I killed Jesus, plain and simple. I realize that may not seem possible, given that my entire life has been lived almost 2,000 years after his execution and that I preach his gospel for a living. But let me explain.
An Unexpected Declaration
The first recorded sermon in the Bible after Jesus’ death and resurrection was preached by the Apostle Peter (Acts 2). He was preaching to a crowd from all over the Middle Eastern world. The people had gathered in Jerusalem for a religious festival, and many of these folks had never seen or even heard of Jesus. Some of them may have been among those calling for his execution (Luke 23:18–25), but most certainly none presided over his public execution. Yet Peter tells his listeners, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you
crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23, emphasis mine).
A Similar Claim
Paul, another early Christian preacher, makes a similar claim in Romans 3, only he extends the guilt beyond the “men of Israel” Peter addressed in Jerusalem. Paul goes global in his accusation when he says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23–25).
Two ideas are connected together here like links in a chain. “All have sinned” is intertwined with “propitiation by his blood.” Propitiation is “pacifying wrath by taking care of the penalty for the offense that caused the wrath” (Doctrine, 259). “All [a category including me] have sinned [fallen short of God’s glory],” which caused the need for propitiation, which was accomplished by Jesus’ blood shed to the point of death.
In other words, my sin killed Jesus. I am responsible for his death.
It’s a lot easier to accept my guilt intellectually than emotionally. But that wasn’t how the people in Acts 2 responded to Peter’s accusation. According to the Bible, “They heard this they were cut to the heart“ (2:37). I am praying that this year on Good Friday you and I will have that same experience again or, perhaps for the very first time.
The Father’s Justice
Please ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to two realities of Good Friday as you think about what Jesus went through that night. First, ask him to show you the Father’s righteous justice. God couldn’t let our rebellion go any further. We were mocking his authority. We were trashing his glory. We had to be punished. He had to be vindicated. God’s holy, righteous character demanded blood—our blood—for our rebellion. And so Jesus took our place and died a gruesome death fitting for our hideous sin.
The Father’s Love
Second, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the Father’s love. He could have just killed you and me for our treason. We chose to please ourselves. We worshiped creation over the Creator. He was rightfully angry with us, and we had it coming.
But instead of hating us, he loved us. While we were still sinners, God loved us. He didn’t wait for you or me to clean up our act. He poured out his wrath on his Son, whom he loved most, so that Jesus would get the glory and you and I could be reconciled back to God.
Just like the murderers of Jesus who later heard Peter preach in Acts 2, let’s repent by turning from our sin and trusting in Jesus. I killed him, and you did, too. Let’s turn to him for forgiveness and freedom and do it from the heart. That is what Good Friday is all about at Mars Hill Church.
Good Friday services will take place on April 6 at these Mars Hill churches and times:
• Everett: 6:30 p.m.
• Shoreline: 6:30 and 8 p.m.*
• U-District: 6:30 and 8 p.m.*
• Ballard: 6, 8, and 10 p.m.*
• Sammamish: 6:30 p.m.
• Downtown Bellevue: 6 and 7:30 p.m.*
• Downtown Seattle: 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m.*
• West Seattle: 7 p.m.
• Rainier Valley: 7 p.m.
• Olympia: 7 p.m. **SPECIAL LOCATION : Minnaert Center for the Arts
• Portland: 6:30 p.m.
• Federal Way: 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.*
• Orange County: (No services)
• Albuquerque: 5 and 7:10 p.m.*
*No Children’s Ministry at this service.
**Children’s Ministry for ages 5 and under.