself in darkness? Such a darkness enters into the life of a person because of sin. Such a darkness can encompass a person through his own doing. Have you cried out to the One who can save you out of darkness? Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The One who had never forsaken Him before, but forsook Him now because of this darkness.

Christian, if you allow sin in your life you can find yourself in a darkness, where you are forsaken by man and God. How many in this world are not aware of the darkness they are in? They might be very wise in their own eyes and intellect but they do not realise that God has forsaken them. Salvation is close by. He is near to help the crying soul. How terrible if you persist in your darkness! How terrible to profess to see but be blind and encompassed in darkness.

27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.[e] 28 And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “He was numbered with the transgressors” 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. Mark 15:28 – 32

The Lamb of God was silent, like a sheep led to the slaughter. If passers-by rail on you, whether they are Christians or not, if they inflict wounds on you, can you be silent? Are you humble within? Can you perceive when you should shut your mouth and not burst out in self-defence? But you are defiant in your self-justification and self-defence. Instead of crying out to the One who can help you, can touch your intellect and your heart and teach you what to say and what not to, that you can discern with what words to reply and that your words are a fulfilment of Scripture, that Christ can be fulfilled in your life.
In His worst suffering, degradation and shame He did not utter a word – to the amazement of the onlookers. When He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” people misunderstood Him. Some said that He was calling Elijah but He never called out to Elijah.

36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Mark 15:36

Jesus cried out to His God. He did not cry in order that God should take Him down from the cross. He knew that He had a bitter cup to drink but He could pray, “Let Thy will, not Mine be done.”

How wonderful to find Christians who behave like those Christians who imitate Christ with healing flowing out of their wounds. Why do you lash back at someone who lashes out at you? Why do you want to give him vinegar to drink? When will we learn that lesson?

Christ endured the darkness that came over the whole land in order that the light should dawn in your life.

By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? Isaiah 53:8

It is not your neighbour who is a constant pain in your neck that He died for. It was for the transgression of My people that was He smitten.

37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. Mark 15:37 The work was finished and accomplished. Do you serve this Christ who has finished the work in your life? Has the darkness ended and has a new dawn broken? Christ died once and for all as the perfect Lamb of God, the complete sacrifice. No other sacrifice needs to be brought anymore. His blood has been spilled and that has reconciled mankind to God.

38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:38 Now we can be reconciled with God, our Creator. he can be your Father, Friend and Saviour for evermore.

39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[a] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son[b] of God!” Mark 15:39

Does your life, your mouth, your conduct preach and say, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” He is my Saviour.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: If you have come to that blood once, you will come to it constantly. Your life will be “Looking unto Jesus.” Your whole conduct will be epitomised in this-“To whom coming.” Not to whom I have come but to whom I am always coming. If thou hast ever come to the blood of sprinkling, thou wilt feel thy need of coming to it every day. He who does not desire to wash in it every day, has never washed in it at all. The believer ever feels it to be his joy and privilege that there is still a fountain opened. Past experiences are doubtful food for Christians; a present coming to Christ alone can give us joy and comfort.                                                                                                                                                          Morning by Morning, 17 April

This is what the Cross of Christ accomplished so many years ago and it is available to you today and every day.

Are you among that crowd near the Cross where you experience the cleansing power of your Saviour? Where He can show you that you spoke a wrong word to someone you despise? Where He can ask you why you gave him a cold shoulder or why you did not have a kind word to say?

In the time of Jesus’s greatest trial and suffering He remembered you and me. Will you remember Him in your trial and suffering? Do you ask Him for cleansing so that you will experience the joy and comfort of Christ with you and that He will be your dearest, the One by whom you exist and conduct your life?

May the Lord bless us in this Passover celebration that our eyes will be opened to wondrous things and that you will bring some gladness to His heart; so that He will not say that what He did was in vain for my life.

German translation

French translation