Ep. 10: Good Friday
April 11, 2020 Speaker: Jeff Brewer
Topic: Good Friday Passage: Matthew 26:17–26:46
Hello, Hope Fellowship! Welcome to our podcast “Full of Hope: Encouraging One Another with the Word of God,” where we seek to regularly equip the people of Hope Fellowship with truth from Scripture in order to help us cling to our Savior during troubled times.
Today, we’re thinking about Good Friday, and I want to focus out time around what Jesus knew when he was headed to the cross. We’ll be primarily looking at Matthew 26.
I want us to think about three things Jesus knew in the shadow of the cross: he knew he would die. He knew he must go to the cross alone. And he knew what his death would accomplish.
Jesus knew he was headed to the cross to die
At the beginning of Matthew 26, Jesus says to his disciples, “You know that after two days the passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
When the Israelites in Egypt killed a spotless lamb and put its blood over their doorpost in the first Passover, it anticipated the Passover that Jesus would celebrate with his disciples and that he would lay down his life intentionally as the Spotless Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.
At the last supper, when they eat the passover together, Jesus tells the disciples that one is going to betray him before he goes on to break the bread representing his body that will be broken and drink the cup which represents the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26–29).
Jesus knew the events that were unfolding and that his life and ministry had been leading to this time when he would willingly lay down his life.
And even as he says this, unbeknownst to the disciples, Matthew records that the religious leaders are meeting and are plotting to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter will put these two things together—that Jesus was willingly, with full knowledge, going to his death, and that the religious leaders were the ones who were going to do it. Peter says in his sermon on Pentecost that this Jesus, who was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
The crucifixion of Jesus was done willingly by our Savior, in the will of God, and it also represented the height of human sin and rebellion against God. There is true guilt on the hands of those who crucified him—apart from the grace of God, we would have done the same thing. That is how serious our sin is.
Jesus knew he was going to lay his life down on the cross.
The second thing I want us to reflect on during this dark day, what we know as “Good Friday,” is what Jesus tells the disciples in the garden:
Jesus knew he must go to the cross alone, forsaken by all.
In Matthew 26:31, Jesus says to his disciples,
“You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”
This is a quote from Zechariah 13:7, where the prophet spoke of a messianic shepherd and king who would be the ruler of his people and destroy the enemies of his kingdom.
It would seem that Jesus being abandoned by his followers puts this in doubt, but instead it shows what God has intended all along—the Shepherd would gather the flock by going where they could not go. He alone could go to the cross. He alone could pay for sins.
But Peter disputes Jesus' claim that all will fall away: “Though they all fall away from you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night before the rooster cross, you will deny me three times.”
Peter says, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Of course, the disciples will all run away and save themselves as Jesus is arrested. Peter will deny him as he warms himself by the fire later that night.
If you remember, some of Jesus’ disciples had turned away from him when he taught the hard saying in John, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him . . . Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (John 6:52–59).
When Jesus turns to his disciples and says that this is a hard saying he asks his disciples point blank, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Peter was the first to respond, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Though Peter had been so confident that there was no one else to turn to and that he would never betray him and fall away, he didn’t realize the path that Jesus was walking and how he didn’t have the strength to walk this path.
In Matthew, just after this, Jesus invites them to pray in the garden. And though they all said they would follow him, they couldn’t even stay awake to watch and pray with him.
It’s in the garden that we see the awful weight of sin. Jesus says in Matthew 26:38,
“My soul is sorrowful, even to death.”
And then he falls on his face and prays,
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus knows where he is heading; he knows he must walk the path alone because he alone can bear our sin. And in his prayer we see not an unwilling Savior, but one who again knows exactly what payment for sin is going to take. Beaten. Rejected. Crucified.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus was tempted by the devil to not begin the path to bring salvation. When Jesus prays that if it is possible for the cup to pass, it is a prayer that once again entrusts himself to the will of the Father.
John Piper writes of this temptation that Jesus faced in the garden:
What Satan wanted to produce in Jesus was a spirit of despondency that would sink, unopposed, in resignation and prompt Jesus not to carry out what his Father had given him to do. (The Works of John Piper, Vol. 4, p. 326)
When he calls the disciples to pray again that they not face temptation, he is calling them with the full knowledge of the will of God and the suffering that is about to happen.
After praying three times, Jesus is betrayed and arrested and taken to trial.
Jesus knew he must go alone to the cross.
Jesus knew what his death would accomplish.
Back in the upper room at the last supper, Jesus knew what his death was going to accomplish. He had always known, because it had been the plan of the Triune God since before the foundation of the world to save his people through the Son taking on flesh.
When Mary was found to be with child, the angel tells Joseph, “And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
At the beginning of John, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
The Apostle Paul writes this amazing truth in Ephesians 1:4: “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
On Easter Sunday we will talk more about this truth of being united with Christ in his death and resurrection. But what we should see here in Ephesians is this was planned before the foundation of the world—that all who believe in the Son will be saved by his death and resurrection because we are “in him.” Before kingdoms, before cities, before creation itself, when it was God alone who existed, the plan was for believers in Jesus to have salvation through him alone.
So Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what his death would accomplish. He knew when he was at table with the disciples that his blood was about to be shed, and he was preparing them with a tangible reminder of this death in the cup filled with wine. The bread that was broken that symbolized his body broken for them. Jesus knew he was going to the cross to accomplish salvation, and he prepared us with these simple elements to remember his death until he comes.
But we remember tonight that we have a Savior who had full knowledge that he was going to the cross to lay down his life. We have a Savior who knew that he alone could go to this cross. And we have a Savior who knew what his death would accomplish.
Man of Sorrows, what a name for the Son of God who came. Ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah! What a Savior.
Remember, we have hope in Christ. Let’s encourage ourselves with the gospel and by speaking truth to ourselves. We have a Savior who has come to save.
Music by Joseph McDade. https://josephmcdade.com. Used with permission.