Good For Us
Text: Matthew 26:26 – 30;
Proposition: No one is good but One, God. His good, His sinless person was for us, that good might one day be in us as it is in Him.
Introduction: A man who was a ruler, perhaps a young man of considerable wealth, came up to Jesus and asked a simple question, “Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” It was a simple question but a very good one. What do we need to do in order to have life after death? ‘Clearly we need to do something’, is what he thought, and to some degree he was right. The peculiar part to all this is how Jesus answered him. Matthew, Mark and Luke record this encounter and all three report exactly the same response from Jesus. He looked at this leader of men and instead of answering the question He asked a question. Jesus has a beautiful mind, it moves with perfect grace but at the speed of light. He asks the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, God.” It doesn’t sound like an answer, it sounds more like Jesus is deflecting the question and yet the response is perfect. The term ‘good’ Jesus is defining here as being a synonym for sinless. Only God is sinless, everyone would be quick to agree with that. The inference is that the young ruler doesn’t recognize Jesus as God. What is implied underneath this is the answer to the young rulers question. In order to inherit eternal life he must become ‘good’. Not just good in terms of actions, like selling all he has and giving it to the poor and then following Jesus, but good in his inner most being. It would mean that somehow the sin nature within us must be covered over with a robe of ‘good’. It has the picture of the prodigal son being covered over by the robe of his father on the day that he returned home with broken spirit.
Why all this talk about ‘good’? Well it’s Good Friday, this sermon is seeking to amplify that, it’s called ‘Good For Us’, because that’s what Good Friday is all about. Let’s talk about the ‘good’ of Jesus Christ as we recall the events of Thursday night and Friday, the day of the crucifixion. To do that let’s use three headings, Preparation, Trial, Outcome. These headings describe not only what Christ did for us back then but also how He continues to work in us today. Let’s use three passages of Scripture to do this.
I. Matthew 26: 26-30 … The Good Passover Is Prepared.
For thousands of years the Jews had kept the Passover, killing a male lamb, using ritual to remember. And well they should for God had commanded them to do so but the ritual and all that has been added to it since were not meant to end in the Exodus, they were meant to be completed and fulfilled in the Entrance. What I mean is it wasn’t just about getting out of Egypt, it was about getting into the Kingdom of God. Passover on the night that Jesus met with His disciples was the transition from Exit to Entrance. It would require a Lamb whose blood takes away the sin of the world. It would require a ‘Good Lamb’. This would refer to the sinless person of Jesus, both God and man in one body, a body of flesh and blood. I believe that Jesus was fully aware of what was unfolding that night as He told the disciples to take the Passover bread, the yeast less bread, the Bread of Affliction. Yeast became used as a metaphor for sin and this unleavened bread, was the perfect picture of the sinless body of Christ. I would imagine that Jesus watched each one take and tear off a piece of that bread, eating it in wonder of what this all meant. He gave them the cup and they all drank, the cup that He had said was His blood marking a new covenant for the remission of sin. As much as Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was to come, He Himself was being prepared. Every time the bread was torn, every drop that left the cup until it was empty, prepared Him. This is our Saviour, our Good Shepherd, moving with great intent and it was Good For Us.
II. Matthew 26: 36 -45 … The Good Trial of Gethsemane Concludes.
Though many would think that the trial that night and early the next day was before Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate the real trial happened before that, in Gethsemane. I say that because the verdict had already been struck long before the thorns stabbed His head or the scourge ripped into His back. It was in Gethsemane that the trial of Christ’s will bent before the Father’s will. There is humanity and deity in Christ in Gethsemane and the test or trial was in full session. Were we there as the angels were in those moments, the question might have been, “Are they worth it?” Look at the response of the disciples, the ones who on the face of the whole earth were the closest to Jesus. In the midst of His obvious stress He implores them three times to stay alert and to pray and three times they all deny Him. Three times Jesus faces exasperation, disappointment, despair, isolation. The angels must have been saying to one another, “Are they worth it. Look at how they sleep at such a time as this!” Strangely enough I don’t think this question ever crossed Jesus’ mind. He already knew we weren’t worthy, there is none who is or does good, no not one. The question on the mind of Christ was if there was another way that the Good of God could be given to mankind. If there was no other way then the Son would have to come to the stepping off point of laying down His will in submission to the Father’s will. This was the trial of the will of the sinless human being yielding perfectly to the will of God the Father. It was the second Adam’s will on trial and as much was lost in Eden would now be regained in Gethsemane through the yielded will of Jesus. It was a trial of eternal consequence, it was a trial that was good for us.
III. Matthew 27:33 – 54 …The Good Outcome Is Secured and Proclaimed.
We’ve said that the three headings for these events and for our own lives are Preparation, Trial and Outcome. Constantly God prepares us, it’s what the process of discipleship is all about. That preparation will be tested, we will experience various trials to build our faith and the faith of those about us and all of it is used to glorify God and ready us for the outcome of it all. So when we think of Good Friday what outcomes, what results do you see? What are the outcomes of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Let me suggest a few possibilities:
1. Through it all, Christ stood firm. You know what I mean by, ‘through it all’. The extent of the humiliation, degradation, scourging and wounding of what Christ endured was immense. It led to those four words in verse 35, “Then they crucified Him.” Flesh and blood nailed to wood and lifted up for all to see. Through His grip on Scripture, through His awareness of Who He was as the Son of God, through His faith and His will to do only what the Father directed Him in, Jesus stood firm. He stood firm enduring the foolishness of man and then stood firm against the wiles of the devil. The devil threw everything he had against Jesus that day. The temptations that Jesus had experienced in the wilderness are revamped and thrown before Him again through the words of the crowd and the Pharisees. Save your self, prove you are God, let your will exceed the will of God! Jesus stood firm and it was good for us.
2. Through death to His own will He overcame death. The great paradox for us is how the Unity of the Trinity remains intact and yet the Son is forsaken as our sin is poured out upon Him. The humanity of Christ is what experienced scourging and crucifixion and ultimately the imputing of our sin upon Him to the degree of rejection by the Father. The unity of the Trinity remained unchanged, but through the humanity of Christ death was used to pay the price of sin. The justice of a Holy God whose wrath is against sin was satisfied. Our God is just, that is a great outcome, for in His perfect justice the Father had Jesus take our place that we would now stand ‘just’ before Him. Sin and it’s consequence of separating us from God even after death were now trampled by the death of Christ. Redemption rules and this is good for us!
3. Through this great love of God there is now a way. The curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom meaning now we come into the presence of God not through priests or ritual. Now we come through this body that was torn like the Temple curtain for us. Now we come not just to the Arc of the Covenant but to the very the throne of God through this Jesus who has ransomed us and set us free. Now we come by faith, with contrite hearts as our sacrifice. Now He has made us a kingdom of priests and each persons body is considered to the Temple, the meeting place for God and man. The rocks broke in two that day, there was a resurrection for the first few, the first fruits of the great resurrection to come. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, the great outcome was proclaimed. Finished was the person Satan, his time is fixed. Finished is sin and finished is death. Finished is the plan of redemption carved in heaven before the creation of the world. Finished is the sacrifice for sin, no other can or need be added to it.
From preparation to trial to outcome... Good Friday was Good… for Us.