Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Sermon

Good Friday, 2014 – The Passion according to John, the 7th Petition

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
          But deliver us from evil.  This you have just heard your Lord do when you heard His passion.  When we talk about “evil”, we aren’t speaking about anything abstract, we aren’t speaking against just some vague idea in some sort of mamby-pamby way.  No, we have the Scriptures, we been given by the Spirit the ability to see things as they are, we will call a thing what it is.  There is evil.  Sin is evil.  This fallen world is full of evil.  Death is evil.  None of it is right, none of it is good anymore.  The good that I want to do I do not do, the wickedness that I do not want to do I do – who will save me from the body of death, who will save me as all of creation groans as in travail, with earthquakes and tempests and lightnings - literally the world is tearing itself apart – that evil, who will save, who will deliver us from that evil?

          Christ Jesus rises from prayer, and evil comes to seek Him.  Betrayed by His friend, set to be handed over to wicked kings and spineless judges who will heed not the law but their own ambitions and an angry mob.  Evil comes for Christ Jesus, and so that we would be delivered from it, He faces it.  Whom do you seek, Evil, do you seek Jesus of Nazareth?  Well, I AM He… and evil recoils.  He must tell them again – I am He, I am Jesus of Nazareth, I have come to be handed over to evil, “so if you seek Me, let these men go.”  Let these men be delivered from evil – for I, Christ Jesus will give Evil more than it can handle.  No Peter, put down your sword – I am not going to consign you to a life of violent evil – I will drink this cup of woe and wickedness down to the dregs, and you will be delivered from evil.

          And Christ goes.  He is taken away, bound by the tyranny of evil men.  And even before His sacrifice for His friends begins in earnest – His friends deny Him.  Peter, in the courtyard, I swear that I don’t know the man.  John hanging silent in the shadows, watching but saying nothing – the others have run for the hills, run for their lives.  They didn’t quite think that Jesus really would get them out of this.  So much doubt and fear around Him, and yet onward He presses.  The fears and failures of the disciples don’t dissuade Him – indeed, your failings don’t cause Him a moment’s pause. That is why He is there.  He knows you are weak, He knows that you cannot fend off evil, and so He will be strong for you.  And His strength is shown as He goes unto His passion.

          Various muckety-mucks of the Jews examine Him – not to seek the truth, but to assert their own power and control.  Again, thus is evil in the world.  Adam was created to tend and serve, Eve to be a helper – yet since the fall we have been striving more and more to show who is boss, who is in charge, our lives are endless shows of dominance and control.  The soldier smacks Christ – is that how you answer the High Priest?  Yet, the irony is this – Christ Jesus is the Great High Priest, the One who will offer up the true sacrifice to thoroughly deliver people from Evil.  And He lets it be.  He will deliver you from evil, and so He is slapped.

          Then it is on to Pilate.  Pilate is so concerned about making friends and influencing people – what does the mob think, what will Caesar think (if you let Him go, you are no friend of Caesar).  Maybe this Christ will give Pilate influence – so you are a King?  Oh, Your kingdom is not of this world… then I guess you can’t help me and I really can’t help you.  There is a mob out there, and they want blood – better Your blood than mine, Jesus.  And the wonder – Jesus agrees.  Yes, I will be crucified, I will be delivered unto Evil so that even you, Pontius Pilate, you who quips “what is truth” may be delivered from evil by the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life Himself!

          There also is the flogging, the mocking, the crown of thorns.  The cross laid upon His shoulder as His already wrecked Body is paraded towards His execution.  His people reject Him – We have no king but Caesar – nothing more blasphemous or evil could be spoken by a Jew, for God is their King.  Jesus is delivered to that evil; He takes up even their blasphemy.  All evil, it all comes swirling upon Him.

          And He is crucified.  Adam and Eve, when they sinned knew that they were naked, and they were ashamed, and they hid.  There is Christ, not hiding behind bushes or trees, but hung naked and exposed upon a tree, nailed to it – behold His shame, see Him, mock Him, wag your head at Him – let all the evil come at Him, let His clothes be gambled away.  So be it – He is there to deliver people from evil – and even in the midst of His suffering, He pauses to deliver His mother. John, behold your mother.  Care for her – do not let the evil of poverty or starvation take hold of her when I have died.  Even as evil is heaped upon Him, He delivers others.  As the other Gospel writers note, even as woe and wrath is piled upon Him, He delivers from evil.  You, O repentant Criminal, today you will be with Me in paradise, for I deliver you from evil.  Father, forgive these who are mocking Me, for I deliver them from evil. 

And one other little blip of evil.  I thirst – and what do they give Him?  Sour wine.  The very One who turned water into wine at Cana so that there would be joy and celebration and life now meets His death with vinegar.  Let even wine which was given to gladden the hearts of men be rather sour and bitter and joyless– let all the evil of the world of all times and of all places come flowing upon Him there upon that Cross.  And it comes, all the evil, and it is laid upon Him, and He cries out “It is finished”.  All evil, all of it, there upon Christ.  And He dies.

He dies, and Evil is finished.  It is spent upon Christ.  There is no wickedness, no vice, no shame that can ever happen that is not tied to Christ upon the cross.  The sin you did today – Christ has tied that sin unto Himself upon the Cross.  The shame you feel from something long ago – Christ has tied that shame unto Himself the Cross.  The wickedness that you suffer from, that people do unto you – that has been tied to Christ upon the Cross.  Even your own death – tied to Christ upon the Cross.  And all of it – it is Finished.  You are delivered from Evil.

“It is finished.  And He bowed His Head and gave up His Spirit…But One of the Soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.”  Christ Jesus takes up all the evil in the world… and then what does He do?  He gives out His Spirit, He pours out blood and water.  Your evil is taken away, you are delivered from Evil – but you are not left empty.  Christ Jesus’ Word and Spirit come to you, giving you faith, forgiveness, life, and salvation.  The water which poured from Christ’s side has washed you clean, been placed upon you to mark you One delivered from evil, redeemed by the Crucified.  This is true, this is reality.  And should evil still sniff around you, should your sins mock you and threaten you with punishment, should you suffer rejection, indeed, even if death itself should hound you – take and eat, take and drink, this is My blood, shed for you for the remission of sin.  Evil is finished and you are delivered.  Even death is destroyed – this we shall see on the third day. 

But deliver us from evil.  We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in Heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.  Christ Jesus has walked through the valley of sorrow, the valley of the shadow of death, and you are indeed delivered by Him from evil.  It is finished, now and forever more.  Amen.  In the name of Christ the Crucified +  

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