Good Friday

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As you know, last Friday we celebrated Good Friday. We celebrated the fatal suffering of Jesus Christ as recounted in the New Testament. This is one of the most well established facts of ancient history. The reason we can say we celebrate the brutal death of Jesus Christ is because, as we celebrated on Sunday, Jesus Christ rose again. Imagine that, when you take communion you celebrate the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ, but you do it with joy, because of the resurrection.

For Good Friday, though it is appropriate to remember that the best medical minds of ancient and modern times have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ’s physical trauma was fatal.[1] His torment began in the Garden of Gethsemane after the emotional Last Supper. There Jesus experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis. Tiny capillaries in His sweat glands ruptured, mixing sweat and blood. As a result, Christ’s skin became extremely fragile.

The same night, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, disowned by Peter, and arrested by the temple guard. Before Caiaphas the high priest, He was mocked, beaten, and spat upon. The next morning, Jesus, battered, bruised, and bleeding, was led into the Praetorium. There Jesus was stripped and subjected to the brutality of Roman flogging. A whip replete with razor-sharp bones and lead balls reduced His body to quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. As Christ slumped into the pool of His own blood, the soldiers threw a scarlet robe across His shoulders, thrust a scepter into His hands, and pressed sharp thorns into His scalp.

After they mocked Him, they took the scepter out of His hand, and repeatedly struck Him on the head. Now Jesus was in critical condition. A heavy wooden beam was thrust upon Christ’s bleeding body, and He was led away to a place called Golgotha. There the Lord experienced ultimate physical torture in the form of the cross. The Roman system of crucifixion has been fine-tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify its horror.[2]

At “the place of the skull,” the Roman soldiers drove thick, seven inch iron spikes through Christ’s hands[3] and feet. Waves of pain pulsated through Christ’s body as the nails lacerated His nerves. Breathing became an agonizing endeavor as Christ pushed His tortured body upward to grasp small gulps of air. In the ensuing hours, He experienced cycles of joint-wrenching cramps, intermittent asphyxiation, and excruciating pain as His lacerated back moved up and down against the rough timber of the cross.

As the chill of death crept through His body, Jesus cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?–––which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?””(Matthew 27:46). And in that anguished cry was encapsulated the greatest agony of all. For on the cross, Christ bore the sin and suffering of all humanity. And then with His passion complete, Jesus gave up His spirit.

Shortly, thereafter, a Roman legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth inter-space between the ribs, upward through the pericardium, and into Christ’s heart. From the wound rushed forth blood and water, demonstrating conclusively that Jesus had suffered fatal torment.

Jesus Christ, who spoke and the universe leap into existence, was willing to lay prostrate in the pool of His blood before His creation. He was the creator and yet willing to lay in the pool of his own blood because He loved us so much He wanted a relationship with us, not only for time but also for eternity. A relationship purchased by His passion on the cross.

Those of us who have been redeemed know that Christ is more real than the very skin upon our bones. We know beyond the peradventure of a doubt that Christ has left us here for a purpose. We have received the greatest of all gifts and we now have an opportunity to share that gift with those who so desperately need it. God ordains the ends as well as the means and you are the means through which the Holy Spirit moves in the process of changing lives. The goal of equipping God’s people to make a difference was highlighted in a recent book we had on the Bible Answer Man that I hope you will check out. It’s called, Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Day at the Links of Utopia. It’s a great book on how you can change and influence someone’s life for Christ.

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[1] All the following medical data and descriptions concerning Christ’s suffering are adapted from C. Truman Davis, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Passion of Christ from a Medial Point of View,” Arizona Medicine (March 1965): 183-187; and William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On The Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” The Journal of the American Medical Association  (21 March 1986): 1455-63.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ  (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998), 197-198.

[3] More specifically, the spikes were driven through Christ’s wrists, which in Jewish understanding were part of the hands.

 


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