Good Friday Bible Study

This Good Friday Bible Study explores the Scriptures in light of what happened on the day Jesus Christ was crucified.  By the way, we could debate that Jesus died on a particular day of the week but that's a distraction from the true value of his sacrifice.  His crucifixion seems to signal the end as Jesus, an innocent man, is tried before Pilate; but it ends with the beginning of new life in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

This Bible study answers four questions:

  1. Did Jesus Christ really exist?
  2. Who was Jesus Christ?
  3. Why did He have to die?
  4. What's the big deal or what does this mean for me?

See what the Bible says about this because it's important for every person that has ever lived.  This is the story of your life and the only story that gives you the promise of hope for eternity.

The Bible was written in another time but yet it's timeless.  The Bible was written to another people with a different culture, yet it applies to all people who will ever, or have ever, lived.  

So it's important for us to understand the greatest story in the history of the world and in the life of every person, including you.

3 Crosses

First Question for Good Friday Bible Study

- Did Jesus Christ Really Exist?

To answer this first question of this Good Friday Bible Study we turn to the landmark work of Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. It notes the abundance of secular or pagan sources that document the reality of the life of Jesus Christ.  

These sources are regarded as very credible because they were hostile to Jesus and therefore had nothing to gain by citing his life or existence.  Here they are:

Secular sources for the existence of Jesus Christ

  • Cornelius Tacitus - the greatest Roman historian from the first century provides independent and conclusive proof that Jesus Christ lived and was formally executed during the time of the Roman emperor Tiberius under the authority of Pilate, procurator of Judea. 
  • Lucien of Samosata - the Greek satirist of the second century spoke disparaging of the Christians who worshiped a crucified sage instead of the Greek gods. 
  • Suetonios - the Roman historian who recounted the persecution of Christians who died for their conviction in the belief that Jesus Christ really did live, die and rose again from the dead.  
  • Pliny the Younger - the Governor of Bithynia around 120 A.D. who explained to the Emperor Trajan that he was killing the Christians who would not renounce their faith in Jesus Christ and worship Trajan instead.
  • Mara Bar-Seapion - the Syrian philosopher who wrote to his son and compared Jesus to the philosophers Socrates and Pythagoras.
  • Thallus and Phlegon - ancient historians and writers who documented the darkness when Jesus was crucified explaining that the event was widely known and required an explanation.
  • The Babylonian Talmud - relates how the Jews crucified Yeshu the Nazarene on the eve of Passover.

The Bible also testifies to the crucifixion; moreover, the Bible itself offers the most compelling and convincing evidence of the crucifixion.

Clearly, there's ample evidence in addition to the Bible that Jesus Christ was a real person and a historical figure; but what was His ministry about?  Who was He and what did He do that he deserved to die?  

Let's explore the answers to those questions in this Good Friday Bible Study. 

Second Question for Good Friday Bible Study 

Who was Jesus Christ?

First of all, Jesus Christ is still alive and has always existed; so we should really rephrase this second question for the Good Friday Bible Study here to: 

"Who Is Jesus Christ?"

As Professor Darrel Bock noted:  "In the beginning there was Jesus, and without Him there would be no Gospel . . . no explanation for the existence of the church".  

More on why this is an important question:

The most critical issue of the Christian faith is the identity of Jesus of Nazareth.  Christianity stands or falls on who Jesus Christ is.  What He said, did, or taught are important, but they are not foundational.  Jesus’ identity is.  He is more than just the founder of Christianity; He is Christianity.  If you substitute anyone else for Jesus—the greatest Christian theologian or the most beloved pastor or the wisest teacher, take your pick—Christianity would collapse.

Story, D. (1997). Defending your faith (pp. 74–75). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

So What Did Jesus Claim About Himself?

To answer the question "Who is Jesus Christ?" - let's first see what Jesus said about Himself.  The Case for Christ Study Bible notes that Jesus made about two dozen different claims about Himself.  

Nine of those claims are directly related to who Jesus said He was.

Jesus Said He Was:

  1. Lord  -  Matthew 7:21-24
  2. the future judge of the world  -  Matthew 25:31-32
  3. Lord of the Sabbath  -  Mark 2:27
  4. the bread of life  -  John 6:47-51
  5. the light of the world  -  John 8:12
  6. the gate for God's sheep  -  John 10:7-10
  7. the good shepherd  -  John 10:11-16
  8. the only path to God  -  John 14:6
  9. the vine & those that followed Him were His branches  -  John 15:5-7
John 17:3
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Jesus Christ - A Man Sent By His Father

Jesus came from God the Father and He explained this over and over again.  He constantly pointed to God the Father.  There are 39 different verses in the Gospel of John where Jesus Himself declares that he was sent by God.  

He says it over and over again because it was important for the Jews to know that He was the One they had been waiting for.  Before you continue this Good Friday Bible Study you may want to look at these examples from the Gospel of John where He points back to God as the one who sent Him.

Jesus' Work Was Determined By Who Sent Him

Jesus says in these verses from the Gospel of John that God sent Him to:

  •  save the world from their sin (3:17)
  • finish God's work (4:34)
  • teach people about God (7:16)
  • be on earth only for a short while, then He would return to heaven (7:33)
  • judge together with God (8:16)
  • do God's work (9:4)

Jesus' Purpose Was Related to Who Sent Him

In these examples from the Gospel of John, Jesus explains His purpose is related to who sent Him:

  • Jesus does nothing on His own but does the will of the Father (5:30; 12:49; & 14:24)
  • God testifies about Jesus (5:37 & 8:18)
  • Jesus came not to do His will but the Father's will (6:38)
  • Jesus did not come to earth on His own - God sent Him (7:28-29; 8:42 & 17:4)
  • Jesus told the world what He heard from the Father (8:26)
  • God was always with Jesus because He always pleased God (8:29)
  • He who sees and believes in Jesus sees and believes in God (12:44-45)
  • He who receives Jesus receives the One who sent Him (13:20)

The Benefits Provided to Those to Whom Jesus was Sent

In these examples, Jesus points to God also as the One who sent Him.   He also explains the following benefits for those who believe that truth:

  • eternal life and escape from judgement (5:24)
  • resurrection at the last day (6:39, 43)
  • eternal life (6:57-58)
  • that God will love them (16:27)

What Jesus Christ Said About Himself is a Very Big Deal

If you learn nothing else from this Good Friday Bible Study, please understand this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to save the world from sin (John 3:17).  Before He raised Lazarus from the dead He prayed out loud so that the mourning crowd around Him could hear Him and believe that God had sent Jesus (John 11:42). 

John explains that Jesus knew that He came from God and that He would return to God (John 13:3; 16:5).  Jesus explained that after He left, some would persecute His followers because they did not know God was - who had sent Jesus (John 15:21).  Jesus also explained that those who did believe in Him knew for certain that He came from God (17:8).

Finally, Jesus prays that His followers who know that God sent Him (17:25) and that they be united so that they will know that God has sent Jesus (John 17:23). After His resurrection Jesus commands His followers and sends them just as God the Father had sent Him (John 19:21).

What Was Prophesied About Jesus in the Old Testament?

What Jesus said about Himself had deep roots in the Old Testament scriptures. It should have been abundantly clear to the Jewish men and women of Jesus' day who knew the Old Testament Scriptures that what Jesus said about Himself indicated that he was the promised Messiah. 

Perhaps the best evidence of who Jesus was (is) can be seen in the fulfilled prophecies regarding His death.  The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary lists 125 different prophecies from Old Testament scriptures about Jesus that are fulfilled in our New Testament scriptures.  

Before you move on in this Good Friday Bible Study you may want to check out twenty five of these prophecies from the Old Testament predicted things related to His death.  So with the advantage of hindsight we can see the truth of God's promise to send His Anointed One - the Christ - in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

So, Who is Jesus Christ?

It's often been said that there are only three possible alternatives to identify who Jesus Christ is:

  • First - He was a liar.
  • Second - He was a lunatic.
  • Third - He was who He said He was.

Because of these prophecies written long before His birth, and because of their being fulfilled, we can confidently conclude that Jesus Christ is who He said He was - the Promised One, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, and truly the Savior of the whole world.  

Third Question for Good Friday Bible Study

Why Did Jesus Christ have to die?

So far we've concluded that Jesus Christ existed and that he died.   This leads to the third question of this Good Friday Bible Study: "Why did Jesus Christ have to die?"  To answer this question we'll need to review what the Bible says about it.

What Jesus Said About His Death

Jesus spoke of His death many times because He always knew it was coming.  When Jesus spoke of His impending death, he indicated that it must happen.  

In the following verses the Greek verb dei translated 'must'.  The sense of the Greek verb indicates that Jesus' death is something that has been "unavoidably determined by prior circumstances". 

  • Matt 16:21
  • Mark 8:31
  • Luke 9:22; 24:7

In fact Jesus declared that no man could actually take His life from Him but that He willingly laid down His life because He was doing the Father's will (John 10:11,17-18). 

Why Did God Want Jesus to Die?

Perhaps this truth that Jesus had to die is the most difficult thing to understand in this Good Friday Bible study, but it's the most important thing at this point in this Bible study lesson.

From the human perspective Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the Chief Priest.  They in turn handed Him over to Pilate, who turned Him over to the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus.  But that's not how Jesus and His Father saw the crucifixion.

As noted in the prophecies in the Old Testament, this crucifixion was God's plan long before the Roman soldiers, Pilate, and the Chief Priests were even born.  The Apostle Peter understood this and explained it in his famous sermon on the Day of Pentecost.

Peter explained that Jesus was delivered up "according to God's determined plan and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23) because it was predestined by God (Acts 4:28).  In his first letter, Peter describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who was chosen by God even before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20).

That's right Jesus was God's lamb, God's sacrifice.

Just as the Jews offered a lamb in sacrifice for their sins, God offered His only Son - Jesus Christ - as the sacrifice for the sins of humanity.  He was a perfect lamb and was sacrificed during the Passover Feast not by humans but for humans.

Fourth Question for Good Friday Bible Study 

- What Does this Mean to Me?

Who you you believe Jesus Christ is?  This question is NOT the most important question you will ever answer.  What will you DO with the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God?  

This is the most important question in your entire life. 

Even the devil himself knows who Jesus is.  He unsuccessfully tried to get Jesus to deny it  when he challenges Jesus with the phrase "if you are the Son of God" (Matt 4:1-11).  

Craig Blomburg points this out in the New American Commentary where he states: 

"The first-class conditional clause, “If you are the Son of God,” does not imply any doubt on the devil’s part (cf. Jas 2:19).  Rather, what is in doubt is what type of Son Jesus will be."

The same sort of thing can be said about you and I.  What type of person will we be?  Will we not just believe that Jesus was who He said He was, but will we be followers of Jesus also?

If you know and recognize Jesus as the Son of God, don't be like the devil and choose not to follow Him.  Be like those who have not only believed in Him but choose to follow Him.  

Good Friday Bible Study Truth

Even the demons know who Jesus is.

We see this from these Scriptures:

- Mark 3:11, 5:7

- Luke 8:28, 4:41 

- James 2:19 

The most important question for you to answer is what you will do with your life when presented with the opportunity to:

  • recognize Jesus as the Son of God
  • repent or turn from your sins
  • choose to follow Jesus as Lord of your life

This decision will determine your eternal destiny.  If you have yet to make a decision please make it today.  

References used to develop this Good Friday Bible study:

  • The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009.
  • Bock, Darrell L. Luke 9:51-24:53, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996.
  • Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.
  • Keener, Craig S. Matthew, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
  • Kostenberger, Andreas J. John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.
  • Lust, Johan, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie. A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart, 2003.
  • Martin, R. P. (2003). Messiah. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1111). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  • McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson. 1999.
  • Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2010.
  • Ridderbos, Herman N. The Gospel of John, A Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1997. 
  • Story, Dan. Defending Your Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997.
  • Strobel, Lee. Gen Ed. The Case for Christ Study Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.
  • Stott, John, R.W. The Cross of Christ, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

We pray this Good Friday Bible Study has blessed you.  You can comment on this Good Friday Bible Study below if you like. 

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