Friday, April 3, 2015
Homily for Good Friday
John 18:1 – 19:42; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Quite rightly, a Good Friday homily is typically about Justification, how Jesus, in His suffering, death, and resurrection, restored us to a right relationship with God. Indeed, Good Friday is the culmination of Jesus’ fulfilling of the Law of God for all humanity, and His satisfaction in His blood of the Father’s wrath against our sin so that there is nothing left for those who trust in Jesus, but it is truly finished. But, then what? What impact does Jesus’ death and resurrection have upon your life? Does everything just continue the same as it always has? No, but, truly, the death and resurrection of Jesus has changed everything. Truly, the death and resurrection of Jesus has changed you. But, how?
In the Epistle appointed for Good Friday, St. Paul has much to say about the impact of Jesus’ death and resurrection upon your life. He says, “The love of Christ controls us.” Indeed, we heard the same from Jesus last night in the Gospel appointed for Holy Thursday, “A New Commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” However, this New Commandment is not a commandment of the Law, which Jesus has fulfilled for you, but you are to love with Jesus’ love, you are to permit Jesus’ love to fill you and to control you so that it flows out of you towards others. And, you are to do this, St. Paul continues, because “we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” What St. Paul is saying is that, Jesus has died for all, and, in Jesus, all have died: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” “Therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh,” for all are one in Christ. Rather, we regard fellow believers as brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, even members of the same body as ourselves. And, we regard everyone as one that has been reconciled to God in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Of course, not all know this or believe this, and that is why you must love one another with Christ’s love, that others will know that you are His disciples. Indeed, as you have been reconciled with God in Christ, so God has given you the ministry of reconciliation. Truly, you no longer live for yourselves, but you live for Him who, for their sake, died and was raised. Yes, through Holy Baptism and faith in Christ, you are bound up with Jesus in His death and resurrection. His death was your death, now His life is your life. But, your life in Christ is not for yourself alone, but it is for the life of the world. In this ministry of reconciliation, you serve as an ambassador for Christ, and God is making His appeal to those who do not know Him through you. The message that you proclaim to all is that God has reconciled the world and every individual in it to Himself, not counting their sins against them, in Jesus Christ. For your sake, and for the sake of every soul that will ever be, God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for you, for all, that we might become the righteousness of God.
That is what Jesus’ death and resurrection mean for you and your life in Him. It is not only that you are justified and reconciled with God in Jesus, though it is surely that, but it is that you are a new creation, having received a new life and a new purpose and a new vocation. Yes, it was the will of the LORD to crush Jesus. It was the LORD who put Him to grief so that, when He laid down His soul as an offering for your guilt, and for the guilt of the whole world, He would see His offspring, you, and all who will hear this Good News and believe and place their trust and confidence in Jesus. Behold! He has made all things new! Even you! You cannot go on as you were before. To do so is to put off the robe of Christ’s righteousness and to stand naked in your sin and guilt on your own. No, His blood must mark you. There is no other way.
Indeed, all of creation responded in sympathy with Jesus’ death for the sin and guilt of the world. The sun failed to shine. The temple curtain veiling the Holy Presence of God was torn from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split open. Tombs were opened and the blessed dead were raised from death and appeared alive to many in Jerusalem after His resurrection. All this and more was in response to the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the Word of God incarnate, by whom, and for whom the universe and everything in it was created and draws its continued existence.
On the night of His betrayal, Jesus prayed what has come to be known as his High Priestly Prayer. In that prayer Jesus confessed that the purpose of His death and resurrection was to reconcile humanity with their God and creator. Jesus prayed that they, God and His people, might be one saying, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Then Jesus prayed also for those who would become one with Him and the Father through the preaching and teaching of the Apostles, the Church, and all Christians, even you, saying, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.”
Jesus also taught His disciples the evening before His crucifixion and death saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” Truly, Jesus’ death has borne much fruit – you are the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The life you live you, you live in and to Christ, even as Christ’s life lives in you. You are His branches; He is your vine and body. You are His hands, His heart, and His mouth and voice in this world, but not of the world. Through you, others will believe in Jesus and be joined to Him. This, too, is the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh, but each and every soul is a soul for whom Jesus died that they might live and that we might all be one in Him with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.