Mar 25, 2016 – Good Friday “Crucifixion and Victory”
We’ve heard today from Isaiah, John and Psalms. We’ve heard them each and together tell us of Jesus’ death. In Isaiah, His death was foretold, in John, His death was recorded and in Psalms, His words from the cross are heard. His death, Jesus death is what we are buried with Him in, in our baptism.
We remember that baptism is given its power to exchange our sinfulness for Christ’s righteousness by His shed blood from the cross. And that as we have died with Christ in our baptism, our life is now hidden with Christ in God. And further that Christ’s resurrection, in our baptism, has become our resurrection. It’s important to have heard again on this day the retelling of how Jesus died from John.
His gospel account makes clear to us how absolutely unfathomable is Jesus love for us that He would die such a death in our place so that we may not have to endure such agony. I’ve read the Journal of the American Medical Association report on the forensic review of Jesus death on the cross. It is unstinting in its analytical review. Keeping in mind the words of John’s gospel – So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him – I’d like to read the portion called The Medical Aspects of Crucifixion with the technical terms either removed or put into language I can understand. It says this:
With a knowledge of both anatomy and ancient crucifixion practices, one may reconstruct the probable medical aspects of this form of slow execution. Each wound apparently was intended to produce intense agony, and the contributing causes of death were numerous.
The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce more than one form of shock. When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for the nailing of his hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the cross. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal.
With arms outstretched but not taut, the wrists were nailed to the cross bar. It has been shown that the ligaments and bones of the wrist can support the weight of a body hanging from them, but the palms cannot. Accordingly, the iron spikes probably were driven between the radius and the carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones… and the various… ligaments.
Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful… injury would seem great. Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large… median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. Although the severed median nerve would result in paralysis of a portion of the hand… impalement of various ligaments by the iron spike might produce a claw–like grasp.
Most commonly, the feet were fixed to the front of the cross by means of an iron spike driven through the… spaces below the ankle joint. It is likely that the deep… plantar nerves would have been injured by the nails.
The major bodily effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhaling. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the lung and chest muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder normal exhalation. Accordingly breathing was shallow. It is likely that a build up of carbon dioxide in the lungs would soon result. The onset of muscle cramps or… contractions, due to fatigue and the build up of carbon dioxide, would hinder respiration even further.
Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and contracting the shoulders. However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the ankles and would produce searing pain. Furthermore, the bending in of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wood of the cross. Muscle cramps and an abnormal burning sensation of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia.
The actual cause of death by crucifixion had many factors and varied somewhat with each case. Death by crucifixion was, in every sense of the word, excruciating – the Latin, excruciatus means “out of the cross”.
All of what I just read is what’s contained in the words of John that we read, So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him.
But there is yet one more author, Ed Rickard of the web site The Moorings, I wish you to hear from on the death of Jesus, as he puts it so very well. He says, “Jesus’ death cannot be attributed to any physical cause, however. He taught His disciples, in John 10:17-18 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. In other words, Mr. Rickert goes on to say, He could live or die as He willed. Even when His body reached a condition that would have been fatal to other men, He had the power to go on living. The Gospel accounts show clearly that He died only when He chose to die… It was impossible that God Incarnate should die apart from His own consent. Yet when His body could no longer function without supernatural help, He did not cling to life. Instead, He willingly commended His spirit to the Father and breathed no more.”
I didn’t want you to miss that on this day. This is the day that Jesus indeed gave up His life for us. He willed to die in your place and mine. This He did out of love for the Father and for you and I. But today, we join with the others at the cross that first Good Friday knowing that Jesus has truly died. And that certainty fills our hearts with sadness.
As we leave today, we go knowing that His painful suffering and death paid completely for what we owed for our sin. And we also go knowing that His story does not end with His laying down His life but, as He told His disciples, He has power to both lay down His life and to take it up again. We gather again on the third day from now to celebrate His victory. In His name, amen.
Sermon #819 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
Psalm 22:1-8, 14-18
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. …
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John, the 19th chapter.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.