Friday, April 22, 2011


We all love Easter, but we forget that we don't get Easter without going through Good Friday. As a way to help you reflect on Good Friday, I wanted to pass on a message I preached a few years back at a community Good Friday service. I thought it might be helpful for you as you consider all that Jesus did on this Good Friday.

(As you read it, give me grace - it was early in my ministry. The delivery is rough, but the content is helpful.)

"Why do they call it Good Friday?"
April 18, 2003
LaGrange, IN
Josh Hossler

"I want to say that it is truly a privilege for me to be able to speak to all of you today.  I enjoy being up here even if criterion for being here is less than distinguished. [They picked the Good Friday speaker simply based on who the newest pastor in the community was.]

I think my message will mean more to you today if you know a little bit about who I am, so I would like to entertain you with a brief digression. I am the pastor of the LaGrange Missionary Church, and have been for a little over 10-months. (I’ll get this one out of the way right up front) I am 24-yrs. old, have been married for a little over one year, and am not yet a dad. I graduated from Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana, in the winter of 2001. I am the youngest of 4 in my family, born to Dr. Bill & Margaret Hossler.

My father is a Missionary Church pastor of 32 years, 25 of which were spent in Port Huron, Michigan, the town where I was born. Like this community, the churches of Port Huron also gathered together the Friday before Easter for a service much like ours. And, being one of the leading pastors in the community, my dad gave his share of Good Friday messages. Good Friday service was always a part of our Easter celebrations.

Round about the age when children begin making connections between ideas, beliefs, and reality, I too came to a eureka, of sorts, and a question. It was a normal Good Friday. I was on my way to the community service with my dad; while the rest of my family was planning to meet us there. In the car on the way to the service, I began thinking…

Knowing that we as Christians, love Jesus (or are at least supposed to), learn from Jesus (in Scripture), and want to be like Jesus – knowing that Jesus was a really nice guy, knowing that he healed people, fed people, and helped just about everyone... and knowing that Good Friday is the day that we remember Jesus’ horrible death on a cross, I asked my dad this question.

“Dad,” I said, (my face painted with the color of curiosity) with my head slightly tilted with curiosity.  “Dad, why is today called Good Friday?”  “Isn’t this a sad day?”  “They killed Jesus!  Isn’t this a bad thing?”

It didn’t make sense to me, how on the day we remember the death of my friend Jesus, the friend I had been taught to love in Sunday School – How we could possibly call this day a Good day?

The question I think, is one worth tending to this morning.

Why do we call it Good Friday?

There are all kinds of ways to answer, but I want us to look specifically at a few verses in Romans–

Romans 5:6-8
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I want to point out from these verses, just a few of the reasons why we call today Good Friday.

Why do we call today Good Friday?

1) Because God came to us.

Isn’t that good news – God came to us.  He didn’t wait for us to come to Him.  He came to us! 2 Corinthians tells us this, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (2 Co. 5:19) Here’s the good news: When it says “world”, you and I are included in that!  We could basically take the word “world” out of that verse and insert your name.

“God was reconciling Josh to Himself in Christ.”
“God was restoring Josh to a right relationship with Himself in Christ.”
“God did this, Jesus did this, so that Josh and God could be together again.”

Isn’t it good news that God came to us.  He didn’t wait for us to come to Him? Here’s even better news: God’s reconciliation is still available.  God is still in the restoration business.

Why do we call it Good Friday?

2) Because on the cross Jesus spoke up for the powerless.

“When we were still powerless.” You could insert your name in there. “When Josh was powerless” “when Josh could do nothing to get back to God on his own.”  The human predicament is that we are lost and unable to find the way – powerless.

Illus.: “$25 For A Crippled Puppy” (Bruce Howell)
The story is told of a farmer was sitting on the front porch one summer evening when a newspaper boy came to deliver his paper. The boy noticed a sign on the porch which read, “Puppies For Sale.” He got off his bike and said to the farmer, “How much do you want for the pups, mister?” “$25, son.” The boy’s face dropped. “Well, sir, could I at least see them anyway?” The farmer whistled and in a moment the mother dog came bounding around the corner of the house tagged by 4 cute puppies, wagging their tails and yipping happily. At last, another puppy came straggling around the house, dragging one leg behind. “What’s the matter with that puppy, mister?” the boy asked the farmer. “Well son, that puppy is crippled. We took her to the vet and he took an x-ray. The pup doesn’t have a hip joint and that leg will never be right.” To the amazement of the farmer, the boy dropped his bike, reached for his collection bag, and took out a fifty-cent piece. “Please mister, I want to buy that pup. I’ll pay you 50 cents each week until that $25 is paid. Honest I will, mister.” The farmer said, “But son, you don’t seem to understand. That pup will never be able to run or jump. That pup is going to be a cripple forever. Why in the world would you want such a useless pup as that?” The boy reached down a pulled up his pant leg, revealing a brace, holding a poor, twisted leg. “Mister,” the boy said, “that pup is going to need someone who understands him to help him in life!”

There’s no greater an example of an underdog than the sinner, who has been crippled in his soul. He’s been cut off from God—unable to help himself. Jesus is for the sinner. That’s why He came. God came to those who couldn’t help themselves.

Why do we call it Good Friday?

3) Because on the cross God showed that He was for the sinner.

“We were powerless and ungodly.” That didn’t keep God away from us. Jesus was ridiculed for siding with sinners, but aren’t you glad that God has an affinity for the ungodly? Again, we could remove word “ungodly” in this verse and insert our own name.

“Christ died for Josh.” “Christ died for me.”  “Christ died for ______ (put your name in there).” 

From the cross Jesus looked at those who spat upon him and ridiculed him; he looked at them and he said these words… “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (for they do not know what they are doing). (Lk 23:34) When Jesus cried out in this manner, I have to think that he was crying out not just on behalf of those who were there that day, but he was crying out on behalf of humanity from that day until the end – asking God to forgive sins.

You can substitute your name in that verse.  Personalize it. It’s as if Jesus were crying out… “Father, forgive Josh, for he knows not what he does.” Today is a good day because this is the day of our forgiveness!

Why do we call it Good Friday?

4) Because on the cross Jesus took our place.

That should have been you!  That should have been me!

Jesus stepped between you and your punishment and took it all, every last bit of what you and I deserve. And that punishment was given to Jesus in the form of ridicule, rejection, physical beatings, loneliness, betrayal, humiliation, and finally death.

Our current day dramatizations place Jesus on the cross for a brief period of time, but in reality the gospel accounts give us a period of at least 6-hours that he was on the cross.
(Most of us would struggle with a six hour car ride – this was no car ride.)

The well-known artist, Rembrandt, has a painting which he has named The Three CrossesIf you were to look at Rembrandt's painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you'd be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.

“Christ died for us.” Christ died because of us, because of our sins, our sins helped nail him to the cross… BUT, he also died “for us – in our place. You can put your name in there. “Christ died for Josh“Christ died in the place of Josh.

Why do we call today Good Friday?

5) Because on the cross GOD whispered to the world (as only He can with an earthquake and thunder), and said, “I LOVE YOU!”

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this (in Christ’s death).” How humbling it is to be able to place my name in this verse. “God demonstrates His own love for Josh in this…” God placed this verse here in Scripture as if He were declaring to the world His unconditional love for me.  And He demonstrated that love to the world, by dying for me.

Place your name in there: How does that make you feel? God said here, that He did this for you. On the cross God said in front of the world, “I love you!”

A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on "The Love of God." As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say. 

To call this day, the day we remember the crucifixion of our Savior, calling it Good Friday is perhaps the grossest understatement in the entire history of the world!  This day is enormously more than just good.

No, I’m not suggesting that we change the name of the day to Best Friday, or Greatest Friday.  I’m simply suggesting, that if the day is so great, maybe we should let it truly change us, and be convinced that it can change the world too.

Maybe to put things into perspective we could ask ourselves this question, “Where would we be without the cross?” or another question… “Why do we call it Good Friday?”

Romans 5:6-8

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."