Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday Homily

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12   (Audio)

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

Christian artistry, from iconography to stained glass, from statuary to jewelry, has long been a teacher of the Church’s faith and a preserver of that faith throughout the centuries from generation to generation. I personally enjoy going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or to St. Patrick’s Cathedral or to any number of churches, seminaries, and museums to observe how a sacred artist has painstakingly crafted the tiniest of details into his work to capture the theological confession of a biblical story, or a scene from the life of Jesus, or a sublime truth about the nature of God and man. Christian musicians, likewise, have been known to do the same in their compositions as many of the visual artists. Johann Sebastian Bach, for example, placed a rhythmic emphasis on the third, off-beat eighth in each bar of his Pentecost chorale “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” emphasizing the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The precise attention to detail in such artistic works is the artist’s confession of the faith that they have received which they have in turn gifted to the Church of Christ in works of sacred art.

One of my favorite sacred works of art, typically found in iconography and jewelry, is the Trinitarian Crucifix. This crucifix features the crucified corpus, or body, of our Lord Jesus on the cross. What is unique about the Trinitarian Crucifix, however is that a figure of God the Father is typically depicted as holding up His Son upon the cross with God the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descending upon the Son from the Father. What is conveyed in this depiction is that Jesus’ crucifixion and death is the work of the entire Holy Trinity. God the Father sent His Son to die. God the Son obeyed the Father and willingly laid down His life. God the Holy Spirit is sent forth by the Father and the Son to birth the Church. The Church has at all times and in all places confessed that when any one Person of the Holy Trinity is acting, the entire Holy Trinity is acting. As the Son of God died on the cross, so God died on the cross for the sins of the world.

A similar depiction appears on the bulletin cover in your hand. As Jesus’ crucified body hangs upon the cross, we see four simultaneous actions taking place. The left hand of the Father bears the sacrificial knife that would slay His Son even while the Father holds in His right hand the crown of victory that He will place upon Jesus’ head. Also, a hand above Jesus’ head holds the key that unlocks heaven because of Jesus’ sacrificial death, while a hand at Jesus’ feet brings a hammer down upon a skull depicting that Jesus, in His death, destroyed the power of death that enslaved Adam and all his descendants. Indeed, a picture says a thousand words.

Images such as these serve to remind us that it was the Father’s will to crush Jesus. He who spared Abraham’s only-begotten son did not withhold the knife and the fire from His own only-begotten Son. The Father wounded and crushed Jesus for our iniquities so that by His stripes we are healed. Jesus, Himself, acknowledged that this was so in His testimony before Pilate saying that Pilate’s authority to crucify Him was given him by Jesus’ Father in heaven. The Father said “Go, my Son,” the Son replied “Your will be done, my Father.” He was led, like a lamb to the slaughter, and He opened not His mouth. As there is Unity in Trinity, so there is Trinity in Unity.

For, the will of God is one, shared by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Where the first Adam chose to follow his own will and plunged the world into sin and death, the Second Adam subordinated His will to the will of His Father, saying “Not as I will, but as You will.” And this is love, and obedience, and honor, all wrapped up into one commandment and one will of the Holy Trinity, love. God is love. The Son of God loved the Father perfectly, subordinating Himself to His will, obeying His commands; and the Son of God loved you perfectly, laying down His life in death for the life of the world.

Therefore, as the preacher to the Hebrews proclaims, Jesus is our Great High Priest, the anointed intercessor between God and man, and He offers up the perfect sacrifice, not of the blood of bulls and goats, but of His own sinless and holy blood. He is our priest and He is also the sacrificial victim. God the Father willed His Son to die. God the Son willingly laid down His life in death. And the God the Holy Spirit was breathed out by the Father, through the Son, for the life of the world.

Underneath the wounds and the stripes and the agonizing cries of Good Friday, God’s will is being done for us on earth as it is in heaven. God’s will for us is that we shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. No greater work can be done for us than Jesus Christ dying on the cross. The debt of sin is consummated today for you. Believe it for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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