Friday, April 03, 2015

Sermon: Good Friday – 2015

2 April 2015

Text: John 18:1-19:42 (Isa 52:13-53:14, 1 Cor 5:14-21)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Dear friends, the world is broken.  We all know it.  The news is almost all bad, having to do with terrorism, or crime, or injustice, or someone dying.  In our own lives, how much time, attention, and money go toward trying to fix the brokenness, trying to heal sicknesses, trying to kill pain, trying to forestall death and its effects?

All religions and philosophies of the world try to make sense of it all, to explain it, and to come up with a remedy.  In modern times, many people reject all religions and look to humanity or philosophy or technology to provide the answers.

Some focus on ecological brokenness, some look at injustice in society, some see mainly moral and ethical decay, while others focus on the big philosophical questions as to why some prosper in wickedness while innocents suffer.  Depression seems to be more common, as is bullying, as is uncaring, as is disrespect, as is lack of commitment, and all the while, ignorance and stupidity seem to be on the rise.

We live in what Pope John Paul II called a culture of death, and as part of that, we live in a culture of celebrated thuggery, of coldhearted selfishness, of an indifference to life, and of a revulsion of all that is good and holy.

Some look at this mess and they blame God.  But God did not make the mess, we did.  God made a perfect world.  He created mankind with a mind, with the ability to make choices.  And as any person of any age knows, choices have consequences.  Our deviation from the that which God set up is known as “sin,” and as St. Paul teaches us in Holy Scripture, the wages of sin is death.

Everything you see around you is death.  It just takes a while to get there.  Violence leads to death.  Aging leads to death.  Disease leads to death.  Crime leads to death.  Immorality leads to death.  Death is not so much a punishment for sin, it is the result of sin.  It is a result of our choices.  We die, because we have chosen death.  Every living creature is destined for death.

We did this, not God.  And yet some people blame God.  The most curious situation of all is the person who in one breath claims to be an Atheist, but in the next breath expresses anger with God because the world is broken.

But God is not to blame, we are, we poor miserable sinners.  There is not a one of us who is not part of the problem.  And in spite of it all, God loves us and provides a fix.  Yes, dear friends, God loves us and provides a fix.  In order to overcome our death, He must die at our hands.  In order to overcome our hatred, He must be hated by us.  In order to overcome our injustice, He must suffer injustice from us.  In order to overcome our burdensome cross of this age, He must be crucified by us in this age.  In order for our debt of sin to be paid, He must pay it for us sinners.

This is why we call this day “Good Friday.”  Today is a day of sadness as we contemplate the Lord’s suffering and death, but it is a day of joy as we also contemplate the Lord’s victory over sin and the grave, for us men and for our salvation.  With melancholy, we ponder the holy wounds of Christ, but we also cheer the mortal wound to the serpent.  

Good Friday calls to mind the creation, in which God, by means of the Word (the very same Word who became flesh), created the universe and called everything “good.”  All was good because there was no death and no corruption, because there was no sin.  The first Good Friday was the sixth day of creation, in which God created man.  On the Good Friday of the crucifixion of our Lord, God, in human flesh, dies our death to reclaim the goodness of the creation that was made through Him.

And even as the first Good Friday, when the man and the woman were created, so also on the Good Friday of the crucifixion, men and women were redeemed and re-created and made good once more.

This is the meaning of the Lord’s declaration: “It is finished.”  He said this single Greek word of victory as He “gave up His spirit,” offering Himself up to death so that we might be offered again the gift of life.

“It is finished,” dear friends!  Sin is finished.  Death is finished.  The devil is finished.  The doom to which all creation had been consigned because of sin is finished.  Our hopelessness is finished. 

God’s creation has been made complete in Christ, in the cross, in the sacrifice of the one man of our race who was without blemish.  It was all finished in the shedding of the blood of Jesus: “God, begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages” and “man, born from the substance of His mother in this age.”

It took God to reset everything to “good,” it took a man to die to pay the debt.  It took God to forgive, and it took a man to be the sacrifice.

It took God to love and man to be beloved of God.  And dear friends, because of Good Friday, we are no longer enemies of God.  Because of the death of His only begotten Son, all of us adopted sons and daughters through Him by grace, through faith, in the waters of baptism, have been born again, created a second time, with the ravages of sin and death rolled back.

And so, dear friends, we wait for our king to return.  Just as His first coming was promised and prophesied hundreds of years BC, even in great detail as in our Old Testament reading from Isaiah, our Lord’s return to consummate the effects of Good Friday is indeed yet to come in a very specific year AD.  And though we don’t know when, we do know that it is a “when” and not an “if.”

For just as surely as Jesus’ bloodied and lifeless body was taken down from the cross and laid into a borrowed grave on Good Friday, His glorious and perfect eternal body blasted from that same tomb, rendering all Christian graves as borrowed, temporary waiting rooms – and this reality of His resurrection was discovered on a Good Sunday, a Very Good Sunday, Easter Sunday.

And even though we still live in the temporary home, we await a good new heaven and a good new earth, a very good eternity won for us by the Lord on that Good Friday of His death on the cross.

Dear friends, the world is broken.  But the fix is in.  The solution is not found in our own will power, in technology, in government, in a pill or genetic alteration, in a philosophy or in a fruitless hope that human beings are evolving to a higher plane of existence.  The solution to the world’s brokenness is found on the cross: in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, “the Lamb of God that takest away the sin of the world,” the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Word made flesh, who created mankind on a good Friday, and who as a man redeemed mankind on “the” Good Friday.

By His good life, and yes, His good death on that Good Friday, we Christians live in a renewed hope of life: abundant life, eternal life, Easter life, redeemed life, forgiven life: good life!  Now and even unto eternity.  Amen.

Hison the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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