Good Friday 3/30/2018 Roman 8:18-19
Rev. Mylicia Markham

(Hymnal Page 881)
In the Nicene Creed and the Apostles creed, the only word used in connection with the entire span of Jesus life is “Suffered”.
“Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried……
What a way to describe the life and ministry of a man so famous for his teaching, parables, healing and other works.
Today, the day we remember Christ’s death on the cross, is traditionally called Good Friday, which often strikes “thinking” people as exactly the wrong word to designate the day on which Jesus suffered so horribly. But “good” (as it is used to refer to this day) is an old English expression for “holy,” and the word is telling us that the events of that day had beneficial effects for us. The term “Good Friday” does not appear in the Bible, but the Bible does use the word “good” often to mean a satisfying experience of reality rather than to define a moral norm. It is most commonly used as an adjective to describe or appraise the beautiful feature, desirable quality or useful purpose of a person, thing or event. For example, after God created light, he called it “good”
(Genesis 1:4). God also called the Law “good” (Psalm 119:39; Romans 7:12). And Jesus said that the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep is “good” (John 10:11).
The plot to kill Jesus was not cooked up overnight. According to John 11:53, the high priest
Caiaphas and his cohorts had set that plan in motion several days beforehand, right after Jesus
raised Lazarus from the dead. So imagine, with me, that someone from the high priest’s circle
started a checklist (something I live by) of what needed to be done to get Jesus executed.
Robert McAfee Brown, a military chaplain, suggests it might have read like this:
+ Sound out Judas. Get him to keep us posted on Jesus’ whereabouts.
+ Check with priests about bribe money for Judas.
+ Alert guards to be ready to follow Judas at a moment’s notice.
+ Arrange for half a dozen people to meet with [the Sanhedrin legal officer]. Have him drill them
on charges to make against Jesus at the trial.
+ Requisition funds from Caiaphas to pay off the “witnesses.”
+ Hire a messenger to call members of the high court (Sanhedrin) together at a moment’s notice.
Facing the Cross-Facing Suffering

(Impress on him that we’ve got to pull this thing off before the Passover, since no one can be put
to death during the Passover.)
Send representatives to Pilate to point out that he had better condemn Jesus too, unless he wants
bad reports sent back to Rome.
As you can see, a lot of behind-the-scenes illegalities were committed related to Jesus’ trial. Had
he been tried under the laws of United States, some smart attorney could’ve found plenty of
reasons to get him off, and possibly the crucifixion would never have happened.
But no. Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council, where, according to Matthew
and Mark, there was a deliberate use of “false witnesses” who were allowed to give testimony
against him (Matthew 26:59-61; Mark 14:55-59).
Under U.S. law, a good lawyer could have found a number of “reversible errors” in the way Jesus’
trial was conducted to warrant reversal of judgment against him on appeal.
But, of course, all of this is neither here nor there. Jesus was tried and executed long before our
legal system existed. The case against him was no doubt rigged, but as the gospel writers
understand it, his death — as unwarranted as it was — was part of God’ plan to save the world.
Which brings us back to the matter of reversible errors, but in this case, not Jesus but yours or
mine. We may have things in our past that we are so ashamed of or feel so stained by that they
seem to us to be irreversible errors/irreversible sin — things that we carry daily and we cannot
seem to be rid of.

Yet because of the cross, these errors/sins, to use this metaphor, are “reversible,” i.e., forgotten,
erased, removed “as far as the east is from the west,” as Psalm 103 puts it (v. 12).
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1
Corinthians 15:3).
And as John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and
cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Much of the time, however, we’re convinced our major errors and sins are not reversible. The
memory of them haunts us.
Brown, as I just stated, was a military chaplain during World War II, and he tells of being on a
troop ship after the war ended with 1,500 Marines being brought back to the United States from
Japan. On board, a small group of Marines asked him to lead a Bible study, and he chose the story
Facing the Cross-Facing Suffering of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Brown explained to his audience that the incident
dramatized what Jesus said on that occasion — “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who
believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will
never die” (John 11:25-26)

After the discussion was over, and those in attendance dispersed, one corporal followed the
chaplain back to his cabin. There, he confessed that the Bible lesson seemed aimed directly at
him. He explained that six months previously, while serving with the forces, he’d gotten bored and
finally, one night, he’d gone off with some friends and gotten into serious trouble. Apparently, no
one knew about it, but he knew about it and he was sure God knew. And the Marine felt terribly
guilty. He felt he had ruined his life and wasn’t sure how he was going to face his family back
home.

He told the chaplain that like Lazarus, he’d been a dead man, but after listening to the Bible study
that day and hearing Jesus’ words about resurrection he’d become convinced that the forgiveness
of God could reach even to him. Or, to use the metaphor language we started with, through
Christ, the error was reversible, at least as far as the man’s guilt was concerned. We don’t have
any details to know whether there were other steps — such as making amends with someone else –
– he should have taken, but he did discover that his guilt could be released.
Perhaps we’ve never done anything on the scale of this Marine’s wrongdoing. Truth is, none of us
gets through life without some regret. We’d love to have a “do-over” for some incident where we
handled things badly.
But here’s the thing: God’s willingness to forgive is tied to God’s realization about human nature.
God knows we cannot avoid sins and sufferings. So forgiveness and reversibility are built into how
God relates to us through Christ.
And Christ’s death on the cross — seemingly the success of the plot against him — becomes in the
larger picture a sign of God’s love for us and an emblem of forgiveness and reconciliation with
God. Tonight’s scripture reminds us: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth
comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
In that sense, and for our benefit, then, this day is Good Friday. On this day, Jesus died, a sad
event by all accounts, but we can call this day “Good” because by God’s power, the error of Jesus’
examination, condemnation and execution was reversed!
God overrode the evil human intention.
And likewise, through what happened on this day, God offers us reversal from guilt; forgiveness
for our sign-our wrongdoing.
Facing the Cross-Facing Suffering

“Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried……
Jesus came that we may have life and life to the fullness. He came, He suffered to pay the price
for our sins.
He brought his best friends together and he broke bread –as we did last night- because it’s
impossible to worship God as God deserves alone. You see we don’t just have a personal
relationship with Jesus. We have something so much better. We have a shared relationship
with Jesus. Jesus came for people like me, like you – who needed help, grace, mercy and
forgiveness.
We are going to have a time now-in a very personal way. Giving you an opportunity to examine
your relationship with Christ and to each other. Maybe for the first time, you make a commitment
to Christ-or a commitment to your church. Maybe it pain, hurt-maybe you need forgiveness.
Maybe you want to Thank your Lord; whatever it looks like for you. Tonight is your Good Friday.
Jesus came that we may have life-life to the fullness. Does that look like you?
Facing the Cross-Facing Suffering