How Much Are You Willing To Give?
Good Friday Service
April 2, 1999 Matthew 27:26-56
Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-31; 1Cor. 15:45-49
Responsive Reading # 640, Hymnal
Why do we call Good Friday good when Jesus was put to death on the cross? It was a bad thing that happened to Jesus, but it worked good for those he died to save. We call this Good Friday because of that tremendous accomplishment that Jesus did for us at his own expense. He completed the work he came to do that cost him his life. But it was also the ‘joy set before him’ as he took satisfaction in his accomplishment that saves our lives. His joy was that we might benefit at his expense. He gave all he had. How much are you willing to give? The story of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-31 tells us what he expects of us. But he does not expect anything of us that he did not expect of himself. This is the great test of leadership. The right to rule is born upon the waters of what we are willing to demonstrate to our followers. People learn best by example.
In Mark 10 we see that the rich young man wanted to inherit eternal life. In addressing Jesus, he called him good. Jesus brought his attention to the fact that only God is good. The lesson was that in addressing Jesus, the man was addressing God. This God he was addressing was indeed good as Good Friday would eventually show. But this young man wanted to know what he must do. In fact, he thought he had done it all, since he had followed what he thought were the commandments, and he wanted affirmation of eternal life from Jesus, whom he called, “Teacher”.
Now the Teacher was to fulfill his role as teacher in showing the young man his shortcoming, his besetting sin if you will. It is to those besetting sins that we are all too blind, as was this young man. This may be especially the problem of the young who are less prone to discern their shortcomings in the exuberance of youth. Jesus tells him in love to give away all he has to the poor. Note that Jesus responds in compassion to his youth. But he does not withhold the hard truth. Perhaps Jesus is silently smiling as he knows how hard it is for man to keep God’s laws to their full intent and that the young man just thinks he has kept them. But the answer Jesus gives him tells it all. It is the cost of following him. He must give away all he has. Jesus doesn’t ask him to do anything he himself is not willing, or about to do. Jesus gives away all he has on the cross.
You see, this young man is rich. He is rich in worldly goods. He is very wealthy. He is placing his security in his wealth. No wonder he asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. He has no assurance of eternal life because he is holding on to this one. We all do that in some sense. We are all lost. That is why Jesus mentions the illustration of the camel and the needle – it is hard, even impossible, for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle. We are impossibly lost, rich or not. But we must all become poor in order to become rich. Blessed are the poor in spirit for they will inherit the kingdom of God and the pure in heart for they will see God.
But the thing we must notice here is in relation to Good Friday. Jesus, as the Son of God, is incredibly rich. He gives up all his richness and becomes poor for our sakes, that we might become rich through him. He gives away all his wealth to the poor. But the rich have no need of his wealth since they are rich in their own eyes and won’t give it up. Their wealth is an illusion. Jesus explains to his disciples that it is impossible for man to save himself, only God can do that. The rich man refuses to accept the advice Jesus gives him. He remains incredibly poor when he could have had all the wealth of heaven that he had just asked about. When we ask questions, do we really want the answer? Or do we just want someone to affirm our error?
Jesus affirms for his disciples their own standing in this eternal inheritance, since they have left all to follow him. He assures them of heaven’s riches at his expense. That, by the way, is a definition of grace: God’s riches at Christ’s expense. How do we get that out of this? Note the last verse, Mark 10:31, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” This final sentence of explanation puts things in perspective for the disciples, if they understood it. He warns them against pride. They may have done what the rich man didn’t in leaving everything and following Jesus. But the disciples cannot get what Jesus offers them until he goes first. It will be his accomplishment on the cross that paves the road to heaven for them. They don’t fully understand all this yet. They will need to hear this message over and over again, just like us.
But we can come to a greater understanding of it by looking at 1Cor. 15:45-49. There it calls Jesus the last Adam, a life giving spirit. The first Adam is made of dust as are all who follow him genetically. The last Adam is the God-man Jesus who came to perfect the first Adam and his line from sin and make him a spiritual man just as Jesus is. Just as dust begets dust, so spirit begets spirit. So Christ Jesus is the last Adam, the perfect one. It is he that will share his perfection for us on the cross, showing us how to obtain it. He is the last that goes first upon the cross in order that the first may be last in following him in death to self. He is the spiritual man that dies like the natural man in order that the natural man may be a spiritual man. We only have what we are willing to give away. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” he says. Jesus, in whom we all have life because he sustains life (Col. 1:17), is willing to give his life that we may keep our lives eternally. The point of the story in relation to Good Friday is that Christ was willing to give away his riches for our poor sakes. He was willing to do what he asked the young man to do. How much are you willing to give?
Respect is an important thing. Without respect we are like nothing, of no account. There is no reason to live. Without any respect we might as well die. Jesus did. It matters very much how he died and why he died. But let us look at the cost to him.
I. Jesus gave up his self-respect: in the governor’s palace (vv. 26-31)
A. He was sentenced by earthly authority when he possessed heavenly authority (Rom. 13:1; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:3)
B. He was subjected to flogging as a criminal
C. He was humiliated before a company of soldiers (100)
They act as a pack of wolves surrounding their innocent victim as they taunt and ridicule and humiliate the one they know is condemned to die.
D. He was indecently stripped
E. He was made up as a mock king
1. He received a scarlet robe
2. He received a crown of thorns
3. He received a scepter of reeds
F. He was ridiculed with mock praise and allegiance
G. He was physically abused
1. He was spit on
2. He was struck on the head repeatedly with his mock scepter
H. He was even stripped of his mock kingship as they put his own clothes back on him
I. He was led away to be crucified , Ps. 22:1-21
II. Jesus gave up man’s respect: in the city and on the hill (vv. 32-46)
A. He couldn’t go the distance carrying his own cross
1. He was given conscripted labor to help
2. His temporary substitute may have been a Gentile
The one who was not able to carry his own cross is the one who enables us to carry ours. Simon epitomizes all of us in that we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
B. He was given bitter gall to satisfy his thirst, which he refused
C. His naked body was physically nailed to a wooden cross
Later excavations reveal the manner of nailing the heels overlapped sideways and parallel so the body is twisted, and the nails going through the forearms.
D. His cross was erected at an execution site of public exposure outside the city
E. His clothes were gambled away by lottery (his only possession), Ps. 22:18
F. His title as King of Kings was mockingly placed above his head as the charge (but they did not take his title away even in mockery)
G. He was crucified with robbers or Zealots – Barabbas was one of these that was released (but Jesus never stole anything but the hearts of the people) Mt. 12:29; 24:42-44
H. He was insulted by the crowds, Ps. 22:7-8
1. His teachings of truth were insulted
2. His power as God was insulted
I. He was insulted by the priests, Ps. 22:6
1. His power to save himself was insulted, Mt. 26:53 (but this he gave up so that others might be saved)
2. His title was insulted
3. His relationship to God was insulted
J. He was insulted by the robbers
III. Jesus gave up God’s respect: in heavenly places (vv. 45-50)
A. He was visibly rejected by God as symbolized in the darkness, Amos 8:9f
B. He felt rejected by God as heard in his statement, Ps. 22:1, 11, 19-21; Is. 59:2
Now on the cross he who had lived wholly for the Father experienced the full alienation from God which the judgment he had assumed entailed. His cry expressed the profound horror of separation from God (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13; 2Cor. 5:21) as he became the ransom for many (Mk. 10:45).
C. He was rejected by God as the people waited for verification, Ps. 69:21
D. He was so rejected that with a loud cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” he gave up his spirit and entrusted it to the One who judges rightly and died
His death was not a succumbing to exhaustion as might be expected of one dying on a cross, but it was a sudden, violent death. It was a death he willingly delivered, that God caused him to die for us. It was not his debt to sin but a reality to which he submitted. In the cross of Christ the Christian finds that place where God identified himself with man the transgressor and overcame the alienation of men by taking upon himself the death and wrath merited by human rebellion. The meaning of his death becomes clear only from the perspective of the triumph of the resurrection which marked his vindication and demonstrated that death had no claim on him.
IV. But look what happened when he gave it all (vv. 51-56)
A. God notices: the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, Heb. 6:19-20, 9:8
The tearing of the temple veil is a public sign that the rejection of the Messiah by the leaders of the people shows a failure in sensitivity to the divine purpose so serious that it seals the disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jesus’ death and the destruction of the formal structures of Judaism are inseparably bound together.
B. Creation notices: the earth shook and the rocks split
C. The dead notice: the tombs broke open and holy people came to life
D. The living noticed: the soldiers guarding Jesus called him the Son of God without mockery this time, but with well placed fear, Ps. 22:27
They ‘heard his cry and saw how he died’ (Mk. 15:39). The centurion had followed each step of the crucifixion exactly and knew that Jesus did not die in the expected way. The strength which he possessed at the moment of death was so unusual that the centurion spontaneously acknowledged Jesus’ transcendent dignity. By calling him the Son of God they confessed salvation truth, that Jesus humiliation and death was an act of obedience to a higher mandate.
E. His friends noticed: many women who followed him remained to serve him as King even in death, Ps. 38:11
The world is looking for a truly righteous leader who is willing to give it all. Our champion is Jesus Christ. We make him visible by being like him. They notice him when they notice us. Are we willing to give as he gave? Are we willing to give up even what we might call ‘respect’?
Matthew 10:25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
What are you willing to give that the world might notice him (not you, but him)? He gave up his respect for you. Are you willing to return respect to him now? You can begin by giving him the sacrifice of praise. We should not worry about what others might think of us. Our praise is intimately between God and us. But our praise also incites others to praise him if they are alive at all. The beginning of praise is the beginning of healing. We are healed not only individually but in community. We only have praise from him if we are willing to give praise to him.
During the class on inner city ministry that I took a week ago we learned the difference between the black church and the white church in America. To the black church, worship is celebration. To them, seeing is believing. If you feel worship, you express worship. To the white church it is reverence. But we can be so reverent we forget to celebrate. We could learn some things from the black church. We could make our worship a whole body experience. We could actually get involved in worship.
What holds us back? Is it what others might think of us? Do we dare let ourselves go, abandoning ourselves to the movement of the Spirit? Or do we insist on controlling all things to the exclusion and detriment of his proclamation? We can learn much from those in other lands whose faith has cost them everything (remember Chiapas?). They praise Christ with abandon. They have nothing to lose. They have everything to gain. Let us be rich in Christ and praise him tonight, and especially this Easter morning!
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-- the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Be Ye Glad!
And in these days of confused situations,
And in these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of a nation
Lie wounded and cold as a corpse
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
Comes a song bringing joy to the sad:
All your cries have been heard and the ransom
Has been paid up in full, be ye glad!
O be ye glad, O be ye glad!
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be ye glad! Be ye glad! Be ye glad!
So be like lights on the rim of the water,
Giving hope in a stormed sea of night,
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter
For these fugitives in their flight,
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle,
And you are winsome and young as a lad,
And there is no disease or no struggle
That can pull you from God, be ye glad!
Chorus; Prayer; Scripture; Message; Song; Hymn Service; Communion (Mark 14:12-26); Choir Practice