quod pro nobis traditum est

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Good Friday Homily

John 19 - 6 April 2007

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In recording the events of the Passion of Our Lord, St. John repeats the Scripture that says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." This One the soldier pierced with a sword in the side because He was already dead and there was no need to break His legs. "Immediately blood and water came out." Like the other Evangelists, John writes these events of the death of Christ Jesus even in their gruesome detail adding, "And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe." The faith which is handed down and received by divine revelation is that Jesus died on the cross. This faith handed down and received in the Church is also the fulfillment of Scripture which states that this One, Jesus of Nazareth, "is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted." (Is. 53) This afternoon we sang,

"How pale Thou art with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy face now languish
That once was bright as morn!
Grim death with cruel rigor,
Hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor,
Thy strength, in this sad strife." (LSB 450:2)

Certainly, this is the case, for He is, on the one hand, "King of the Jews" and on the other hand, innocent of all sin, and yet He is sentenced to death and crucified. This is what we cannot bear to see of a King, such suffering and death. So we hide our faces from Him as Adam and Eve hid naked in the garden from the eyes of God. God saw them in their sinfulness and sent His Son. Now His Son's glory is hidden from us and covered with our sin, "for He shall bear their iniquities" and "by His stripes we are healed."

As Jesus predicted, "The Son of Man must be lifted up." (Jn. 12) The death of Christ among robbers is at the center of man's relationship with God, "who has reconciled us to Himself." (2 Cor. 5) If He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. So this is the hour of glory that Jesus predicted and it means that "they shall look on Him whom they pierced." If this event did not take place then nothing is finished and we are still without saving knowledge of God. Jesus on the cross shows us the very mercy and goodness of God toward us. He bears our sin and we are declared clean. The water and blood make this so. The water and blood from His side continue to wash people of their sins as they flow from the cross. Without them there is only death, not His, but ours. Yet He died so that we may live and have life to the full. Though rich He became poor for our sakes that we may become rich in Him. Thomas puts his finger in Jesus' side and believes.

"They shall look on Him whom they pierced." Although Jesus' hour of glory is not seen by the world, this does not mean He has not come down and given us witness of the truth. "This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one." (1 John 5). "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints." ("In Christ", p. 6)

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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