Good Friday – The Prosperity Cross

Pastor Dan Borgelt

Audio: [18:33]

Transcription:
“As we continue through the Gospel of Luke in the twenty third chapter, Luke writes of these events happened in the life of Jesus. Starting now, in verse twenty six the Scripture tells us this,

The Crucifixion of Jesus

26-43 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 turned and said to them, “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!’ 30 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?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Church, this evening, this Good Friday in which we recall Christ’s death on the Cross for our sins… I want to begin by asking you a question.  And that is,

Are you prepared to experience suffering, and not have your faith shaken? 

Are you prepared to experience suffering, and not have your faith shaken?

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There’s this Facebook thing going around the last couple of days where these two guys come in contact with each other and the one gentleman says,
“I hate the fact that they call it ‘Good’ Friday”

And the other one asks, “Well, why is that?”

And to which he replied “Well because this is the day which my Lord and Savior was Crucified.”

So the other one says, “Well, let me let me ask you.., if you were about to be crucified, and Jesus came along and took your place, how would you feel?

To which the other gentleman said, “Well… Good!”

He said, “Well, have a nice day then.”

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This is indeed Good Friday. It’s the day in which we recognize that Jesus bore upon the Cross the wrath of God for the sins that WE have committed. It’s the day in which we recognize that Christ has suffered in our place. 

But I have a concern this evening… I’m concerned that because we recognize that Christ has suffered in our place, we call it “Good Friday”, but I’m concerned that there are many Christians out there who misunderstand the scope of what we mean by “GOOD FRIDAY”.

By that I mean I think there are many Christians out there who think that because Christ suffered in our place on the Cross.. that what that means is that Christ doesn’t want us to suffer at all. 

And this mindset has produced all kinds of different forms of bad theology out there.  You’ve heard perhaps of the term, “The Prosperity Gospel”… I’ve entitled my message, “THE PROSPERITY CROSS”.

The Prosperity Cross is the idea that if we will somehow just be good enough and faithful enough to God, He will reward our religious behavior towards him by being faithful to us and making sure that we don’t experience any suffering, and give us all the blessings, all the good things that we want in life. 

And there are other people who come along and they might be acute enough to shake off this whole idea of The Prosperity Cross, but they embrace other types of prosperity messages as well. 

Here in America we are infatuated with the idea that Jesus might come back some day, and rapture us away just before… when? … Tribulation takes place.  We love that idea.  We love the concept behind it.  And I think that some of this has to come from this idea that Christ has suffered in our place and we think that perhaps that means He doesn’t want us to suffer at all.  

Others of us, would rule out any form of Prosperity Gospel, or the Prosperity Cross —  we would rule that out in theology.  But when suffering hits in our life, our faith is shaken, we reveal then, that we are indeed having a relationship with God, under the understanding that he will be a God who giveth whenever we ask him to giveth; and never taketh away at all. 

But that is not the claim of Good Friday. 

There’s so much irony in the idea that we would think of Good Friday, a day in which Christ suffered immensely, and somehow draw from that the idea that we won’t experience suffering in our lives in any way — that that won’t happen to us.  I mean, let me ask you Church, if God, the Father is willing to allow His One and Only Begotten Son, Jesus to suffer, will he not allow us to suffer as well?

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He loves us unconditionally… more than we can possibly imagine, but does he love us more than Jesus? …that we should somehow conclude that he was willing to allow him to suffer, but not us?

THE FATHER, through Christ’s suffering, accomplishes his purpose to rescue us.  He accomplishes his purpose through Jesus’ suffering.  Should we then come along and rule out the idea that this might be the case for us as well — that our Father in heaven might want to accomplish His purposes either for our lives, or for the lives of those around us, by allowing us to experience suffering?

Maybe you’re here this evening and this Good Friday finds you in circumstances that are anything but good.  Does that mean that God has forsaken you?  Does that mean that God has failed on his promise?  Or does the Scripture not teach us otherwise?

Jesus said in John Chapter fifteen as we’ll pull up on the screen.  Jesus spoke these words.  He said this he said.

The World Hates the Disciples

18-21 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one_who_sent_me.

So here in this passage, one of Jesus’ many examples where he reminds us that, not only will we experience suffering in this life, but he connects his suffering to our suffering… meaning the more faithful we are in our relationship with him, the more closely we walk with him, we might expect then to suffer to a greater extent.

Paul comes along and says this, in Second Corinthians Chapter one vs three through five about this whole topic he says these words,

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

Now the fact that God is a God of compassion and a God of comfort, implies there are people who need to have compassion and comfort.

who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

You see Paul comes along and he connects our suffering to the suffering of Christ. He says one of the reasons why Christ might allow us to suffer, is that he might allow us to find comfort in our God when we suffer.  And therefore we are able to bring to the world around us, which is hurting and suffering, that same comfort which we have found ourselves.

He goes on to say in Second Corinthians Chapter four, in verses sixteen through eighteen these couple of verses he writes.

16=18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The Scripture, over, and over, and over again, is emphatic about the idea that we will suffer as followers of Christ.

There are all kinds of different ways that we suffer.  And tonight we can recall on this Good Friday, that because of this day in the life of Jesus, He is able to relate to us.  He is able to sympathize with whatever it is that you might be going through this evening.

Is it physical suffering?  Are you here tonight in pain and hurting? Is it physical suffering because of what a doctor has recently told you about your health?  Of course this is the most obvious way in which we recognize this day that Christ can relate to us… where we are reminded that three nails were driven through his body… hung upon a cross, forced to choose between the agony of pain upon his arms or his feet… while his lungs filled up with fluid, unable to breathe, eventually forced to choose between breathing or suffocating… or experiencing the pain of having his weight lifted up upon the nails of the cross.  He knew_physical_suffering.

Maybe you’re here tonight, and that’s not the type of suffering you’re experiencing. Maybe you’re experiencing relational suffering with other people.  This has been a year where you’ve come into discord, or have been left by a loved one…. someone who you care about, and with whom you are no longer relationally doing well.  And that’s weighing on you.   You bring that this evening.

We’re to recall that Christ experienced that as well on this Good Friday. For as he hung upon the Cross…  there he was, mocked and ridiculed by people all around him… hanging naked in front of society, to laugh at him, to tease him… where his friends could not be found because they were afraid to stand by his side.

Knowing that he is looking upon those whom He does love, who were there… well, from our perspective, for the last time.

Maybe you’re here in your suffering relationally — not with people, but maybe suffering relationally with God. You’re here together tonight, because out of discipline… this is something you know you ought to do, you want to do it… but if you are really honest and transparent, you would recognize that you have prayed to God, lately, perhaps for a long time, and you haven’t heard His voice back.  You’re not quite sure if he’s even listening or if he even cares.  You’ve gone to the Scripture and you’ve read it, and you’re unmoved.  And you’re starting to get worried and concerned about the trajectory of your relationship with God the Father.

We are to be reminded this evening that Christ experienced this as well on this Good Friday.

For the Scripture tells us that he called out, “Father… why have you forsaken me?

As He called out to the sky, “Where are you in all of this?”  For the first time and for the last time He experienced or heard no reply… just dead silence.

Where was He?

Gold Dividing Line

It is for all of these reasons… it is because of this Good Friday, that the author of Hebrews is able to tell us in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter four, verses fifteen and sixteen these words.  He’s able to say,

15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So I want to ask you the question that I asked you at the beginning.

Are you prepared to suffer… and to not have your faith be shaken?

 What could happen in your life tonight or tomorrow, that would cause your faith in God to be completely shaken?  I mean, if we’re honest, all of us could think of something.

Have you built such an identity around the way that you LOOK… that if God was somehow to take that away… that your faith in him would be shaken?

Have you built such an identity around the things that you HAVE–the STUFF, and the STATUS that you’ve achieved… that if God were to take all that away… that your faith would be shaken?

Have you built such an identity around your spouse or your children, that if God were to take one of them away… your faith would be shaken?

If so, then our call, our invitation this evening… is to come before God in all honesty and sincerity, and to give those things over to himTo give those people in our lives, to give those things over to him, that if he would to take them away, our faith would not be shaken.

To hand them over to him and say, “God, You can have that, You can have all that stuff and you can have all the people of my life… they are yours.”  So that we can honestly say as Jesus prayed that prayer in the garden.

“God, not my will but yours be done.

Have your way with me in my life, because there is nothing, which you could taketh away that would cause my faith to be shaken.”

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And maybe you’re here this evening… and it’s DEATH… that has caused you to not consider this to be a Good Friday.  You’re about to experience Easter, perhaps for the first time, without someone you’ve lost in your life this past year.

Or you received a medical report that’s causing you to question whether or not you will be here with us this time next Easter.

And we’re reminded of course… above all else, that Christ is able to sympathize with us, in that is well.

We’ll close our time with how the Scripture concludes this part of the passage, with Luke Chapter twenty three, verses forty four through forty nine.

The Death of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

44-49 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 called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Friends… Christ is indeed worthy of our Worship. I invite you to stand and respond to the Word this evening, with our closing song together.

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Kirkmont Closing Pic Combo

Kirkmont Composite Pic

  Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
http://www.kirkmont.org/

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