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  • Good Friday

    Posted on March 22nd, 2008 admin No comments

    Daniel’s childhood story is one to remember. You can participate in Daniel’s story by visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. As you walk through this first floor exhibit you will be flanked by scores of elementary and middle school children. Together, you become friends with Daniel. You meet his father, his mother and his sister Erika. You visit Daniel’s house in Germany. You walk through the kitchen, see the brown cookies with “Erika” written on them in pink icing. You see the storage bin labeled “Daniel’s stuff.” You see Daniel’s little jackets hanging in the closet. You see the medal Daniel’s father earned for bravery in the first World War that he gave to Daniel.

    You walk with Daniel as his life changes at age 11. You hear the radio announcement from Munich Germany, Sep 29, 1938,  “Attention, Attention.” You learn that the Jew-hating Nazi’s have taken control of Germany. The Nazis burn down the synagogue. They make the Daniel wear a yellow star with the word “Jew” printed on it in big black letters.

    You watch as Daniel’s family is led far away from their home to a ghetto. The ghetto is much different than Daniel’s home; it is crowded and dirty. There are rules about everything. There isn’t much food. You feel the hunger in Daniel’s stomach. You struggle to imagine how he lived with his whole family in that one small room. Then it gets worse. Daniel and his family are loaded into a rail car and taken to a concentration camp. They get off the train. They are pushed into lines. They are stripped of their bags. Daniel’s diary and his family photos are ripped from his arms. His father’s medal is stripped from his tightly clinched hand. His mom and Erika are culled out of the crowd like inferior cattle. Daniel learns that they, like many others, were killed.

    At the end of the museum exhibit there is blank paper, crayons and a cork board where kids post their thoughts.

    One child wrote, “Never again. I was so sad. Horrible. Never again. Not understandable. Terrible.”

    Lauren, of NJ, wrote, “Dear Daniel, I feel so bad for you and your family. It is so unfair. Everybody should be treated equally.”

    Another child, “I could have never done what Daniel did. He is very very brave.”

    Another child wrote, “I feel sad. I think it was very unfair for innocent people to die in such cruel and unfair ways.”

    One kid drew the outline of a face and a nose in yellow. He added black hair, a black shirt and he drew big blue eyes with big blue tears streaming off the paper.

    Daniel survived the holocaust, but many Jews did not. Daniel’s mom? Little Erika? Gone forever. Daniel’s young, confused words, on the other hand, echo into eternity come, “Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do?” “Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do?” These words written by a little Jewish boy profoundly beg us turn our eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ. We know Christ was punished for something he did not do. Two thousand years ago the world stood by watching as Jesus Christ suffered to death on a cross for sin he did not commit. Even the criminal crucified beside him said, “this man has done nothing wrong.” He was innocent. He was perfect. He was holy. He was without blemish. Yet he bore the wrath of God in our place.

    Tonight the death of Christ is central to our worship of God! Without his death there is no forgiveness. Without his death there is no life. Without his death there is no future. Our access to God the Father in heaven is made possible only through the death of God the Son on earth.

    Tonight we want to answer one question: How do you respond to the death of Christ? I mean you can cognitively believe Christ died. You can view the death of Christ solely as a historical fact. You can admire pictures of the serene rocky terrain where some say Christ was crucified. You can visit an ancient church in Jerusalem and walk up the narrow steep steps hewn from stone and touch the hole that may have held the cross in position. You can admire beautiful paintings that evoke an emotional tingle up your spine. But, there must be more. You need something with weight; something with staying power. You need something that is going to prepare you for Sunday morning when you celebrate the resurrection of Christ. How do you respond tonight, on good Friday, to the death of Christ?

    In the Bible, the prophet Zechariah writes to Jews who have returned home from Babylonian captivity. These Jews need encouragement. They need hope because, from their perspective, the future is uncertain. Their dedication to the Lord doesn’t seem to make any difference in the present and it doesn’t seem to offer much hope for the future. Zechariah delivers this encouraging message, “The Lord remembers. Have hope! There is a day coming in the future when the Messiah will come and establish his kingdom on earth.”

    In Zechariah 12:10, the Lord speaks:

    10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

    11 “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
    12 “The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves;
    13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves;
    14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.

    Tonight we are going to answer the question, how do you repond to the death of Christ, by comparing what the Lord says he will do for the people of Israel with what we know he has done for us.

    First, the Lord will save his people. We are talking about a radical spiritual deliverance that will come one day in the future. On this day the Lord’s people will repent. They will fall on their faces and recognize Jesus Christ as their savior. Just as the Lord has saved his people from physical destruction many times in the past, he will soon save them from spiritual destruction in the future.

    In Zechariah 12:1, we see that this message of the Lord concerns Israel. Earlier in the book “Israel” refered to the northern kingdom, but here Zechariah broadens the scope of the term to all Jewish people. This passage applies directly to Jews. There has yet to be this massive spiritual awakening among Jewish people where they understand their place alongside you and me in nailing Christ on the cross.

    Some people don’t understand that their sin nailed Christ on the cross. The Lord must convince you that the sin you inherited at the time of your conception pierced the son of God. That is, the sin nature you inherited, not the sins you commit on a daily basis, but your sin nature, which separated you from God, had to be redeemed. Christ paid the price for your transgression against God and set you free God’s eternal wrath. The truth that your inherited sin nailed Christ on the cross is not something the brightest of bright can understand apart from the Spirit of God enabling them to understand it. One day the Lord will save his people by enabling them to see their personal connection to the cross of Christ.

    How can we be so confident of this future, massive spiritual awakening? Zechariah tells us about this coming day in his prophecy. In verse 10 we see that the Lord “will pour out” something on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Lord will pour out something on his people, the Jews. That something, verse 10, is the Spirit of grace and of supplication. Two words: 1) grace or favor, that is “acts which display one’s fondness or compassion for another”[2] and 2) supplication or a plea for mercy, a request for kindness. The Lord himself will pour this spirit of grace and supplication on his people. Some writers suggest Zechariah is referring to a new heart attitude.[3] Others see it as a direct reference to the Holy Spirit.[4] I see it as both. There will be a time in the future when the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit on his people such that their hearts are radically changed and they beg for mercy. Their spirituality moves from rules and regulations; no more “do this” and “don’t do that;” to the profession that Christ is Lord.

    Why would the Lord desire to pour out his Spirit of grace and supplication? What’s the point? Verse 10, “so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced.” This is big. The Lord is enabling his people to see with spiritual eyes. This nation has been spiritually blind for thousands of years, but one day they will see. They will understand that the one they nailed to a cross was the Messiah. The reference “look on” could possibly refer to physical sight where God’s people will see Christ physically at his second coming. As he descends from heaven they will recognize the scars in his hands, the hole in his side. Spiritual scales will shed from their eyes. They will profess, “Surely, he is the son of God.” They will turn to him as their Messiah. And they will mourn for him. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son. They will weep bitterly. The sounds of planes, trains and automobiles will be drowned out by the bitter weeping of God’s people.

    Verse 10 is a picture of repentance: “O my God, my sin nailed you to the cross. My sin sent you to the grave. I turn from my spiritual blindness and gaze upon your scars.”

    Some people don’t understand that what they need more than anything else is a change of heart. The Lord gives you this new heart when you believe in Jesus Christ. With this new heart God gives you spiritual sight. He convinces you that salvation comes only by faith in Jesus Christ; you can’t earn it. You must allow the Spirit of grace and supplication to change your heart such that you beg for mercy by believing in Jesus Christ.

    In verse 11 Zechariah says there will be great mourning, a great wailing, a great howling in Jerusalem. This comparison to the mourning of Hadadrimmon could refer to a place near Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley of northern Israel. There King Josiah was hit by an archer’s arrow and died prematurely. 2 Chron 35:24 reads, “All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” The Jews would have remembered the broad and intense mourning that accompanyied the historical account of King Josiah’s death. Here Zechariah says the mourning that will accompany this radical spiritual deliverance of Jewish people will be just as intense.

    Take the assasination of John F. Kennedy, the Challenger explosion, Columbine, 9/11, they were all newsworthy events that drew tears, but they were nothing like the national mourning that will one day be heard among the house of Israel.

    In verses 12 through 14, repetition draws our attention to the phrases “every family by itself” and “their wives by themselves.” The idea here is that while every Jew will mourn, this isn’t a big public display performed for media attention. No, this is genuine repentance. People encounter the living God whom they spiritually pierced by their transgressions. As God’s holiness confronts the reality of their sin, the only thing they can do is scatter to their hiding places like sheep before ravenous wolves. There in isolation before God they weep. Even the politcal and religious powers that be mourn. Political powers are represented in verse 12 by the house of David and the house of Nathan. Religious powers are represented  in verse 13 by the house of Levi and the family of Shimei. Notice in verse 14 that all familes – from the top to bottom – mourn. At the top, these political and religious familes were right in the midst of Christ’s death. They weren’t watching from a distance. They were yelling, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” When the Lord brings about this future spiritual deliverance, the very leaders who could have intervened will recognize their responsibility for the savior’s death. They will run from their places of public service, huddle with their families and mourn his death.

    The wives will mourn by themselves. Even the closest relationship known among human beings – marriage, where God makes two become one – that relationship will mean nothing when the holiness of God confronts the reality of sin. “I can’t bear my sin anymore. I must mourn the death of my savior who bore it for me. I wounded him. I bruised him. I pierced him.”

    This radical spiritual deliverance among Jews worldwide has not yet happened. Sure, some Jews are coming to faith in Christ, and for that we rejoice, but the fireworks show has yet to begin. One day the Lord will pour out his Spirit on his people and they will recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

    Maybe the Spirit of God is at work in your life right now. He is convicting you of the truth that your sin pierced Christ and nailed him to the cross. He is convicting you of the need to believe in Jesus Christ. This leads us to our second point…

    The Lord saves his people through faith in Christ. More specifically, faith in the fact that Christ died in your place. You’ve seen that your sin nailed him to the cross. Now know that he died in your place. By believing Christ died in your place, you are saved from the eternal wrath of God.

    Theologians call this truth of Christ dying in your place “substitutionary atonement.” Substitutionary atonement is part of Christianity 1010; don’t deny it. The apostle Paul wrote, 2 Cor 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

    The author of Hebrews tells us, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). So there comes a better sacrifice, one who was perfect, and he, Christ, offered himself once to bear the sins of many. The holy God of the universe demanded a holy sacrifice and that holy sacrifice was the wholy none other than the holy Jesus Christ himself.

    The Dallas Seminary doctrinal statement says it well: “We believe… that our redemption has been accomplished solely by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made to be sin and was made a curse for us, dying in our room and stead; and that no repentance, no feeling, no faith, no good resolutions, no sincere efforts, no submission to the rules and regulations of any church, nor all the churches that have existed since the days of the Apostles can add in the very least degree to the value of the blood, or to the merit of the finished work wrought for us by Him who united in His person true and proper deity with perfect and sinless humanity.”

    John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    You can’t do anything to earn your righteous standing before God. When the final hour comes, you will not plead your own case. You will only look to the cross of Christ and praise God for his magnificent grace.

    The Lord saves his people through faith in Christ who died in your place.

    How do you respond to the death of Christ? Mourn the death of Christ. Personalize the historical story that you have read or heard. Realize that your sin was placed on bloody back of an innocent Jewish man. Your sin nailed the son of God to the cross. Your sin killed Jesus Christ.

    Tonight we remember his death by celebrating the Lord’s Table. As you worship God, mourn the death of Christ. Let the tears flow.




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