“Good Friday Homilies and Service” by Guest Preacher Rev Dr. Gregg Borror
Hymn- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Tears in the Garden- Luke 22:39-46
Narrator- Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them,
Jesus- “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Narrator- He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
Jesus- “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Narrator- An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
Jesus- “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Crystal beads of sweat
It’s the beginning of a flood
Their translucence reveals an anguish
That is growing underneath
Causing them to swell
A great heaviness pulls
There is no resistance
They start a lowly journey
Moved in surrender to greater will
As the purest heart crumbles
One drop follows after another
Forming glistening streaks
Along a spotless brow
The tender heart soon shatters
Under the weight of woe
Drops fall to the ground
Like glistening shards of crystal
Where the beads first surfaced
A single crimson drop forms
It slowly paints a stripe
Down that stainless skin
It rolled along the hairline
Over the cheekbone to the jaw
In a moment of uncertainty
It clung there at the edge
With no alternative to release
The final hold was given up
Like a rose petal it fluttered down
Gently landing in dampened earth
Where sweat and tears first fell
At this silent touch of crimson
Broken crystal drops transformed
Color slowly deepening
Dirt glittering with garnets
Each hearts’ filth was covered
But their purity had this stain
(Sarah Lane Feb 2017)
I. A Time Like No Other
A. It was a “usual” habit for Jesus, He regularly went of by Himself to collect His thoughts, recover from the crowds and commune with the Heavenly Father. The Disciples were used to His need for “alone time” and they gave Him space. They might have sensed that He was quieter, more introspective than usual, but they knew it had been a hard week. When He asked them to pray for Him, that is what they were planning to do, but they dropped off one at a time.
B. This was different, this moment was not like others. Jesus was not just tired of people, He was in deep need of consolation from His Father. No one else would be able to understand the conversation, the tearful flow of pleading words that He spilt out to God. This was not Jesus asking for direction, this was Jesus asking for a complete reversal of what He knew to be God’s will.
C. Meeting the Father to talk Him out of something. In the quiet moments, Jesus approached a familiar place- the feet of God; the Throne Room with which He was completely familiar, but now seemed unwelcoming and strange. He was here to make petition, but not for others this time, He was asking for a personal miracle, and He already knew the answer.
II. A Time Alone
A. This was not a time for the disciples to participate; they would not understand. They would never understand why Jesus had to die, or why God would let Him, maybe even require Him to do so. They would never be comfortable watching Jesus cry and sweat what now looked like blood. They had witnessed many things as they followed Jesus, but this scenario would not fit any of what they thought of Jesus- the Messiah! In fact, they would probably try to dissuade Him as before, entreat Him to leave, quickly before anything bad happened; and it would definitely be a temptation to avoid all that was about to come.
B. A time to suffer alone, for everyone’s sake, even Jesus’ own sake, it was better for Him to be alone. Just He and the Father to hammer this out; either move away from God’s will, or hasten toward it. This was His cross to bear, the disciples would have their own soon enough.
III. A Time to Cry
A. Mingled with the sweat were salty tears, the evidence of a breaking heart. Was it fear, frustration, hurt or betrayal? Probably all three wrapped in heaving sighs of remorse, suffering and giving in. He had not cried much for a “man of sorrows” but this outflow made up for all of those more controlled moments.
B. It all seemed more than any one man could possibly bear: the burden of betrayal, the sting of death, the distance from the Father. He had trusted the Father and the Spirit in everything, but this shook Him to the bone. It was a time to cry.
Tears of Denial- Luke 22:54-62
Narrator- Then seizing Jesus, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him,
Servant Girl- “This man was with him.”
Peter- “Woman, I don’t know him,”
Narrator- A little later someone else saw him
Male Bystander- “You also are one of them.”
Peter- “Man, I am not!”
Narrator- About an hour later another asserted,
Female Bystander- “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter- “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Narrator- Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him:
Jesus- “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”
Narrator- And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The Tears of St. Peter
When noble Peter, who had sworn
that midst a thousand spears and a thousand swords
he would die beside his beloved Lord,
realized that, overcome by cowardice,
his faith had failed him in his great moment of need,
the shame, sorrow and pity
for his own failure and for Christ’s suffering
pierced his breast with a thousand darts.
But the bows which hurled
the sharpest and most deadly arrows
into his breast were the Lord’s eyes, as they looked at him;
It looked as if his Lord, surrounded by many
enemies and abandoned by his peers, wanted to say:
“What I foretold him has now come to pass,
disloyal friend, proud disciple”
“More cruel”, He seemed to say, “are your eyes
than the godless hands that will put me on the cross;
nor have I felt a blow that struck me as hard,
among the many that did strike me,
as the one that came out of your mouth.
I found no one faithful, nor kind,
among the many that I deemed worthy to be called mine:
but you, for whom my love was so intense,
are more deceitful and ungrateful above all the others.
Each of them offended me only by leaving me:
but you denied me”
The words full of anger and love
that Peter seemed to see written
on the serene, holy eyes of Christ,
would shatter whoever who heard them.
Like a snowbank which, having lain frozen
and hidden in the depth of the valley all winter,
and then in springtime, warmed by the sun,
falls apart and melts into streams,
such was the fear which had lain like ice
in Peter’s heart and made him repress the truth;
when Christ turned His eyes on him,
it melted and was changed into tears.
And his crying was not a small spring
or mountain stream, which dries in the warm seasons;
for although the king of Heaven forgave him
immediately for his disgraceful deception,
not a single night in his remaining life passed
without the cock’s crow waking him up
and reminding him how shamefully he behaved,
and inciting new tears for the ancient betrayal.
Realizing that he felt much different
than before, and unable to bear to remain
in the presence of the scorned Lord,
who loved him so, he didn’t wait to see
if the harsh tribunal would hand down
a severe or clement sentence, but,
leaving the despicable place where he was,
bitterly crying, he returned outside.
By denying my Lord, I denied
life itself from which every spirit springs:
a tranquil life that neither fears nor desires,
whose course flows on without end:
because then I denied the one true life,
there is no reason, none at all, to continue this false life.
Go then, vain life, quickly leave me:
since I denied true life, I do not want its shadow.”
Luigi Tansillo 1560
A. He had felt so brave in the safety of the closed room with Jesus, when he said he would rather die than ever deny Jesus. And he believed it; Peter had never felt so courageous as in that moment. But that seemed like a million years ago now, like a whole different reality. If he had known then what he knew now, he never would have made such a promise.
B. “I would die for you!” Was it arrogance? Certainty? Confidence? Stupidity? Why did he always say such impetuous things? Why was he always first? It seemed that in every situation like this, one of the other 11 would say what Peter wished he had waited to say, or even hear before he blurted out his claim. Now sitting outside the light of the fire, he was crying for his false sense of himself. He wished once again that he had thought first before he denied knowing Jesus. Maybe he should go back in and admit everything.
C. But something inside of him had changed- it was all so real now- FEAR. He was afraid down to the last ounce of his being. He’d been nervous before, maybe a little anxious on stormy seas, but never paralyzed by this feeling. He had no clue what to do with it, maybe go do what Judas did; just to stop the horrible terror of what is happening right now, and what will happen to him when he has to face God and say that he denied His Son.
A. He did have faith! He had proven it when he got out of the boat and walked on the sea. No one else would have even dared to try, but there he was stepping on waves. He knew the deep certainty of faith for one brief moment, then the loss of trust and the sinking feeling of knowing Jesus was watching him go down. “Why did you doubt?” what a simple and complicated question. Why indeed? Not because of Jesus, not because of water, but because of what was inside of Peter.
B. He had felt it when he asked Jesus about forgiveness, “how many times, Jesus, seven?” “No, Jesus answered, 70 times 70.” How could God require that much trust? There was no way someone could be forgiven that many times, it is too much to ask. Could anyone trust God enough to forgive another that many times or that deeply?
C. How deep? When someone denies knowing his best friend, that is how deep forgiveness must go. “He went outside and wept bitterly.” The deep tears of shallow faith; the depth of sorrow that comes from feeling you are unforgivable. He had trusted Jesus and Jesus had trusted him with everything, every big moment of Jesus’ life since they had been traveling together. Now Peter had denied it all- “I don’t this man!”
B. Now he was sobbing uncontrollably; a grown man crying his eyes out. A big strong fisherman who had dealt with a life of disappointment is reduced to a puddle. It wasn’t embarrassment he felt, it wasn’t just knowing people were watching him, it was shame and it was destroying him from the inside out.
D. Maybe Jesus could forgive him, but he would never be able to forgive himself. Even if Jesus somehow survived this horrible night and saw the light of tomorrow, Peter would never let himself be seen, not in broad daylight. How could he ever even face Jesus again? He felt he would never see Him, but if he did, now or in His eternal Kingdom, how could he look in those penetrating eyes?
Hymn- Alas and Did My Savior Die?
Tears on the Road- Luke 23:26-31
Narrator- As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.
Jesus- “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
The Journey to Golgotha
Children are frightening,
Complex beyond all adult illusions,
Paradoxical in their calculated innocence!
Beware of them,
And so a king in a very old tale
Killed every child to kill one child-
But one child lived yet,
The child that was himself
Hidden in the folds of an ugly aging flesh!
Oh, King, of those wild wastes, our hearts,
you moved once in the Biblical bazaars,
Among fishermen and farmers,
Lepers and prostitutes,
And your breath was a miracle!
Innocence suffers in the end always,
For it is always misunderstood-
So you, your jasmine face under a crown of laughing thorns.
Lean king of visionary kingdoms,
You carried a cross to the castle of skull, Golgotha!
Deeper the friendship, nobler the betrayal,
And in any case, the thirty silvers settled it-
But was the betrayal really so clever?
What of those other betrayals,
Judge betraying justice,
A father betraying his son,
And the flesh betraying the spirit?
K. Raghavendra Roa
I. A Cross to Bear
A. Jesus was already sad, He had cried over Jerusalem a few days earlier, the City of God was His cross to bear and it was heavy. As He passed the crying women, His heart was broken again, as they cried for Him He was crying for them. Their beloved city, the City of God would pay the price for not being able to see the time of God’s coming to them.
B. It seemed to Jesus these people, His people, would never get it. They hadn’t for all of Israel’s history, having ignored and even killed God’s prophets. Living back and forth through years of rebellion followed by years of exile, the surviving generation, alive when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, faced a false tribunal and now carried the cross through the city streets were no better at recognizing God at work.
C. This is His cross to bear- His people, and their inability to see Him. Though all the miracles, His authority in teaching, the love and compassion He showed daily were all ample proof of who He was, but they would not see it. Now they would pay the price.
II. A Curse, Beware
A. They are crying for a sorrow they could barely comprehend. The women were sad to see Jesus suffer; who wouldn’t cry at the sight? Watching Him stumble under the weight of the cross was torture for every mother who ever had a son. The women who were close friends to Mary were the most desperate; their sadness went beyond Jesus’ suffering and encompassed the sorrow only a mother could know. But there was much more suffering to come.
B. Jesus says- “It will get worse- save your tears.” In the end the lucky women will be the ones who were never mothers. Considered cursed in the eyes of God’s people; the tables will turn and then the childless will be called blessed. In that day when children are being mercilessly killed by the enemies of God’s people, there won’t be enough tears.
C. But how could anything be worse than this? The Road of Suffering was covered with tears over the years of villains, criminals and reprobates of all kinds carrying their crosses up the hill to Golgotha. This was a familiar scene, made worse on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion because He really was innocent. Jesus’ prediction was that he would be one of the first innocents to die horribly, but not the last, not by a long shot!
III. “Fall On Us”
A. When the disaster Jesus was predicting comes, it will feel like the world is caving in, but it won’t be, it won’t feel like it could end, even though it will be the real end. Jesus says the women will cry for the walls to fall in on them and stop the massacre; it would feel like God’s own mercy falling on them- on That day.
B. If people will act like this when God’s only Son is here, how will they act in that day? This really seems like people at their worst, but there is worse to come. Worse for Jesus as he finally gets to the place of the skull, worse for these dear women whose hearts pour out to Jesus and worse for the Jews who would finally be demolished with their city.
C. This night would be one of the worst in history; the night that humanity killed God’s own Son. But Jesus is predicting more horrible days, days when everyone would feel the betrayal, pain, fear and destruction Jesus felt in His heart.
The Cry of Death- Luke 23:44-46
Narrator- It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus cried out with a loud voice,
Jesus- “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Narrator- When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
I. The Darkest Day
A. At noon, the sun was covered, the sky filled with dark clouds
But the oppression was not just overhead- it was inside of each person gathered there. It was the darkest day in every heart, like a bad dream, like the ninth plague- a darkness you could feel.
B. We all know darkness; we have those places in our hearts and lives that we keep hidden and think no one knows about, but this darkness was worse, it started on the outside and went all the way through to the darkest corner of the darkest heart.
C. The Light of the World was going out and the darkness that would be left was overwhelming. It seemed like there would never be light again; like the very sun had given up and refused to show the horror of what was happening.
II. Into the Father’s Hands
A. Can you trust these hands? Like a young dad at the poolside saying- “Jump! I’ll catch you” Jesus had known what it meant to be betrayed- Peter, Judas, the Pharisees and Scribes, but this final moment when His Father turned away had to challenge the very deepest faith Jesus could ever muster. His last “statement of faith” was a desperate cry- “catch me Father, I’m falling!”
B. The hands that cradled Jesus in the stable, guided him into the wilderness, the hands that blessed- “This is my beloved Son” are now the hands that bleed in sympathy. Jesus’ hands, are the Father’s hands; another mystery of the triune God. As Jesus releases His Spirit, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit- He releases it into the Hands of God.
III. Tears in the Last Breath
A. One last breath, should he save it or let it out loud. Every breath had been a struggle and now Jesus could feel His strength at and end; this would be the last, he had no more will, energy or patience; should He just sigh, or cry out His faith in the Father?
B. “Into you hands I commit my Spirit!” a loud cry- no whimpering, no sobbing, more like yelling. He had cried privately for Lazarus, angrily as He cleared the temple, alone in the garden, but now everyone would hear His cry, the last cry.
C. Pain, loneliness, betrayal, sadness, anxiety, maybe even anger- it is all one cry. All the emotions of the life of the Suffering Servant, the Man of Sorrows would all come out in one last heave. The emotion, the frustration mixed with the divine confidence that He was accomplishing the salvation of all humanity culminated in this one last burst. “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit!”
Hymn- O Sacred Head now Wounded
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Narrator- Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
All- “You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
Narrator- Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
All- “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Narrator- Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
All- “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
Narrator- The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.