Sunday, March 22, 2015
Homily for Judica - The Fifth Sunday In Lent (Lent 5) - The First Sunday In Passiontide
John 8:42-59; Hebrews 9:11-15; Genesis 22:1-14
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Judica Sunday receives its name from the first words of the historic Latin antiphon to the Introit for this day, “Judge me, O God.” Now, invoking God’s judgment upon one’s self is not something a poor, miserable sinner would want to do; that is, unless that poor, miserable sinner knew already that the judgment was going to be in his or her favor. Thankfully, this is the case with you today, for God has already judged in your favor by condemning His Son in your place; He has declared Jesus guilty, and you, you He has declared innocent. Our translation of today’s antiphon to the Introit captures this subtle difference and translates the word for “judge me” as “vindicate me.” – “Vindicate me, O God.”
God judges you righteous. He vindicates you of your sin-guilt on account of His Son. This means, of course, that you had absolutely nothing to do with your vindication. Let’s face it, you were guilty; even still you sin and you merit only guilt and death. But God has vindicated you on account of Jesus’ condemnation and death for your sins, past, present, and future. You did not pay off your debt to God by your good works. You did not impress Him with your faith and piety. You did not even choose to believe in Him. But He chose you. He sacrificed Himself for you. He satisfied the blood-guilt debt of your sin and He forgave you it. He judged you innocent, paying the debt Himself, thus you are vindicated.
Do you believe this? If you do, then God is your Father. If you do not, then your father is the devil, the father of lies. For, even in this age of test-tubes, fertility drugs, surrogates, and implants, the truth remains that everyone has a father. And you did not choose your father. You were begotten, wholly apart from your will and choosing. You did not choose how tall you would be. You did not choose the color of your eyes or of your skin. You did not choose any of those fleshly things. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the flesh is guilty and condemned. That is why you must be born again of water and the Spirit. For that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. And you did not choose your Spiritual Father in your spiritual re-birth any more than you chose your fleshly father in your fleshly birth.
If God is your Father, then you will love Jesus, for Jesus was sent from the Father to be judged in your place. And Jesus has been judged, sentenced, and killed for your sin-guilt. He, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us, that, through Him, we might become the righteousness of God. But before the words of Psalm 43 are ours, those words are Jesus’ words. “Vindicate Me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!” cries Jesus. And Jesus was vindicated by the Father through His death on the cross, because He was innocent and blameless. The guilt for which He died was not His own, nevertheless, that guilt died with Him and it is gone, dead, and buried. Thus, your vindication from sin-guilt and death is because of, and in, Jesus’ vindication. Therefore, if God is your Father, then you will love Jesus, for Jesus was sent from the Father to be judged in your place. Jesus has been judged; Jesus has been vindicated – and the whole world in Him.
Some scribes and Pharisees of the Jews claimed to have God as their Father. Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.” But the scribes and the Pharisees did not love Jesus and they did not believe that He came from God but thought that He was a demon-possessed liar. Jesus said to them, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” What you believe about Jesus is living proof of who your father is. Only those born of the Holy Spirit of God believe Jesus, love Jesus, and are therefore vindicated in Jesus. It’s not a matter of choice, but a matter of birth. Jesus asks, “If I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?” and then He explains, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Mercifully, not being of God is a reversible condition. Repent, that is, be turned by the Holy Spirit of God. Stop obeying the lies and the will of your father the devil and listen to the truth of God. If you are not baptized, be born again of water and Spirit. If you are baptized, be restored to your baptismal purity. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
For God is a Father unlike Abraham, sacrificing His only begotten Son, not under compulsion, but out of love for you. And Jesus is a Son unlike Isaac whose life was spared, but who willingly laid Himself down upon the cross for you. And Jesus is a High Priest unlike any other high priest, offering up the atoning sacrifice, not of the blood of goats and calves, but of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. And the Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of true life, sent forth by the Father and the Son to create faith and to draw back in repentance those who have been turned by the devil on the road that leads to death and hell that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.
Again today we get to receive this promise of an eternal inheritance. Our Great High Priest Christ Jesus delivers it to us at this Table. Here the sacrifice our Lord freely and willingly once made upon the cross is given to us as our life. These holy gifts free us from seeking our own glory and unite us to our Lord that, with and in Him, we may always seek only the honor of the Father, who with the Son and the All-Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever!
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.