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Good Friday

March 21, 2008

Tonight we are having a Good Friday service with another church in town.  There will be four meditations on the cross, one from each of the four gospels.  I’m doing Matthew 27:37.  Rather than post that here prematurely, here’s what I said at the 2000 Good Friday Tenebrae service.  Eight years ago already, wow.

“They will look on Him”  That’s what we are purposefully doing tonight.  Let us look on Him.  God says in Isaiah “Look to Me and be saved”  That’s all it takes, a true believing look to Him.  Look on Him, turn your face toward Him.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

John puts extraordinary emphasis on the fact that both blood and water flowed from the pierced side of Jesus.   We understand the significance of the blood. We speak of being washed in the blood and we rightly mean forgiveness.  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, writes John elsewhere.

We may not be as aware of the great significance of the water in the writings of John.  Water is a symbol, especially in John, for the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus tells us in John 7 that if anyone believes in Him streams of living water will flow from within him, John explains to us in verse 39 that by this he meant the Holy Spirit.

So I believe the hymn “Rock of Ages” gets it exactly right “Let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure.  Cleanse me from its guilt and power. The blood cleanses us from the guilt of sin.  The water of the Holy Spirit cleanses us from the power of sin. 

But the important thing to see in John 19 is that both the blood and the water come out of the side of the crucified Jesus. As you kneel in faith at the foot of the cross, the blood of Jesus pours down upon you, but also the water of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon you.  Where do you go for the forgiveness of your sins? The foot of the cross.  And where do you go for the fullness of the Spirit?  The foot of the cross.  Where do you go for power to resist temptation and to overcome sin?The foot of the cross. The Holy Spirit is poured out at the foot of the cross.  If you are going to walk by the Spirit, you can’t let yourself get far away from the cross.

But the blood and the water also remind us of the horrible violence of the death He died.  The fact that these Scriptures are fulfilled assures us that even in death, He reigns.  But because of the great depth of our sin, overcome only by the depth of his love, he chose to bow his meek head to mortal pain before taking up his power to reign.  He submitted to death and gave darkness an hour.  Jesus said “This is your hour—when darkness reigns”

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