On 02 April 2021, Apostle Jeremia Joubert conducted the central AVT Good Friday divine service at Sandton congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by Community Evangelist J Wyngaard, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: The love of God (EH: 396)
Bible word: 'Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.’ (Hebrews 13:12-13)
My dear brothers and sisters, we will now listen to a Bible reading in support of the divine service.
Bible reading: Isaiah 53:3-12
Dear brothers and sisters, with the Bible reading, we were reminded of what the prophet indicated would happen somewhere in the future. At that time, when this was shared with mankind, it was not known when it will happen. Then, it happened. And now with the benefit of looking back in history, we can see how this unfolded. And today we celebrate the highlight of this amazing victory by Jesus for us as mankind. A highlight where Jesus was crucified, where through His crucifixion, He bears the responsibility for us as mankind, not only selecting a few for whom He was the sacrifice but for all mankind. That is the beauty and the grace of our heavenly Father, that God loves us. And this whole drive to reconcile with man was to allow us to be in that initial harmony that God had with mankind. If we think back to the beginning where all of this started, God's relationship with us as mankind in Adam and Eve, it was perfect harmony between God and mankind, perfect harmony between mankind, Adam and Eve, perfect harmony between mankind and nature. But then, with sin entering this equation, we find that this harmony was disrupted. But God made a promise, He will send the One who will bruise the head of the serpent. And with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, this was fulfilled. The prophet spoke about this. And Jesus fulfilled this.
And today, we gather in a celebration of the life of Jesus Christ. But we will fail if we do not recognize what led up to this moment, and how it benefits us today. That's what brings us together as fellow Christians, as those who celebrate Jesus, a life lived, a sacrifice made, and then leading up to the promise of our future. And we don't know when that promise will be fulfilled. But as God delivered on what He promised in the past, and today we celebrate that, so He will deliver on the promise of the future. We just think back to where Jesus Christ, just a few days earlier, entered Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday we celebrated the two disciples who went to collect the donkey to fulfil their calling, their task. And in it, we also have a calling. We have a task as children of God. But that was not the end of this responsibility that Jesus had. In this week, building up to that moment that we celebrate, He also brought many of His teachings. On the day before His crucifixion, during the day, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane. He had been busy preparing His disciples, those who were around Him, busy preparing them on what would take place. But for them, as with so many other people who followed Jesus, so many who knew Jesus, they were not fully ready. Dear brothers and sisters, as we also grow in our understanding of Jesus, let us also work, so that when Jesus returns, that we will be ready. On that day, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, went and He prayed to the Father; He wrestled with the Lord. He knew, He understood what His task was. He knew the gravity of this task. And it was not only the burden of the physical and the emotional challenge that He had to go through, but it was also the understanding, of this being a big responsibility. Because on Him rested the ability to reconcile us as mankind, us who are fallible, us who are sinners, us who so often turn our backs on our heavenly Father. With the sacrifice of Jesus would be our reconciliation with the Father. What an amazing gift. What an amazing responsibility. But Jesus knew the burden that came with that. And that's why He could even say ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me’. But then, so importantly for us, He said, ‘nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done’.
And then a short while after this, He was betrayed, betrayed by one from His inner circle when Judas came and he betrayed Him, and He was arrested. And so, began this ordeal for which He was preparing others, but they did not fully understand. Then it all leads up, initially with the high priest, the scribes, the elders, because they wanted to get rid of their enemy. They were threatened by what Jesus did, the teachings He brought, and in that, they couldn't take His life. If we look at the historical setting at that time, they were ruled by the Roman Empire, and as such, they had to get consent. And, as their plan later on revealed, they had to get the Roman Empire to do their bidding. So initially, they took Jesus to Pontius Pilate. And they laid their charges before him. Jesus did not deny it. Jesus did not stand up and say this is an injustice as we sometimes do when we are exposed to an injustice. We want to defend ourselves, we want to make things right, we want to depend on the law. This is what the Romans also brought, they brought the law. So, by law, they couldn't state their case. And then he said he would send Jesus to the governor, and he went to Herod, and Herod said no, Pontius Pilate, this is your responsibility. And again, with these arguments of the high priests, the scribes, the elders, eventually, it was very clear what their outcome was. So, they said no, we will rather allow that the criminal goes free. But Jesus, He must die. And so, they entered into this final phase, a phase which Jesus also wanted to prepare others for, but also that He knew this was what was going to come. So, we can see how this journey took place. It started, for this final phase, in the Garden of Gethsemane. If we look at the map of Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane was just to the north-eastern side of the city of Jerusalem. So, they had to enter into Jerusalem for Jesus to go on trial, for Him to start this persecution, for Him to start His suffering, and the betrayal by those who surrounded Him. Then, once the verdict was read, He had to lay down His life. He had to be crucified. He, who has no failures, Jesus Christ is perfect man, He is a perfect God, He has no sin. Yet, the fulfilment of this promise now came into effect, because He who is perfect had to pay a price for us who are sinners. And when we say ‘us’, it refers to those in the past, those of us who are here, and also those who will still be there until the return of Jesus Christ. And He accepted His purpose; that was part of His purpose. Then, as they went out of the city of Jerusalem, this is where our Bible word comes into effect, because He had to leave the walls, the boundaries of the city to go to Golgotha. And this was just outside of the city. In reading up on it, there are some different interpretations, and some say it is as far as four kilometres and some say it is as short a distance as 1.4 kilometres.But this journey, He had to travel - it was not an easy journey - so that He could fulfil His purpose.
Now, why did they want to crucify Him? Why did they turn their backs on Him who did nothing wrong? Some of them were motivated by Jesus' pursuit of salvation for all mankind. In that time, the law drove mankind, it drove their relationship with God, and they were not happy that all of a sudden Jesus came with this notion of salvation to everyone. And not only an elected group, not only those who were justified, not only those who were good, but all of a sudden, this was for all sinners. They were not happy because the law was about punishment, if you do something wrong, you must be punished. So, He upset their whole approach, their whole understanding. That was a threat to them. Then it was also that it was becoming very clear that to achieve salvation, you need to believe in Jesus, just that belief, that faith in Him as the Son of God. And then there were also those who felt betrayed because their expectation of this promise that they had that God would send someone was that they wanted a ruler. They were not happy being under the rule of the Roman Empire. They wanted their own king, and in Jesus, they saw that He is not coming to them as a ruler, but as a Saviour. And that contributed to Jesus Christ being persecuted, being prosecuted and being crucified. That was part of their motivation.
Now, what is the benefit for us when we consider this in what we have today? Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ comes to us, not as a ruler, Jesus Christ comes to us as a Saviour. We are fellow sinners. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes we betray our heavenly Father, sometimes we allow sin into our lives and it almost, in some way, it undoes, and it changes what God has, through His Son, made possible to us, and we move away from Him. But because of the sacrifice of Jesus, He remains a Saviour to us. Sometimes we undermine ourselves because we do not tap into this amazing gift that Jesus is for us. Sometimes we want to limit Him to just be a healer, just be a supplier, just be a source of our natural life. And then when we do this, when we look at Jesus just as this interim help, just the support, just allowing us to survive, then we fall into the trap, similar to those who were part of this crucifixion because they didn't see in Jesus, that He is the Saviour. They didn't believe in Him. They were following the rules, they were following the law. And we want to learn from this. When we look at Jesus, what we need to do to benefit fully from His sacrifice is we need to move beyond those boundaries that we may have set up in our life, boundaries where all we want from Jesus, is Jesus, I want to be healthy, Jesus, I want to have daily substance. I want to have a good job; I want to be successful. Allow Jesus to be our Saviour. When we look beyond this, then it is not only to experience justice and fairness in life but eternal life. So, my dear brothers, my dear sisters, dear friends, as we celebrate Good Friday, this is a victory for us. A victory made possible because Jesus made the sacrifice. He was willing to move outside of the boundaries of that time so that He could make us free. We will not find freedom in anything but Jesus as our Saviour, our childlike firm belief in Him and what He is busy doing for us where He is busy leading us. And then, accepting that Christ wants to give us so much more than just what we have in our life now. We are here as mere mortal, fallible human beings. But in Jesus Christ, we have the capacity to fulfil our purpose. What is our purpose? Our purpose is the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus Christ. I will go and prepare a place for you. And as Jesus said here, and He went out of the boundaries to fulfil His purpose. We are called. Move beyond your boundaries. Come to Jesus. I repeat, come to Jesus. He has paid the price. We can achieve the victory. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Jeremia Joubert
For the benefit of those who were not connected to the divine service, please find the announcements below:
The first announcement is for the information of all members across Southern Africa:
The NACTV team has compiled a survey that aims to ascertain and verify which platforms our members use to connect to the AVT divine services. During the coming weeks, your local Rector or Priest will contact you and ask you to answer this anonymous survey. Please note that the information in the completed surveys will assist us in our decisions in relation to broadcasting and expanding our reach to members.
On Sunday 4 April, Apostle Peter Lambert will conduct the central Easter divine service from Silvertown congregation. This divine service will commence at 9 am and will be made available via all current radio, television and online platforms.