Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Good Friday + April 19, 2019
Text: John 18-19
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Jesus is dead. This was everything His enemies wanted. This is everything that God wanted. “It is finished.” This is what Lent has been leading up to—the Son of God, hanging lifeless on the tree of the cross.
Another tree brought this all about—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Our ancestors brought sin and death into the world by disobeying God’s one simple command. Along with their disobedience, they passed this evil down to their descendants so that every single last human being is well-acquainted with evil and only knows a fleeting shadow of good.
We have every right to be angry with Adam and Eve for what they did. It’s your fault things are this way. It’s your fault that wars break out. It’s your fault that children die. It’s your fault that injustice and corruption are rampant. But even as we judge and condemn them, our own sin gets in the way. Even the wildest rage of anger is just despair dressed up in different clothes. Both of them are a confession of hopelessness, a resignation that even the highest powers of heaven can’t repair what was broken. This will not do.
As we hear the Passion of Our Lord—the heartlessness of Judas, the sleepiness and the cowardice of the disciples, the mockery and condemnation of an innocent man—it’s maddening to hear that they got away with it. But we are no better. If we had been there, we would have done evil too. We would have rejected the Christ, because “it was the will of the Lord to crush him.” (Isa. 53:10)
None of us is able to master and conquer our sinful, dying condition. Adam died, along with all his descendants—Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalel, Jared—all died. Your ancestors have all died, or will die soon. One day soon, you will die, too.
But, Jesus died, and that was the thing that turned everything around. It is He who “accomplished the salvation of mankind by the tree of the cross that, where death arose, there life also might rise again and that the serpent who overcame by the tree of the garden might likewise by the tree of the cross be overcome.” “It is finished” He said as He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit: All that needed to be done to overturn the reign of sin and the power of death.
The evangelist points out that these things were done to fulfill the Scriptures. Jesus died that the Scriptures might be fulfilled which say: “He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6-9) and “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27) and “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus died and now death is finished. Sin is atoned for. You who believe in Him have overcome sin and death. Jesus died, but you will live eternally. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.