Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Sermon -- John 19:17-18 (LSB Good Friday)

April 2, 2010 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran ChurchMechanicsburg, PA

“So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.”

Jesus is crucified among sinners. So it was prophesied by the Psalmist: “For dogs encompass Me; a company of evildoers encircles Me. . . .” The dogs of Rome stand at the bottom of the cross, their work of crucifixion reaching its conclusion. The Sadducees who no longer believed in the promises of sacrifices see the true High Priest offering Himself for the life of the world. The Pharisees who abandoned the Lord God’s Word see the Word of God Incarante dying in front of them. But “the dogs” and “the company of evildoers” include more than the pagan soldiers and the members of the Sanhedrin who watched. There were even more. “The dogs” and “the company of evildoers” also include those who hanged on either side of Jesus. Two robbers are crucified with Jesus, just as the Evangelist says: “There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.”

Yet this was not simply the fulfillment of the psalm. Certainly, the prophecy is completed in Jesus’ crucifixion. But what Jesus undergoes on Mount Calvary is what He had undergone from the very moment of His conception. Jesus’ fate was to be crucified among sinners, but every day of His earthly life was spent in the company of evildoers. This is what the Incarnate Son of God witnessed every day. He was full of grace and truth, but the people He encountered were full of malice and lies.

That is the world into which the Son of God came. And yet, that is what His Father desired. His will was that the Christ would bring grace and truth to a condemned world. His will was that His Son would become part of the fallen creation in order to redeem it. Being in the presence of sin and sinners, the Christ faces rejection: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” The Evangelist whose Passion Account was read puts it this way in his Prologue: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”

But not only is Jesus crucified among sinners, He is crucified among their sins. Their guilt hangs around His neck; their burden is put on His shoulders. For this is what had been spoken about Him: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” What had been spoken about Jesus is fulfilled in His death, even in His burial: “And they made His grave with the wicked and with the rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth.”

So Jesus is crucified among sinners. But it had to be so. For there is nothing but sin in this world, and the only thing that could bring salvation to this world was the death of a righteous man. This is what the prophet declares: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.”

Jesus is crucified among sinners. But know this: it is for you and your benefit. But not only is it for you, Jesus is crucified among sinners, because He is crucified with you. For when you were baptized, you were crucified with Him. Jesus was surrounded in crucifixion by pagan soldiers, apostate religious leaders, and convicted criminals. But even more so, Jesus was surrounded by your profanity, your faithlessness, your immorality. He is crucified in your sins. His grace and truth is found among your malice and lies. Your guilt and burden is hung around His neck.

That is the great message of this day. For as His dying has made a mockery out of death and a victim out of Satan, Christ has earned the spoils. By the tree of the cross, where death arose, there life also might rise again. The serpent who overcame by the tree of the garden has by the tree of the cross been overcome. Since you were crucified with Christ, you also are raised with Him. The words of the apostle are true: “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.” That hearing includes the raising of the Crucified Christ from death.

And so the prophecy about the Crucified and Risen Christ is spoken for your benefit: “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” His soul was poured out to death for you. He was numbered with you and your sins. Jesus was crucified with you. But the Scriptures also say: “Being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” So Christ is the source of your eternal salvation. You have a portion of what Christ has earned for you. The spoils of His death are divided with you.

“They took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.” They sent Jesus out bearing His own cross, and so they sent Him out bearing your cross. They crucified Jesus, and so they also crucified you. They laid Jesus in the tomb, and so they also buried you. For baptized into Christ, you are baptized into His death. But as Jesus has risen from the dead, so you shall rise into the newness of everlasting life.

T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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