Let's go ahead and jump into our series here,  entitled Three Days. All right, now my monitors are working. Now I know where I'm at on the slides. That is awesome.  You know, Easter weekend is a celebration of three days that change the world and can still change us. And so I'm gonna be preaching the next three Sundays, the idea of focusing in, you know, on those three days.

And I know you're familiar with the story if you grew up in church or you've been around Christianity or you are a Christian. But I hope to give us some fresh insight, some fresh understanding, some fresh perspective on those three days and how they not just transformed the world back then, but can still transform us.

So hopefully you're ready. Hopefully, you're with me. Hopefully, you're excited.  cause this is the most important thing about our faith. These three days.  LaShana made a beautiful slide. Thank you, LaShana Hawkins, for that. Again, we have invites that you should have gotten as you're coming in. If you didn't get them on the way and if you got here early, They will be at the door on your way out.

Grab a few invites, invite your neighbors, invite your friends, your co-workers, because we're gonna have an awesome time jumping in the Gospels and learning more about these three amazing days. Of course, Friday is the cross, which we're gonna focus on today. Saturday is all about the tomb,  the one day, perhaps, in about 2, 000 years, no one believed in Jesus.

And Sunday, of course, is gonna be about the resurrection, which we'll celebrate on Easter Sunday. These three days, we remember Easter weekend and were foundational to the early church,  Paul wrote 1st Corinthians, the apostle Paul, he wrote it, they think around early fifties A. D. It's one of the earliest written New Testament letters, the book of first Corinthians.

And in 1st Corinthians, Paul says, he says something very specific about these three days in first Corinthians 15.  It's there on the slide in verses,  one through five, he says, now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received. and on which you have taken your stand.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I pass on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. That's Friday. That He was buried, that's Saturday. That He was raised on the third day, on Sunday, according to the Scriptures.

And that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. And so right away, you know, Paul establishes the church, this is only twenty days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It's very established, the facts of these three days. Friday, Jesus died on the cross. Saturday, his body lay lifeless in the tomb. But Sunday, praise God, Sunday, he rose again from the grave.  Matthew's Gospel can help us better understand the facts, Of these three days. So we're just going to look a little bit here, just to kind of give you a little bit of an overview, kind of a, you know, a zooming out view of these three days, kind of the facts that happened.

Friday was Passover. Jesus told his disciples, In Matthew 26, 17 through 20, he told them to, to go find a room that was gonna be prepared for him. And, yeah, come on,  let's get the old pulpit next week, 'cause this thing is struggling.  I can't even fit my Bible and my iPad on it.

Hold on, sorry, let me get turned there. In Matthew  27,  there on the screen, you can see it, but let me turn to it in my Bible. There we go. Jesus told his disciples to make preparations for the Passover, right? And so in verses, 17 through 20, through 19, they go and do that. The master wants a room and someone gives it to him there in Jerusalem and they prepare for the Passover.

Then in verse 20, of course, ensues the Last Supper, as we call it today, where Jesus says, this very night all of you will flee, one of you will betray me, and I will be arrested and killed. You know, and so Jesus on Friday starts to predict that his death is coming. He actually goes then before the Sanhedrin, Who try to bring up false accusations against him that contradict themselves.

Then eventually he does say that he is the Messiah. They bring him, which would be the meaning of a king in the Jewish language. So they bring him then before Pilate. And say, he's saying he's the king of the Jews. We only have one king, and it's Caesar. The Jews, they couldn't execute anyone. They're trying to get Jesus executed by Pilate by saying that he said that he was the king of the Jews. Then Pilate eventually tries to get out of it. Eventually, he agrees to the crowds and the Jewish leaders that Jesus should be crucified for his crimes. Then he is crucified, and this is now Friday morning.

The Jewish day started in the evening. So Passover started Friday night. This is now Saturday morning to us, but still Friday to them, because their Jewish day started in the evening. This is still Friday to them, but it's now in the morning. The sun is up, and Jesus is crucified sometime in the morning, because Matthew's Gospel, as you see on the screen, in chapter 27, verses 45 to 50, records that from noon to darkness, from noon to three, darkness came over the land.

And so Jesus now is on the cross, we know, at least from noon to three.  And then eventually it says there, in verse 50, he, he cried out again in a loud voice, and he gave up. His spirit. And so we know Jesus died before evening came. The Gospels make that very clear. and then he's placed in the tomb before the Sabbath.

As evening approaches it says there in Matthew 27, verse 57, There came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, and he asked Pilate for Jesus' body, and he placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. The story goes that when Joseph of Arimathea, you know, came to Pilate, Pilate was like, Joseph, you know, you're this very wealthy man, and you've spent All this money on this new tomb, why would you, why would you do this for this man named Jesus?

And Joseph responded, well it's only for the weekend. So as soon as,  it's done for you.  You guys are so serious, I'm glad I got you loosened up a little bit, it's very quiet in here. So Jesus is buried in Pilate's tomb. So Saturday, Saturday,  we have nothing in the Gospels recorded about Saturday, the day Jesus' body lay lifeless in the tomb.

Except for what records in Matthew.  Chapter, twenty-seven here, verses sixty-two to sixty-six. The chief priests and Pharisees come to Pilate, and they say, we remember while he was still alive that the deceiver said, after three days I'll rise again, so give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.

And so they put a guard and a seal on the tomb there on Saturday. That's the only thing we have recorded in the Gospels about that particular day. And then of course, Sunday, the day we are all very familiar with, that we'll celebrate on Easter Day, and we'll look at more in-depth that day, The resurrection is loud and clear in Matthew 28  verses 1 through 6. 

It says after the Sabbath at dawn on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. In verse 2, there was a violent earthquake for an angel. The Lord came down from heaven and going to the tomb rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white as snow.

The guards were so afraid of him. That they shook and became like dead men. Verse 5, The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. Referring to that Friday. He's not here. He has risen. Just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.

There you will see him. Now I have told you.  And so within 20 years of these three days that we just looked at, Matthew 27 through 28. The facts of these three days are clearly established, so much so that Paul can say, say in 1 Corinthians 15, the scripture we had in the very beginning, that these three things are of certain importance, and they're facts that cannot be disputed.

He actually goes on in verse 6 to say, there are actually 500 eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. If you need more proof there are more 500 people that can tell you about it right now. Christianity did not come to form in the story over hundreds of years, and it wasn't just a nice idea, a legend that formed hundreds of years later. No, within 20 years of Jesus' crucifixion, the early church is loudly and clearly proclaiming that on Friday Jesus died on the cross, Saturday He was in the tomb, but on Sunday He rose again. And that is the gospel message. That, that's, that's what the gospel really is all about. And so three days could also be called the gospel.

That could be another title for this sermon series. Because those three days really in many ways define the gospel. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. All of our spiritual hope,  and most of our spiritual direction as Christians lies in these three facts. And you find these three facts in these days referred to over and over all throughout scripture, which we'll look at here in a moment.

And what's interesting is the gospel is,  it's very heavenly, it's very divine. This idea that Jesus, would come and die for our sins. And that we get to, as disciples, die to our old life, be buried in the water of baptism, and raised again to a new life. There's so many connections.

That's just baptism and repentance, right? To these three days. But these three days, Paul says here, are also very practical, as he's talking to the church in Corinth. He says you need to remember the facts of these three days, in verse 1. He says, in verse 1, you need to receive it. It's not just good enough to know the information.

Oh yeah, I know the facts. Do you get it in your heart?  Is it in your heart? Have you received the gospel those three days? And sometimes he says in verse one, you gotta take your stand on it.  Sometimes you don't you don't know how valuable it is until you have to fight for it.  And I would say today we have to fight for the truths of the gospel, amen?

And ultimately he says in verse two here, he says we are saved by the power that was unleashed on those three days. So as we explore these three remarkable days in the history of humankind. Where and how do you need this gospel of Jesus Christ? If you're a Christian, you still need it. Yeah, you need it when you weren't a Christian, and you need to hear it, and receive it, and accept it, and be saved by it.

But today, as a Christian, you and I still, need it.  This is dangerous.  And so is the gospel. And if you're not a Christian  I hope you're here because you need to hear the gospel. You need to not just hear the gospel, but receive it, and let it flow. It's save you.

And that's what this series is going to be all about. So we'll end our time every Sunday for the next three Sundays taking communion. But before we take communion today, I want to talk about this first day, Friday. I want to talk about this first day, Friday, and there's three areas we want to talk about.

It's brilliance, it's courage, and it's love. Let's first look at its brilliance.  Let's look at the brilliance of that Friday that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  In the first century, there were many wannabe messiahs. Does that make sense? They acted like, or thought they were the Messiah, but in the end they were not.

Jewish history and Josephus is the Jewish historian that gives us most of the records from the first century time when Jesus had his ministry. Josephus mentions Jesus as well. He records about 18 different men that claim to be the Messiah in Jesus' day. And Jesus is one of those men, you know, that he, that he records about, and we'll talk a little bit more about that. 

And the Jews believed in a lot of different things about this Messiah, what he would do, how he would come. But they all agreed that when the Messiah showed up, he'd have a cage match with the Romans and they would lose. He would come in and he would kick the Romans out of Jerusalem. And Israel would be its own nation again. 

And two of these wannabe messiahs are actually mentioned in scripture. You may or may not have noticed this, but in Acts chapter 5, the apostles are, you know, this young fledgling church is getting persecuted. And the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees and chief priests, they're not liking it. They thought they killed their leader and it would end it.

But it actually is now growing even more after they killed the leader. So now they're thinking about killing the apostles. And they're having this conversation and Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was honored by all the people, stood up in Acts five, verse thirty-four in the Sanhedrin in order that these men be put outside for a little while.

Then he addressed the Sanhedrin men of Israel. Consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago, Thutis appeared, claimed to be somebody in about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed. All his followers were dispersed, and it came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt.

He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case, I advise you, leave these men alone. Let them go, for if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But it is from God you will not be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God. 

Very good advice, wasn't it?  Because they were just fighting against God at that time. But he mentions here, of course, Thutis and then Judas the Galilean. Thutis appeared before Judas. He claimed he could part the Jordan River. He claimed he was gonna topple the walls of Jerusalem. Like Jericho was toppled.

The Romans start to hear about this guy, Thutis. They bring him before the temple courts, there in the public square in Jerusalem, and they cut off his head.  And that was the end of his revolt.  Judas the Galilean showed up a little later. He actually founded the group in Jesus' day that were known as the Zealots.

Simon was one of the followers of that initial movement by Judas the Galilean. And this all happened when Jesus was a boy. And once the Romans found out about it, they came to Sepphoris, which is kind of their base, which is a town just down the road from Nazareth. And it's probably a town that Jesus, as a boy, would have traveled to with his father, who was a carpenter, because all their all the shops and all the shopping, the markets were in Sepphoris, not Nazareth.

Nazareth was a very small town. And what they did was they took they took Judas and his 2, 000 followers, the Romans, and they crucified all of those men along that road from Sepphoris to Nazareth.  It says, very likely, Jesus would have seen what the Romans did to someone who called himself a Messiah, even as a boy.

And that was the end, of course, of that movement as well. So Jesus, as he shows up, he has to navigate a very pro-Messiah culture amongst the Jews, and a very anti-Messiah culture among the Romans, of course. And so the Jesus, when he has his ministry, he doesn't really talk about being the Messiah.

He just does the work and does the teaching that makes the Jews start to think maybe he is the Messiah they've been waiting for. And even when Jesus does a miracle, he's like, hey, don't go, don't tell anybody. Be quiet, right? And if they don't, he has to leave the town, right? Because a revolt, a mob, would have started if they really got who he was too soon.

And so Jesus, all through his ministry, is pretty quiet about him being the Messiah. But then he's arrested on Friday morning.  And he's brought to a private meeting with the Jewish religious leaders.  And he's brought before them. And they bring all these false accusations again to him. And the high priest stands up and says, Are you not going to answer?

In Mark 14 verse 60,  What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you? But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? I am, said Jesus in verse 62. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.

So Jesus gets real clear, real fast to them, that yes, I am the Messiah. Then they bring him before Pilate, because the Jews, as I mentioned, could not execute him anyone publicly. They need Rome to do that. Pilate, is not really convinced that there's anything to kill Jesus over.  And he's looking for a reason to release him,  cause it says in the text that the Jewish leaders were jealous of him.

He even tries at one point when he finds out that he's a Galilean, to send him to Herod, that was Herod's jurisdiction in Galilee, but Herod doesn't find anything and sends him back to Pilate. So then he's before Pilate, and  Pilate is going back and forth with the Jewish leaders and Jesus. He says to him in John's Gospel, verse 33, Are you the king of the Jews? 

Jesus replies, Is that your own idea? Did others talk to you about me?  Am I a Jew? Pilate replied. Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?   Your own people and chief priests have handed over to me. What is it you have done? Pilate says. Jesus then says, My kingdom is not of this world.

If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place. You are a king then, said Pilate. Jesus answered. You say. That I'm a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

And so now before Pilate, Jesus makes it more and more clear that he is indeed the king, the Messiah, as the Jews would call him that has come. John Artberg speaks of Jesus brilliance  on that Friday with what we just read, these two passages. Now when there are no crowds around to rally to him, when he's in the hands of Pilate, when there's no chance of an army rising, To defend him when there's no chance of him being misinterpreted as a military figure.

Now, when it's too late for him to be saved, Jesus says, Yes, yes, that's me. It is, as you say, I'm the one they've been waiting for. I am their king.  On Friday, the Jews specifically the Jewish leaders, thought they were, they were playing Pilate to get rid of this troublemaker Jesus. Pilate thought he was playing the Jewish leaders.

You know, I'll placate the crowds and kind of calm this down by killing Jesus. But Jesus was playing them all. He knew exactly what he was doing. And he knew exactly why he was going to die on the cross that very day. The Jewish leaders could not accept him as the Messiah. Pilate was threatened by him being the Messiah.

And Jesus used both of those facts masterfully on Friday to arrange His redemption for all humankind on the cross. He knew exactly what He was doing and why. He referenced this in John's Gospel,  in John chapter 10,  verse 17. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again.

No one takes it from me, He says, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. John 10, 17.  And of course, sadly,  but in the end, we know the rest of the story triumphantly. Jesus was crucified on that Friday. And the sign above his head, as he was crucified, was and still is a reminder of his brilliance on that day.

Pilate has a sign placed on his head in John 19, verses 18-22. And the sign that was prepared and fastened to the cross, it read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.  And it says, many of the Jews who read this sign for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Jesus, it says, King of the Jews, another word for the Messiah, King of the Jews, was written in Aramaic, which was the language of the Jewish people. And everyone in Jerusalem would have seen where they put it was a very public place where they crucified Jesus.

It was also written in Greek. The language of the cultured world at that time. So anybody from anywhere who didn't speak Aramaic would have spoken Greek. And many of those who spoke Aramaic spoke Greek too. And then lastly, it was written in Latin. Latin was the language of the Roman Empire.  So it was like this billboard  for all to see and hear.

Jesus is the Messiah. So even as he's been crucified, he's, he's, he's brilliant. He's making it very clear, and he doesn't even have to say it, who he is. By even the sign of the area, people were trying to stop him above his head.  The Romans proclaimed at the end of that sign that Jesus is the Messiah in every known language of that area.

On Friday, Jesus outthought every group and every power against him. The cross was brutal, but Jesus overcame it with his brilliance.  You know, this Easter season, I think we need to, we need to get a little bit more in awe and wonder of our Lord and our Savior.  This is just one little example of his brilliance.

There are, there are many other things we don't have time to get into today, but I feel like if any time of the year we're gonna get a little more of who he is, this is it. It's,  this is what we should be talking about in our fellowship times. This is what we should be focusing on, this brilliant, amazing Savior, Jesus.

On that Friday, despite the darkness and the hatred, Jesus showed an amazing brilliance. Hopefully this Easter we will get that a little more. The second thing he showed on that day was courage.  He also showed courage. 

After the Last Supper, which was the start of the Passover celebration that he had his disciples set up, as we read earlier in Matthew 27,  Jesus and his disciples go to pray around midnight. At the Garden of Gethsemane. The first man, you know, Adam, his life began in a garden, right? According to Genesis chapter 1.

Well, the second Adam, his life ended in a garden as well, Jesus. In Mark 14,  as Jesus is praying in Gethsemane with his disciples, He takes Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed in Mark 14, in verse 32.  And what does he say to them? He says, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

Stay here and keep watch. Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. And then he prays that prayer two more times because he's not been arrested yet, but he knows the arrest is about to come. 

Verse 41, returning the third time, he said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go. Here comes my betrayer.  John's Gospel records this part. Gives a little different window upon Judas and the lynch mob arriving to arrest Jesus. 

In John's gospel, in chapter 18, verses 4 through 9, it says, Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and, and asked him, Who is it that you want?  Jesus of Nazareth, they replied. I am he, Jesus said. And Judas the traitor was standing there with him. And when Jesus said, I am he, they drew back and fell to the ground.

These are armed temple guards. And they fall to the ground when Jesus says, I am he.  Again, he asked them, who is it you want? Jesus of Nazareth, they said. Jesus answered I told you that I am he. If you're looking for me, then let these men go. This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled.

I've not lost one of these you gave me. You know, Jesus in prayer, before he's arrested in Gethsemane, Says his soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He's deeply distressed. And he asked God three times, Hey, God, if there's another way for me to save the world, may you deliver me in another way to save the world. 

But he, of course, in the end, decided he would drink that cup. And he says, Rise, let us go. Here comes my betrayer. And then when the arrest mob shows up to get him, you know, they fall to the ground. When he identifies himself,  Jesus in prayer that night goes from my soul's overwhelmed to flexing on his arresters, you know, freeing his disciples in the process.

It was so courageous. It was so courageous. It takes courage to choose that kind of death, crucifixion.  And Jesus did something very courageous that night for you and me, right, so that we could be saved in the end. And courage is not the absence of fear or uncertainty or doubt, right? Courage is not the absence of hard feelings.

It's doing the right thing despite those hard feelings.  And I think today, to be a strong Christian, it requires more courage than maybe we want to have. It requires a whole lot more courage than maybe we want to have.  And if we won't, if we won't have that courage to, choose a spiritual death in whatever area we're being challenged to die to, spiritually, to follow Jesus, we're not going to find more of the life that Jesus wants us to find.

Because His death, His courage, His courageous death opened up life that we get to celebrate today. Amen. And our spiritual courage will do the same thing.  When we die to ourselves, as Jesus calls us to follow Him. When we, when we die to our sinful natures, when we die to our anger and our rage and our lack of forgiveness, when we die to the world and its ways, it takes courage to take that stand at work. 

When everybody else is looking at that, that impure video.  It takes courage to stand on campus and say, I'm not gonna be like everybody else and sleep around. I'm gonna be pure till the day I'm married or the day I die. It takes courage to be an older single and say, Yeah, well, maybe, maybe my husband in the end is just gonna be Jesus, and I'm okay with that.

It takes courage.  And you don't, you don't find that courage by, by it going easy. You find that courage by taking on the hard stuff,  by dying to ourselves and dying to our sinful natures.  And if we're not willing to do that, we won't find the true life Jesus has called us to. Over and over, the Scriptures call us to that.

In Romans chapter 6, Verses 8-13, it mentions Jesus' death and how that death connects to our death to sin. We are to die to sin because we are connected to Jesus' death on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5, it says that death that displayed His love, it compels us. It compels us to live for Him and to no longer live for self.

Colossians 3 verses 1-5, it says, Since you've been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, for Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. And then it says, therefore, you can put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature, because you already died.

You already died to that life. 2 Timothy chapter 2, verses 10 through 11. It says, therefore, I endure everything, this is the Apostle Paul, for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Here's a trustworthy saying, if we die with Him, we will also live with Him.

Christians who quit, they don't get the value of dying.  You quit on your faith, you don't get the value of dying. Because here Paul says, I endure everything because I got who died for me. Because he died for me, I can live. I can endure whatever I face.  1 Thessalonians 5, 9 11. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

He died for us, so that, whether we awake or asleep, we may live together with Christ.  Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up. This is, in fact, you are doing. When was the last time you encouraged your brother or sister by saying, It's probably time to die.  Ah, I'm really struggling. Ah, this is really hard.

Well, It's time to die. Let me encourage you. It's time to die Forest.  But that's what the scriptures teach because there's power when we courageously die to our sinful natures. I'm not saying die to people's agendas. I'm not saying die to your ministry. I'm not saying die to sinful natures. I'm not saying be a spiritual doormat here.

I'm saying die to the things that can keep you from finding life in Him.  Jesus, He showed us the way. And I think some of us are losing our way. And some of us have lost our way, because we no longer want to die for Him.  We died when we got baptized to sin. We died to our old life. We got this new life, but over time, it doesn't look as good as it used to. 

And yeah, you know, we can blame the church, or blame that person, or blame this situation. But in my experience, when I get to that point, nine times out of ten, It's because Forrest doesn't want to die.  That's why he's struggling in his faith.  And you can give all the, all the excuses you want, but I want you to think about that in your struggles in the past.

And if you're currently struggling, ask yourself that question. Is it that I'm not willing to be courageous and die for my Lord spiritually anymore? Is that what's holding you back today? Easter's the time to reflect on that challenge. So he had courage that Friday, and lastly here, we'll take communion Of course, of course, on that Friday, He displayed and He showed us love.

He displayed and He showed us love.  Can't be afraid to face those Fridays because those Fridays, when we courageously face them,  they help us find Jesus' love, which is the ultimate thing that we get from that death on that Friday. That faithful Friday revealed why Jesus came and chose death as the Messiah.

Not for power,  not for victory, not for religion. He chose and came for love. He came for love. Right? The scriptures say this over and over. You know them.  You've watched football enough, you know John 17, right?  And it's kind of sad because it's lost its meaning and its message, right? Because we've heard it so many times, but it's such a profound statement about why Jesus came. 

For God so loved the world, it says, right? In John 3, 16, that he gave his one and only son. Not just that He came, but that He died. He gave Him. It was a sacrifice. That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 

You know, in Romans 5, Paul later reflects in the same way. He says, you see, at just the right time, in Romans 5, verse 6, we were still powerless. Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, 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.  The ultimate example of love is, is, you know, I love my wife, I love my daughters, I'd die for them in a heartbeat. I don't even gotta think about that.  But beyond that, I think I'd struggle. I love you guys, but I think I'd struggle for probably a lot of you, you know, the rest of you, but, but my wife and my daughters, I really don't think that'd even be a hesitation.

I hope I'd die for all of you, too. But you understand what I'm saying. There's degrees, you know, of love that we all have, right, you know, and, and how much we're willing to give based on those degrees or those loves.  But this says the exact opposite of Jesus. I'm a sinner.  I got my weaknesses and my shortcomings.

He says, He died for the most ungodly and the worst of us.  Why? Because He loves us.  It was a demonstration of His love for us. And what's interesting on the bottom of the screen, we don't have time to look at this today, but feel free to read it. These are all the accounts, you know, of, of, of When Jesus is about to be crucified, he's in, he's in, he's in a holding with Pilate there, and there's another guy in prison, another Jewish prisoner named Barabbas.

Barabbas was an insurrectionist. He had murdered Romans, and so he was also, you know, gonna be crucified that day, and, and, and part of the tradition of Passover, I guess the Romans would release one of the prisoners to encourage the Jews on the day of Passover as a show of, an act of mercy. So Pilate, of course, says, Well, hey, I got two guys in prison.

You know? Jesus, who you say is the King of the Jews, and this guy Barabbas, which one do you want? And the chief priests and elders get the crowd to say, We, we, we want Barabbas! Crucify Jesus! Crucify Jesus! And it's all, it's in all four, this part of the story, is in all four of the Gospels. Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 18.

So the, so the guy that's guilty, The insurrectionist, the murderer, he gets released.  And the one who is innocent and did nothing but love and teach the truth, of course, is killed instead.  Well, why?  Again, because of Jesus love.  Barabbas, in many ways, represents each one of us. Right? I think that's why it's in all four Gospels, that particular part.

In love, Jesus died for each one of us.  In love, he also died for all. What's interesting is, you know, as Jesus comes into Jerusalem,  We call it Palm Sunday, right? Because what are they doing? They're laying down palms. They're greeting him like a king. And they're saying, Hosanna, Hosanna. And they're basically saying the Messiah has arrived.

The crowds are basically saying the Messiah has arrived. The day Jesus comes in on that Friday. Actually that Thursday. Before the Passover on that Friday. So they're giving a messianic entrance. The crowds in Jerusalem.  The Roman soldiers, of course, are very aware of this. Because they're all throughout the city at this time.

And so the tension in Jerusalem when Jesus arrives, it's very thick. And what's interesting, in fact, I learned about the Roman soldiers stationed in Israel at that time is most of them were probably young Syrian boys who were basically, you know, forced to be in the Roman military because the Roman conquered, you know, the neighbors there to the north, the Syrians.

And so Jesus sees the crowds and he knows if he, if he kind of goes with their flow and does what they want him to do at that point, that, that war's gonna break out against the Romans probably. And he sees the Roman soldiers and he sees these, these innocent boys who've been forced to fight Encrypted into military service for an empire they don't even really probably believe in.

And you can imagine, you can see the war that would break out, had he embraced the military messiah figure that they wanted him to be. And of course, this will happen. In 70 A. D., the Jews start to revolt,  and they're laid under siege by the Romans. And in 70 A. D., the Romans, they, they ransack the temple, they loot it, they bring all the treasures of the temple, all the holy pieces back to Rome, and they, waylace the city and many Jews died of starvation. It was a terrible thing, Josephus writes all about it.  So on that day Jesus entered Jerusalem, that all could have happened, but instead, Jesus died for them all, because he loved them all.  John Ortberg speaks of the remarkable shift on the view of the cross that occurred on that Friday, because before, before Jesus died on the cross, the cross was a symbol of the Roman power,  and the Roman coercion.

You submit to Rome or else. That's why it was a very public execution. Everyone was reminded, you don't, you don't mess with Rome. But Jesus You know, this poor, obscure peasant from Nazareth dies on the cross, and then the whole meaning of the cross since then has absolutely changed. The whole meaning of Friday has absolutely changed.

And John Ruppert says this, The cross was changed from the symbol of a human empire's power into a symbol of the suffering love of God. It was changed from an expression of ultimate threat into an expression of ultimate hope. It came, in a sense, to express the exact opposite Of its original purpose, that the power of the embrace sacrifice is greater than the power of coercion. 

Only something so beautiful as divine love could turn something so horrible, crucifixion, into something now so lovely for those of us who believe in Jesus.  You know, I hope we really think about, you know, the power of love and as it especially is displayed  on the cross. Because as I said, Jesus died for each one of us.

And Jesus died for all of us on that day when He took on that ugly and terrible cross. You know, for me, I didn't grow up in church, and I didn't really know much about the cross other than I knew some guy, Jesus died on the cross, and I didn't think much about it. And then I started studying the Gospels for the first time with some strong Christian men in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Any Bearcats out there?  All right, there's a few, there's a few. And sometimes it's silence when I say that in different places. But, I started studying the Bible, and I saw Jesus teachings. I saw his call to not just call myself a Christian, but be a disciple. I saw his call to, to, if he died for my sins, that my sin matters and I got to deal with it.

And, and I was, and I was intellectually very much understanding it, but in my heart, I didn't want to give up my life. In my heart, I didn't want to change. In my heart, I wanted to do what I wanted to do. And in my heart, I wanted to be Lord, not Jesus. And I was really struggling with that when I studied the Bible, and really looked at the Gospels, and looked at Jesus call.

But then I, I looked at what Jesus did for me on that Friday.  I looked at how much He suffered, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally on that Friday. And I'll never forget, you know, learning about the crucifixion. And it, it moves me right now when I think about it. And I just, I had a pit in my stomach. 

I, I just, I thought,  wow,  He went through all of that for me?  I, I never understood that before.  And it, it blew my mind and it changed my heart.  And my rebelliousness was over, my stubbornness was over, my, my lust for, for sin and all that it can bring was over.  And I have not been perfect since that day, but I, but I, I, I'm not looking back, I'm looking forward.

Because I was loved like that.  Easter weekend, we, we gotta get his love. We gotta get it. Sometimes we, we lose sight of it. We, we quickly lose sight, we forget as Christians how much he loves us, don't we? It's so easy to do it. It's so easy to do it. It's like young Forrest in 8th grade.  I'll tell you a story here and then we'll take communion.

In 8th grade,  I was, you know, awkward. I was leaving it at that. The middle schoolers were in class. I'm not going to say much more, but  I was super awkward Forrest. And I decided I needed to have a girlfriend because that's what all the other kids were doing. So I got this girl Krista to be my girlfriend.

And you know, whatever. It was, it was stupid. But anyway, dated Krista a couple months. I don't even know why I have a girlfriend. We break up. Whatever. You know, first girlfriend. It was just silly, so I'm good, you know, and every Friday night, I grew up in Ohio, every Friday night, it's Friday night lights, you go to the football games every Friday, you know, so I'm, I'm there at the football game a few weeks after Krista and I broke up, and I'm sitting there, you know, watching the football game, you know, just awkwardly, popcorn or something, and I look over, and, and Krista had started dating this other guy, JJ,  and JJ's like giving me the scowl while I'm watching the, I keep seeing him scowling over at me, he's not very far from me, and I'm like,  JJ seems really mad at me, you know, and so then, so then JJ sends over one of his boys, and He's like, J.J. said you were looking at Krista, so he's gonna beat you up after the game. I  was like, Oh, my goodness. Like tell him I wasn't looking at her. I'm done with her. We broke up, you know, and I look back and he's still scowling at me and he's kind of like, you know, like, you know, he's gonna take me out. And JJ, JJ is one of those guys who had a mustache in middle school. 

You know Like he was, he was a tough dude. Like I was like I'm going down after the game, you know, so I was, this is one of the most overwhelming moments in my life. When I look back on it, I was so overwhelmed. I just started crying right there in the football sandbox of the game. I ran down the stadium stairs. 

And as I'm doing this, Jason's sitting over here, and Tyson, and Jason tells Tyson to go find out why Forrest ran off crying. So, so I tell Tyson, No, JJ wants to beat me up after the game! I don't even know what I said under the, under the bleachers there, you know. And, so Tyson goes back to Jason and, and tells Jason. So Jason sends Tyson back to me and, and Tyson says, Jason's gonna tell JJ, if you touch Forrest, I'm gonna kill you.  Now JJ was tough, but Jason was the toughest dude in middle school.  Jason and I grew up in elementary school together. We were very close. We were buddies. Sleepovers, hanging out, sports. When we got to middle school, we weren't as close anymore.  But J. J. still loved me. Or Jason still loved me. J. J. didn't love me. Jason still loved me.  And so,  after J. J. hears from Tyson what Jason's gonna do if, if J. J. touches for us, guess what J. J. does? He says, Ah, just playing for us. Totally joking around. We're cool. Gives me, gives me a high five, you know.

So that Monday, you know, this transformed my whole view of middle school at this point. That Monday, I walk into middle school and I'm like walking down the, you know, I'm strutting, I'm gliding and striding, you know, like, hey JJ, hey Krista, how you doing? Good to see you. You know, I'm just, I'm so confident cause, cause I remember that Jason loved me and had my back. 

It changed everything for me, at least in 8th grade, as I knew it.  It's a true but poor analogy for why we take communion.  We must always remember his death and its expression of his amazing love. No matter what we've done, no matter who we've been, no matter what we're going to face, his love can get us through.  But we so easily forget, don't we? And communion helps us remember.

It helps us remember.  What Romans chapter 8,  you can, you can just listen, I'm gonna read it. What Romans chapter 8 says about His amazing love.  If God is for us, Paul says in Romans 8 verses 31 to 39, If God is for us,  who can be against us? He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. How will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God  who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died, referring to Friday. More than that, who was raised to life, referring to Sunday, is at the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us?

Paul says, From the love of Christ shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword, as it is written, for your sake we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, he says, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else, And all creation  will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Church, friends visiting with us today, let's reflect on the brilliance,  the courage, and ultimately the love that was shown to us on that Friday. 

Let's pray and take communion together to close out our time. 

Father, it is good to be still  after hearing the Apostle Paul proclaim how amazing the love that Jesus poured out is for us all today. Help us remember what he did for us on that fateful Friday.  His brilliance  that he could do what he had to do to take away our sins. His courage to face a  horrible and ugly and terrible torture device known as crucifixion. 

And the incredible love that he demonstrated that he still pours out today.  Though he's not physically with us.  Help us, God, remember  and be reminded of the power of the gospel. The three days that have transformed our lives and can continue to transform our lives. Help us today to see Jesus. And if someone is new to us today, God, and they're looking for his love and they're looking for salvation, I pray, God, that they can find him. 

That he can heal them. And I pray they can come to us and let us know how we can help them to find That incredible love, but thank you, God, that we can take the bread right now, which represents his body. We can drink the cup right now that represents his blood. And thank you, God, that on that fateful Friday, he died on the cross for us all.

Thank you so much for this time to remember what he did for us and what that gives us right now today. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.