Good Friday 2016

                       We just heard the Biblical account of what happened on that first Good Friday almost 2000 years ago.  And I'm certain that most, if not all, of you have heard it many times before.  Perhaps some of you might be thinking to yourselves, "Is the service almost over?", as if it is just an annual obligation to have to sit through another 'extra' service this Friday evening.  Perhaps you are even thinking, "Well, at least Lent is almost over!"  But is that all that this is to you - just another church tradition?  If so, then isn't it time you made it personal? 

            Let me give you an example...  one day you go for an annual physical at the doctor, thinking all is well.  After the doc is done examining you, and utters a few Hmmms' and 'Uh-huhs', he says "I need to run a few more tests".  "What do you mean 'a few more tests?'" you anxiously respond.  He says he needs to take an x-ray because something didn't feel quite right.  So he sends you over to the hospital for an x-ray.  After the x-ray is processed, the doctor calls you and asks you to come back in.  It seems you have a rather common condition that is treatable, but you need to take a specific medication exactly as prescribed, or it will quickly get worse and eventually be fatal.  So what do you do? 

            Well, you could say to the doctor, "I don't believe I have that disease, so you can save your medication for someone who really needs it.  You would be like the Pharisee who believes in his own righteousness, and doesn't believe he has the 'sin' disease for which Jesus is the cure.  Eventually he will die in his sins and be lost for all eternity.

            Or you could say to him, "I believe you that I have the disease, but I am going to try this other treatment that a friend of mine recommended.  It tastes better and comes in a prettier bottle".  You would like someone who realizes they are not exactly fit to enter heaven, but after seeing the movie, "The Passion of the Christ", decides that maybe a religion that doesn't require the Good Friday scenario is more palatable.  However, the Bible declares that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ.  Religion doesn't get us into heaven.  The shed blood of Christ does.

            Maybe you realize you have the disease, and that the medication the doctor prescribed is the one that you need.  You go so far as to purchase the medication, then you read the label, and it says that after you take it there will be a few side effects, and you should not eat certain foods that would interact badly with the medication.  So the medicine bottle sits on the shelf unopened.  You would be like the person who realizes they are a sinner, and even realizes they need Jesus to be their Savior.  They have a Bible, they attend church when it's convenient, but they really don't want to give up some of their favorite sins.  And if they give their heart to Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit, then that side effect of conviction might make those sins less enjoyable.  So they decide that they will put off that decision for Christ a little longer.  After all, there is still time for that, and they want to enjoy their life right now.  Perhaps they should have read the parable in the Bible about the rich fool in Luke 12, who said to himself, "'Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you'"

            Jesus is like the medicine.  Mere belief that you have the disease and He is the cure isn't enough.  You have to make it personal!  If you have never done so, perhaps God is speaking to your heart this evening.  This Good Friday could be the day that you bury your old self on the same night Jesus was buried, and rise to a new life through Him.  Just as He rose from the dead on Easter morning, you could rise from the burden and condemnation of your sins, from your destiny of being lost eternally, to a new life here on earth filled with the joy of salvation, and with the promise of an eternity with Jesus in heaven. 

            So as I close with prayer, if you would like to ask Jesus to be your personal Savior, you can pray silently, asking Him to forgive your sins, telling Him you believe He died and rose again for you, and that you want Him to save you and be your Lord, and help you to live your life for Him.  Or you can come up if you want me to pray with you during our closing hymn. 


And so I pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you willingly sacrificed your own Son as our ransom.  Thank you Lord Jesus, for be willing to humble yourself by being born in the flesh, suffering, and dying to free us from sin, death, and the devil, and rising again to forever intercede on our behalf.  Thank you Holy Spirit, for bringing us to Christ, and empowering us to live for Him.  I pray you touch the heart of everyone gathered here this evening, that no one would leave without knowing Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord; and it is in His name that I pray.  Amen.