Good Friday 2003

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol
font) 

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

April 18, 2003

Good Friday

Jesus Christ – Our Redeemer

The songs and hymns we have song tonight have spoken about
Jesus as our "redeemer." What exactly does it mean that
Jesus is our "redeemer," and what was He redeeming us
from?

We often think of redemption in terms of gaining the value for
an object that its owner or the one responsible for it has placed
upon it. An example of this would be giving a discount coupon to
a merchant who redeems it for its stated value when you purchase
something from him. Another example would be giving a gift
certificate to a merchant who gives you the gift or prize
specified on the certificate.

Another way in which we commonly think of redemption is
getting back the value we paid for something. An example of this
would be redeeming your bottles and cans to get back the deposit
you paid on them. The reverse of this would paying to get back an
object for which someone gave you deposit money. That is how pawn
shops operate. The operator gives you money for an object, and to
redeem that object you must pay that money back plus interest.

The basic idea of redemption in the Bible is to deliver from a
master, a debt or evil by the means of a payment This includes
the idea regaining possession over property that was sold. Bible
passages such as Leviticus 25 discuss the rights of property
redemption and proper valuation. There were various commandments
given to govern how long properties could be redeemed after they
were sold. A house in a walled city could be redeemed for one
year. A house in an unwalled city or in the country could be
redeemed until the year of Jubilee when it would revert to the
original owner anyway. And the Levites held permanent right of
redemption over their property.

Redemption rights would pass to near relatives. Biblical
example of this include Boaz redeeming the lands of Elimelech and
Ruth who was the widow of the heir. The prophet Jeremiah did this
when he bought the field at Anathoth from his cousin.

This same basic idea is applied to the payment made to get out
of a debt owed. For example, in Exodus 13:2 God declared that the
first born of Israel, both man and beasts, belong to Him. Certain
animals would be given to the priests, others would be
sacrificed. If a man wanted to keep to keep the first born of an
unclean animal, such as a donkey, then it would have to be
redeemed either through a monetary price being paid to the
priests (Numbers 18:15,16) or a substitute clean animal being
sacrificed in its place (Exod. 13:13). In the case of humans, the
tribe of Levi was the substitute ransom price for first born for
the rest of Israel (Numbers 3:45-51).

This idea is carried further to be a synonym for salvation.
There are many Psalms which contain prayers for redemption. Psalm
25:22 request God to redeem Israel out of all his trouble. Psalm
44:26 asks God to "Rise up, be our help, And redeem us
for the sake of Thy lovingkindness."
In Psalm 49:15 the
psalmist speaks confidently that "God will redeem my soul
from the power of Sheol; For He will receive me."

What are we to be saved from by redemption? Psalm 130:7,8
reveals "O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord
there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption . 8
And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities."

Redemption and salvation are equated with each other because
it is redemption that pays the price required by our sin.
Redemption saves us because it frees us from our bondage to sin
and its consequences. Paul speaks of this in Romans 6:20 saying,
"For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard
to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then
deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the
outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed
from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting
in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."

Redemption frees us from our former bondage to sin to
which we were slaved and transfers us to the kingdom of God that
we might instead be slaves of righteousness.

Paul pointed out in Romans 3 that is redemption is found
Christ Jesus. In verses 22-25 Paul explains that God’s
righteousness is manifested through justifying all those who have
faith in Jesus in as a gift by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed
publically as a propitiation in His blood through faith
(3:22-25).

But why such a high price as the blood of Christ? The answer
is that death is the cost of sin. The redemption price must meet
that cost.

I have heard some say that the God of the Bible is a blood
thirsty god because of all the animal sacrifices demanded in the
Old Testament and the requirement of Jesus death in the New
Testament. Such people often also equate the true God with the
pagan gods that demanded human sacrifices to be kept satisfied.
Simply put, that is not true. Why then all these blood sacrifices
of animals in the Old Testament and the crucifixion of Jesus in
the New Testament?

The answer is found in the cost of sin. God had warned Adam
that on the day that he broke God’s one prohibition of
eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam would die.
When Adam did eat of that tree he did die. Death is separation
and on that very day, Adam and Eve’s disobedience caused
them to became separated from God. They died spiritually. The
physical process of death also began. The nakedness of Adam and
Eve exposed their sinful disobedience, so they tried to cover
their shame with fig leaves, but man’s effort to cover his
own sin is always inadequate. The outward reminder of the cost of
their sin came in the death of the animal that God killed as a
substitute for them so that they could have a covering for their
nakedness. (The word "covering" is the same word as
"atonement").

Sin brings death. Adam was warned of it (Gen. 2:17) and God
has repeated that sentence. Ezekiel 18:4"The soul who
sins will die."
Romans 6:23"For the wages of
sin is death
."

All the blood sacrifices required in the Mosaic law were only
reminders of the cost of sin. The death of the animal was a
substitute for the person who sinned. However, the death of the
animal was not an adequate substitute in itself. As Hebrews 10:4
tells us, "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls
and goats to take away sins
." Animals are not of the
same nature of value as a human. They were offered in faith by
the worshiper and accepted by God on that basis in anticipation
of the only blood sacrifice that could pay the full redemption
price. It had to be a sacrifice of the same nature and value.

Some false religions have recognized the core of this truth to
one degree or another, so they instituted human sacrifices. But
such sacrifices only increased the sin problem of those who
offered them. First, in order to be a sacrifice that could be a
substitute payment for sin, the sacrifice would have to be
sinless, otherwise the death of the sacrifice would only be the
just cost of his own sin. But all humans have sinned against God.
Every human has failed to completely adhere to all of God’s
commands. No human has even managed to even keep the 10
commandments. Is there any human who has never told a lie? Who
has never taken anything that was not theirs without permission –
stealing? Who has not coveted something that someone else has?
Who has never failed to use God’s name only in the most
reverent manner of worship? Who has never let anything in their
life become more important to them than their worship of the
Creator? Has their ever been a child that has always obeyed their
parents in action, thought and attitude? The sacrifice would have
to be sinless.

Second, the sacrifice would have to voluntary otherwise those
offering the sacrifice would be committing murder, which is a
violation of God’s laws, and murderer do not go to heaven
(Matt. 5:21,22; 1 John 3:15; Rev. 21:8).

Third, the sacrifice would have be of value beyond one sin by
one human, because the cost would have to be paid every time the
person sinned. As Hebrews 10:11 points out concerning the Old
Testament animal sacrifices, "And every priest stands
daily ministering and offering time after time the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins."
Every time
person sinned, another sacrifice would have to be made.

There is only one sacrifice that meets all the criteria needed
to be the redemption price for sin, and that is Jesus Christ. He
was fully human, so he is of the proper nature for the sacrifice.
As Galatians 4:4,5 states, "But when the fulness of the
time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under
the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the
Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."
He is
of the same value as us.

Jesus also willingly offered Himself up as the sacrifice
payment for redemption. He "gave Himself for us, that He
might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a
people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds"

(Titus 2:4). As Jesus Himself said in John 10:17,18, "For
this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that
I may take it again. 18 "No one has taken it away from Me,
but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay
it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This
commandment I received from My Father."

An third, Jesus is of infinite value to pay the price of the
sin of every person for all time because He is also God. Romans
6:10 says, "For the death that He died, He died to sin,
once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."

Hebrews 9:12 says of Jesus that "through His own blood,
He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption
." Hebrews 10:9-12 adds that "we have
been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and
offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never
take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins
for all time, sat down at the right hand of God."
Jesus
sat down because He had finished the work of redemption.

Tonight we reflect on Jesus’ work of redemption for us.
All that Jesus went through on this earth culminating in His
death on the cross was for the purpose of redeeming us from sin.
That is something for us to carefully reflect upon this day,
above every day as we mark the anniversary of the day that Jesus
died for our sins. We are going to partake of communion in a few
minutes, and as Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:26, and as we do so, we
proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

So tonight, as we come to the Lord’s table, consider all
that Jesus went through in order to pay the price of your sin.
You were not redeemed with silver or gold or other things held
precious by worldly men, but rather with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a lamb without spot or blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).

Jesus left the glories of heaven with the Father to become a
man and dwell on this earth. He did not come into a family of
wealth, prestige, honor and power fitting to His actually
identity as the King of kings, but rather in humility he was born
in a stable to a poor family. He then grew up in the humble home
of a carpenter in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee. He lived a
sinless life and then embarked on three years of public ministry
in which he suffered many things. There were times He was hungry
(Matt. 4:2; 21:18). There were times He was so exhausted from
dealing with people that He was able to sleep in a boat being
tossed about in the midst of storm (Matt. 8:24). There were
people that slandered and ridiculed Him and tried to publically
humiliate him. He had multitudes follow Him and then walk away
(John 6). Though He had great acclaim when He came to Jerusalem
the last time, within a few days one of His disciples would
betray him, one of them would publically deny Him and the rest
would flee (John 18). The fickle people that had shouted Hosanna,
would now cry out for Him to be crucified.

Jesus suffered the injustice of an illegal trial in which He
was mocked. He was then sentenced to die by the Roman Governor,
Pilate, who knew the truth that Jesus had done nothing worthy of
death and openly pronounced that he found no guilt in Him, but
Pilate was more afraid of the crowd than God who would judge him
for his failure to do what was right. Jesus then suffered a
scourging. The whip used for scourging was made of several long
pieces of leather attached to a handle of some sort. At the end
of each piece of leather a piece of stone, bone, metal, pottery
shard or other sharp object was tied. The victim had his hands
tied to a pole over his head with his feet dangling. Often there
would a scourger on both the right and left side who took turns
lashing the victim. It would not take long before the back and
sides were opened up exposing eternal organs which would soon be
lacerated too. It was not uncommon for men to die of the
scourging before they were crucified. How badly Jesus scourged is
unknown, but it was severe enough that He physically collapsed
while trying to carry his own cross a short time later.

Jesus finally did make to Golgatha where He was laid down on
top of the cross, spikes were driven through His hands and feet,
and then He was lifted up and the cross pushed into its resting
hole. As it dropped into the hole, Jesus’ flesh would tear.
The rough would with its many splinters would scrape His back
which was already flayed open by the scourging, and then the slow
process of suffocation by crucifixion would begin.

It must be remembered that crucifixion was used as a means of
executing someone in one of the most painful and agonizing
manners possible. With the arms raised even with or over the
head, breathing would become very difficult and only with
increasing labor could the individual can swell his chest to
breath in. Orthostatic collapse would also occurs. The blood
would settle into the lower parts of the body, and soon
insufficient blood reaching the brain would cause the person to
become unconscious. The blood flow to the heart and lungs would
become insufficient and result in the victims death. But the
Roman executioners found they could increase the suffering by
tying or nailing the feet to the stake so that the victim could
push himself up catch a breath and increase blood flow. This
rasing and lowering would continue to scrape the already scourged
back against the rough post. The desire to breath would overcome
the pain caused by pushing against the spikes through the feet
and hands. The loss of blood only increased the thirst. Jesus
endured all this for three hours.

Normally, a victim of crucifixion could last 1 to 3 days
before utter exhaustion resulted in an inability to raise up and
get a breath any longer and suffocation would occur. If death was
desired to occur more quickly, the legs would be broken, as
happened to the two thieves on either side of Jesus. But in
Jesus’ case it is important to remember that in the midst of
all the suffering, it was not the cross that killed. As already
pointed out, Jesus willing gave up His life. No man could take it
from Him. Jesus died at the appointed time, when the lambs were
being offered for the Passover sacrifice, because He Himself
yielded up His Spirit.

It should also be remembered the physical pain of the
scourging and crucifixion was not the worst part of the agony
Jesus suffered. The greatest suffering came at that moment in
time when Jesus, God the Son, the second person of the trinity,
bore our sins upon Himself and God the Father turned His face
away from the Son. Jesus cried out "My God, My God, Why hast
Thou forsaken Me." Jesus, in His full humanity, then paid
the price for my sin and your sin. It was finished, and Jesus
gave up His spirit.

As we know come to the communion table, reflect on the price
of your redemption. It is a sobering thing to meditate on because
its high cost is the reminder of the depth of our sin against
God. Yet, at the same time, it is price of our hope – a confident
assurance – that God will forgive the sins and accept to Himself
the one that believes on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. We can do
nothing to redeem ourselves. The price was too high. God paid it
Himself and offers it freely to all of humanity.

Take some time tonight to make sure you are right with God.
Confess your sins to Him and He is faithful to both forgive and
cleanse. He does this for the Christian that we might have
nothing hinder our relationship with Him. He does this for those
who to this point were unbelievers, that they might become true
followers of Christ and have a personal relationship with Him.