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Apr 19, 2019

Hear Him through what you See of Him, Good Friday 2019

Hear Him through what you See of Him, Good Friday 2019

Passage: Matthew 5:43-48

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: The Highest Good

It so happens we hear from Jesus His hardest words on the day we remember His darkest hour. How shall we understand His words about persecution and perfection in that very moment when He who was perfect--the only perfect One--experienced the utter depths of persecution?

Order of Worship

Pre-Service Text: Isaiah 53:5
Reading 1: Luke 23:26-34
Reading 2: Luke 23:35-43
Reading 3: Luke 23:44-46
Reading 4: Luke 23:47-49
Sermon Title: Hear Him through what you See of Him
Central Text: Matthew 5:43-48
Confession / Communion
Corporate Confession of Sin, see below
Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Reading 5: Luke 23:50-56
Benediction: Ephesians 2:14-16
Post-Service Text: Matthew 27:59-60

Readings & Scripture

Pre-Service Text: Isaiah 53:5
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Reading 1: Luke 23:26-34
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Reading 2: Luke 23:35-43
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you,
today you will be with me in paradise.”

Reading 3: Luke 23:44-46
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Reading 4: Luke 23:47-49
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Central Text: Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Corporate Confession of Sin:
Almighty God,
in raising Jesus from the grave,
you shattered the power of sin and death.
And yet we confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear,
bound by the ways that lead to death.
We overlook the poor and the hungry,
and pass by those who mourn;
we are deaf to the cries of the oppressed,
and indifferent to calls for peace;
we despise the weak,
and abuse the earth you made.
Forgive us, God of mercy.
Help us to trust your power
to change our lives and make us new,
that we may know the joy of life abundant
given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.

Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Reading 5: Luke 23:50-56
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

Benediction: Ephesians 2:14-16
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Post-Service Text: Matthew 27:59-60
59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. When have you ever been in a situation in which you might love an enemy? What were the circumstances? How did it “go”? What was hard about it--or too hard to persevere in?
  2. How did Jesus himself embody the very things He’s teaching here? For what purpose(s) did He obey His own teaching?
  3. Why is Good Friday good? How would you explain the reason Christians call it good to someone who has no knowledge of Jesus? Why would they think it good, if in fact they believed it were true?
  4. How is the good news about Good Friday meant to help us obey this counter-intuitive instruction? Jesus’s example of this hard teaching helps us follow Him. But how is what He accomplished on our behalf crucial to having any desire or will to obey this call? How does Jesus’s giving of the Holy Spirit help, too?
  5. Perhaps the hardest word in the whole passage is the last verse: “you must be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” If “perfect” there means “whole” and “complete” how might this analogy from George MacDonald help us think of God’s love as what spurs us to walk in that whole way: “What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full-grown son?”
  6. Who in your life might represent an “opportunity” to follow this instruction? How might one pray as the first step?


  • The problem with hatred is that it almost always sees others as the chief problem: a warped self-righteousness infects all crusades - F.D. Bruner
  • …unless it apprehends the pain of the negative, Christian hope can never be realistic and liberating. - Jurgen Moltmann
  • When you confront your enemy think first of all about your own enmity with God and about God’s compassion towards you. - Dietrich Bonhöeffer
  • On the one hand, God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realise from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  • What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full-grown son? - George MacDonald
  • It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged-creature. - C.S. Lewis
  • God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—[God] had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. - Dorothy Sayers


Related Media

C-Span interview with Arthur Brooks on his new book entitled Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt


Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt, by Arthur Brooks (here’s a review)