How Jesus Failed on Good Friday

Makes You Wonder Resources

How Jesus Failed

by Ian Robinson

Many people, some of us, even some so-called theologians , suspect that Jesus was a failure. They say, his capture and cruel death was a failure that the early followers tried to turn into something good, hence the name Good Friday. But they could not be more upside down in their thinking. In today’s Good Friday service, we will do something a bit different. We are going to listen to some of the mocking voices at Jesus. Hear what they said against Him. Two things come of this – 1. in their words maybe we will hear ourselves. 2. But there is another flow of thought in the opposite direction. In Jesus’ apparent failure, God was achieving something – something as strong as our salvation.

Mk 15.1-5 – Ian R


‘Are you the King of the Jews?’, asked Pontius Pilate. Did he really want to know, or was he hurling out one of those sick jokes that come up among soldiers? He could not see a man with an army. The joke shows Jesus holding on to no privilege or rank. His followers, all disappeared by now, are all ordinary folks and broken people. Is he going to rule the world with that lot? Pilate thinks a king would gather to himself unanswerable power, but Jesus does not really give him much of an answer. Political failure? Today, the lasting truth is that Pilate is gone and the Risen Jesus rules a billion souls. We broken souls have been the bearers of the news of real glory.

Refrain Response: He seems to be a failure,

yet somehow he knew

The truth about us.

Mk 15.12-15 – Ian R


“Crucify Him!” they shouted, all the louder. They knew what they were asking, bloody death by excruciating torture. Not a great audience response for Jesus. He has been voted off. But it was due to a kind of envy, the story says. Envy is the currency of all marketing. I sometimes think:Can the advertisers make us want what we do not need? We start to think habitually about everything and everybody: What can we get out of this? We have ulterior motives for everyone. That’s this kind of Envy. We humans want so much, we have so much, we crave for more and we hunger for things and experiences, prestige and securities – all unattainable in the work of one lifetime, unless someone else pays for us. So, in the corridors of power, we make systems and rules that make us into the winning side, we take most of the big fish and the resources. Our rules simultaneously make millions poor, that is, bring children to an early death. In a nutshell, this envy is the cause of all the sufferings. In the name of justice, someone will have to pay. To stop it all, Jesus will pay for our sins today.

Refrain Response: He seems to be a failure,

yet somehow he knew

The truth about us.

Mk 15.29-32 – Ian R


‘He said he would rebuild the temple in three days, ‘. They scoffed at him, ‘Ay, that’s a good one. You said you saved others, now Save yourself!’ So the mockery went as people passed the crosses along the road nearby. These people who take such supreme pride in this magnificent temple of King Herod, built under cruel taxation, were the collaborators in the spoiling of the people. Like the prophets Isaiah and Micah before him, Jesus’ faith is not about magnificent ritual. In history, we have built such regal blasphemies in God’s name. Somehow though, the accusers had heard his promises – to surpass it all. In three days Jesus did raise up a different way of life. So, for our sake, upon this Friday, upon this cross, he will not save himself. For he has pledged himself to save us. It is not the nails that hold him to the cross, it is love.

Refrain Response: He seems to be a failure,

yet somehow he knew

The truth about us.

Let us consider in silence that your name and my name was before him on this very day.

Silence with instrumental music

Mk 15.33-37


The last cry uttered against God this day, comes from Jesus himself. ‘My God my God why have you forsaken me. Or in his Galilean accent, words burned unforgettably in their brains, Eloi eloi lama sabachthnai’. They never heardJesus say anything remotely like that before, for he simply loved his Heavenly Dad, called him ‘abba’. But has Jesus’ intimacy with the Father failed at last? The most precious intimacy in the entire universe, is it as shredded as it sounds? Sin and darkness have taken their toll on his heart, bitterness has crowded around his exhausted mind. All our alienation from God, all our stubborn pride, all the hubris that nails terror into human souls is numbing Jesus’ spirit to death. And yet, and yet, he speaks to his father. He is not silent in his darkness. Even the bitterness he shares with Abba. This Love can carry even this pain, All the pain we get, all the pain we give. The people standing near him dont get it, they think its about Elijah or deliverance or something. Their lives roll on, ying and yang, day in day out. But the unthinkable good news from this failure at the cross is: God listens to laments, and Love wins. When our hearts are breaking, that’s how the light gets in. So, desire this Love above all else.

Refrain Response: He seems to be a failure,

yet somehow he knew

The truth about us.

Friends, we are drawing this time together to a close. Turn your mobiles to 3pm and set the alarm for the hour Jesus died. This afternoon you can recall this service and stop a moment.

We have seen in the words of torture, mockery and apparent failure the uniqueness of Jesus’ light, his love, his power, his payment for all human horrors and hubris. Now, what does it mean, the Book of Romans says, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. You and I are freed of wrath, of darkness, of selfishness, of sin, both its power and its penalty. Jesus’ victory is confirmed when we gather here on joyous Easter morning. Let us not be spectators, mouthers of words, who repeat the cruel and casual apathy of the first Good Friday. Let us make an offering of ourselves to God.


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