MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? WHY ARE YOU SO FAR FROM SAVING ME, SO FAR FROM THE WORDS OF MY GROANING? A BAND OF EVIL MEN HAS ENCIRCLED ME, THEY HAVE PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET. I CAN COUNT ALL MY BONES; PEOPLE STARE AND GLOAT OVER ME. THEY DIVIDE MY GARMENTS AMONG THEM AND CAST LOTS FOR MY CLOTHING. (Psalm 22: 1, 16-18)
WELCOME TO OUR GOOD FRIDAY WEB-WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH-254) – WHEN I SURVEY the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See! from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
LET US PRAY:
GRACIOUS LORD GOD, we come before You today to thank You for Your most precious gift of all – the great love You have shown to us in Christ. In Him You came and lived amongst us, fully part of our world. Through Him You revealed Your grace, Your mercy, Your will, Your kingdom. By Him You identified Yourself with our sinful and suffering world, opening the way through His death and resurrection to forgiveness and eternal life. You have given to us without counting the cost, not just a little but everything. You emptied Yourself, taking the form of a servant, sacrificing Your only Son for our sakes. Gracious Lord God teach us to offer You in return not only our love but our entire life through faith in Christ Jesus, and this worship, to the glory of Your name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, One, Eternal God. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: ISAIAH 53.
WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR MESSAGE AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED? HE GREW UP BEFORE HIM LIKE A TENDER SHOOT, AND LIKE A ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND. HE HAD NO BEAUTY OR MAJESTY TO ATTRACT US TO HIM, NOTHING IN HIS APPEARANCE THAT WE SHOULD DESIRE HIM. HE WAS DESPISED AND REJECTED BY MEN, A MAN OF SORROWS, AND FAMILIAR WITH SUFFERING. LIKE ONE FROM WHOM MEN HIDE THEIR FACES HE WAS DESPISED, AND WE ESTEEMED HIM NOT. SURELY HE TOOK UP OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED OUR SORROWS, YET WE CONSIDERED HIM STRICKEN BY GOD, SMITTEN BY HIM, AND AFFLICTED. BUT HE WAS PIERCED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, HE WAS CRUSHED FOR OUR INIQUITIES; THE PUNISHMENT THAT BROUGHT US PEACE WAS UPON HIM, AND BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED. WE ALL, LIKE SHEEP, HAVE GONE ASTRAY, EACH OF US HAS TURNED TO HIS OWN WAY; AND THE LORD HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL. HE WAS OPPRESSED AND AFFLICTED, YET HE DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH; HE WAS LED LIKE A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, AND AS A SHEEP BEFORE HER SHEARERS IS SILENT, SO HE DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. BY OPPRESSION AND JUDGMENT HE WAS TAKEN AWAY. AND WHO CAN SPEAK OF HIS DESCENDANTS? FOR HE WAS CUT OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING; FOR THE TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE HE WAS STRICKEN. HE WAS ASSIGNED A GRAVE WITH THE WICKED, AND WITH THE RICH IN HIS DEATH, THOUGH HE HAD DONE NO VIOLENCE, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT IN HIS MOUTH. YET IT WAS THE LORD’S WILL TO CRUSH HIM AND CAUSE HIM TO SUFFER, AND THOUGH THE LORD MAKES HIS LIFE A GUILT OFFERING, HE WILL SEE HIS OFFSPRING AND PROLONG HIS DAYS, AND THE WILL OF THE LORD WILL PROSPER IN HIS HAND. AFTER THE SUFFERING OF HIS SOUL, HE WILL SEE THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND BE SATISFIED; BY HIS KNOWLEDGE MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT WILL JUSTIFY MANY, AND HE WILL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. THEREFORE I WILL GIVE HIM A PORTION AMONG THE GREAT, AND HE WILL DIVIDE THE SPOILS WITH THE STRONG, BECAUSE HE POURED OUT HIS LIFE UNTO DEATH, AND WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS. FOR HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY, AND MADE INTERCESSION FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – EPHESIANS 2: 8.
IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, THROUGH FAITH – AND THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD
By every worldly standard, a hero is viewed as a powerful, invincible conqueror. It is expected that he will kill the enemy, destroy evil, and happily enjoy life. God, however, does things in His own way. Man, whom He created, failed to walk by faith and obey God, resulting in spiritual death and exile. Man being hopeless to correct this situation on his own, due to the sinful nature of his heart, God decided to send him a Saviour. Through prophet Isaiah God announced, that the promised Saviour will suffer and die, not for His own sin but for those of the people. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ, (Saviour Anointed, in Greek) obediently came to fulfil God’s saving promise. Our Good Friday text through Isaiah Ch. 53 brings us into a full and glorious view of the MESSIAH (Anointed, in Hebrew), foretold by the prophet more than 700 years before Christ. It is impossible to read this text, and not see Jesus Christ as our unique, godly way of salvation in it.
THE PROMISED SAVIOUR AS SUFFERING SERVANT. (Verses 1-3).
The Revealed Arm of the Lord in the first verse indicates that all that is going to happen is based on THE POWER OF GOD. The Promised Saviour would grow up as a tender shoot (from the Stump of Jesse – Isaiah 11: 1), and His outward appearance would not be admirable, because God is concerned only of the inward status of the heart. If the promised Saviour came as a mighty man of war, people would be inclined to follow Him. But the House of David had fallen, and the royal line declined. When our Lord came, He was indeed a root out of dry ground. These words refer rather to Jesus’ appearance as he hung upon the Cross. He was a pitiful figure, hanging naked, blood covering His face, worn and shattered by suffering. Indeed, He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. SUFFERING would be the experience of God’s promised Messiah, being despised and rejected by men. A Man of Sorrows because there is no record in the Bible
that Jesus ever laughed. His brothers misunderstood Him and did not believe in Him. He was called a drunkard and a glutton, and was said to be possessed by evil. He had no home to go to. He became at one point “Public enemy no. 1.” In the weeks before His crucifixion the Pharisees offered a reward to anyone who would turn Him in. Surely, He was rejected by men. Sin always brings suffering and shame. When the Suffering Servant came, he would experience the suffering and shame that was part of sin’s penalty, though the sin for which He suffered was not His own. He would willingly endure this, not because He deserved it, but because it was required for Him to walk in complete obedience to His father’s will. We should never forget that it was Christ’s willingness to face undeserved suffering – as the Scapegoat of the Old Testament, who would carry away on itself the sins to a solitary place…(Leviticus 16: 20-22) – on our behalf.
THE PROMISED SAVIOUR AS “SUBSTITUTE”. (Verses 4-12).
We are here at the very heart of the Scriptures, THE GOOD NEWS. He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed(1 Peter 2: 24). Jesus took our sins and paid the price for them. There is no way to read this and fail to see that our Lord is the great divine Substitute for the evil of the human heart: – We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all(v. 6). Through the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, God provided a picture of the necessity of a Sin-payment, a substitute to take God’s punishment for sin. The promised Saviour would be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world(John 1: 29). Sin is a disease that has afflicted our entire human race; the Suffering Servant of the Lord would carry the sorrows and griefs of those who would deserve the punishment of sin, in the judgement of God: DEATH. It was Jesus’ obedience to the will of God, all the way to the Cross, that provided the payment for our sin that God’s justice demanded. The promised Saviour would receive the piercing, crushing, and punishment that we deserved. The Sinless Servant would take upon himself the iniquity of us all. As a result, those to whom His Blood is applied receive His healing and peace. What rightly belonged to man – sin, suffering, death – was placed upon Him. What rightly belonged to Him – righteousness and life – was given to man, through repentance and FAITH IN HIM. Verses 10 and 11 describe Resurrection, and the satisfaction that the Messiah feels when He sees what His sufferings have accomplished: – the Lord makes His life a guilt-offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand … he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Justification by faith and Resurrection are clearly defined here. The closing sentence of the chapter takes us to the Cross of Good Friday, – He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors(verse 12), as the criminal crucified beside Jesus asked Him, – remember me when You come into Your kingdom, and Jesus answered him, – I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise(Luke 23: 42-43).
Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, was the fulfilment of God’s promise to send a Saviour. He was the Suffering Servant and our Substitute. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as proclaimed by John the Baptist. He suffered in our place. He died for our sin. He took the punishment we deserved. He did all this to fully obey the will and plan of God the Father, walking in perfect obedience and surrender to Him. Because of His perfect obedience, even to death on the Cross, we can be counted free. Not only did He die on the Cross, but He also rose from the dead three days later, and IN HIM, WE HAVE LIFE FOREVERMORE. AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
LORD, OUR SAVIOUR, on this day we marvel again at the extend of Your love, and especially the pain You were ready to face so that we might receive life in all its fullness; a pain that goes far beyond anything we can ever imagine or understand. Gracious, Saviour Lord, for all You willingly endured, we thank You. Open our eyes to the wonder of this day and help us to respond in the only way we can – with heartfelt gratitude, with joyful praise, and with faithful service, offered in Your name and for Your glory. Saviour Lord, broken on the Cross, tortured there in body, mind and soul, You know what it means to suffer. So now we pray for the broken people of our world, for all those who have experienced something of Your pain. We pray for the broken in body – for all those who in any ways are affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic. We remember all those who are injured in accidents, those maimed in wars and terrorist attacks, those disabled by disease, and all those who mourn loved ones. Comfort, heal and support them in Your love. We pray for the broken in mind – those tormented by fears, those wrestling with depression, those who have suffered a mental breakdown. We pray for the broken in spirit – those whose dreams have been destroyed, those whose love has been betrayed, those whose faith has been crushed. Reach out in love and make them whole. We bring before You, Lord, the Christian Church Universal in all its branches, all Your children who in these hard days are turning to You in their prayers and petitions. Hear and answer us through our Saviour. Bless our Church of Scotland in all its presbyteries and congregations, and all our sisters and brothers in our church, in our village, and on this Island: give us all a blessed Easter through our Risen Lord and Saviour. We pray for our loved ones wherever they are, and hear us Lord, as we name quietly in our hearts all those whom we believe need our prayers … Lord, You came to make us whole, to mend broken hearts and lives; to restore broken people. Reach out in love, save us, and bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, One, Eternal God. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-253) – O SACRED HEAD, sore wounded, with grief and shame weighed down! O Kingly Head, surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown! How pale art Thou with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!
O Lord of life and glory, what bliss till now was Thine! I read the wondrous story; I joy to call Thee mine. Thy grief and bitter passion were all for sinners’ gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
What language shall I borrow to praise Thee, heavenly Friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine for ever, and, should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.
Be near me, Lord, when dying; O show Thy cross to me; and for my succour flying, come, Lord, to set me free; these eyes, new faith receiving, from Thee shall never move; for he who dies believing dies safely through Thy love.
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. (2 Corinthians 13: 14)