In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
I Am the bread of life, he who comes to Me will never go hungry.
I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
I Am the door; if anyone enters through Me will be saved.
I Am the Good Shepherd.
I Am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.
I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.
I Am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.
These are the words that our Lord came preaching, these are the truths which He declared about Himself. He has come to give life and light and salvation to His people whom He loves. And yet, there He hangs, upon a cross. There He suffers. There He thirsts. There He bows His head and gives up His Spirit.
I Am is dead.
This is what John records for us in all its gory detail. “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth.” John is adamant – Jesus has died… the Roman Soldiers, the profession killers, they knew He was dead. They stabbed Him just to make sure and out seeped water and blood – already separating out. John saw. The soldiers saw. He is dead.
What to make of this then? What is to be our response to this? I Am, Christ Jesus, True God and True Man, who told us so much about Himself, who made so many great promises to us, He has died. Shall we thus despair? Shall we treat this as though it was just a fleeting dream, nice while it lasted? No, no, not at all. Listen to John again – “He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”” What we have here today in Good Friday is for you. John bears witness to it, tells you that Jesus died and fulfilled the Scriptures, the promises of the Old Testament, so that you might indeed know that His promises to you are indeed true.
Christ Jesus told you that He is the bread of life, that whoever believes in Him will never go hungry. Hunger is a sinful, fallen world sort of thing. It’s something that comes because sin has ravaged the world and left it broken, it’s something that comes because death destroys the harvest, blights come and wipe things out. Christ Jesus, I Am, had seen that – and so He came to destroy death, to destroy wickedness and lack… He Himself hungered and died so that by His death death might be undone. In chewing on Christ, death had a meal it couldn’t handle, and it is destroyed. I Am has died for you.
Christ Jesus told you that He is the light of the world, that we need not walk in darkness but have life. As He is put upon the cross, darkness comes – the sun is blotted out as Satan tries to blot out the Son of God. Know this for what it is – Christ Jesus draws all evil, all sin, all vice unto Himself, and upon the Cross in those hours of darkness, He destroys darkness. He closes His eyes in death so that when our eyes are opened in the Last day we will see only His light. His death secures that promise. I Am has died for you.
Christ Jesus has said that He is the door, that if we enter through Him we will be saved. Know what He is doing upon the Cross. Death had staked its claim on us, said we belonged to it. And we had, but Christ Jesus would not stand for it. And so, Christ Jesus took over death. He swallowed up death, robbed it over its victory. And we are attached to Christ, joined to Him in Holy Baptism. St. Paul writes, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” He is the door – and by His death not even death can separate us from Him, indeed, we have already died, we have already gone through death with Him. I Am dies so that we might live.
Christ Jesus has said that He is the Good Shepherd. Did He not tell you that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep? This is what He is doing, this is what He has done. Satan came pouncing for you, to snatch you away – and the Good Shepherd jumped in Satan’s way. I Am lays down His life for you; He lays it down so that He may take it up again and give you life.
Christ Jesus has said that He is resurrection and the life. He will prove it. Does Death still frighten you, terrify you? Then look to Christ Jesus. See, He dies… and He rises. He is the resurrection, and thus you know that the power of death is shattered, and that He is all in all. His promise to you remains – even though you die, like Christ you shall live, for He too has died and risen for you.
Christ Jesus has said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This is the way we are restored to the Father – the truth, the harsh weight of sin, it’s burden, death, all of it comes crashing down upon Christ Jesus, it nails Him to the tree, it scourges Him. Yet He Himself is life… and so when He has taken up death, yes, He will live again, live again for your sake, live so that you might live with Him, live so that you might dwell in the mansion of the Father to which He brings you.
Christ Jesus has said that He is the Vine, that you are His branches. We heard last night that a branch that is pruned bears much fruit. Christ Jesus takes up in Himself the full brunt of that pruning, so that He might bear fruit in you, so that you might blossom and grow to life everlasting. He suffers all so that you might grow and have life, that your joy may be complete.
John saw it. He heard our Lord cry out “It is finished.” All the work needed to be done to win you salvation, all the righteousness that needed to be fulfilled, all the struggle against Satan and his kingdom – it is done. Finished. Put to an end by Christ. And having done what is needed, Christ dies, so that His promises to you might take effect. This is for your good, your good now, your good even unto life everlasting. And this is why John is so adamant that he saw Jesus die. I Am has died for you, has given His own life for you – what more would be needed? What could possibly have been left undone? What burden would be left to you? None – your salvation is won by this Christ the Crucified – and in Him you have life. He has died, but His promises hold true – and all that remains is for the day of joy to break forth where we see this in full. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. In the Name of Christ the Crucified +