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Scripture Readings for Good Friday, 2013C

3Crosses

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament: Isaiah 52:13—53:12

        13Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.  14As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—15so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.  1Who has believed what they heard from us?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

        2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  3He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

        4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  5But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

        7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?  9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

        10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.  11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.  12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Epistle: Hebrews 4:14–16; 5:7–9

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. . . .

      5:7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: John 18:1—19:42

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them,  “Whom do you seek?” 5They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them,  “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them,  “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7So he asked them again,  “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8Jesus answered,  “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken:  “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11So Jesus said to Peter,  “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

      12So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

      15Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

      19The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20Jesus answered him,  “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23Jesus answered him,  “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

      25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

      28Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

      33So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered,  “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered,  “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered,  “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

      After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

      19:1Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11Jesus answered him,  “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

      12From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

      So they took Jesus, 17and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

      23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

      “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother,  “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then he said to the disciple,  “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

      28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture),  “I thirst.” 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said,  “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

      31Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

      38After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The Lord Jesus willingly endured the cross–for you!  Through His death, all of your sins are done away with.  Thus can St. Paul say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect.  It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:31-34).  In Christ, you’re sins are no more.  Though you still feel them, because of Christ, no longer are they yours.  And because God the Father judged His Son, no longer any judgment do you bear before God.  Thus, are you forgiven, saved, and free, in the Lord Jesus Christ!

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Meditation for Good Friday

 

 

The account of our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and His death by crucifixion, should be discomforting to our ears.  That one man suffered such horrible treatment is almost unimaginable.  The last days and hours of the man Jesus are unequaled in all of history.  But the treatment of Jesus by sinful men and His temporary end is not the entire focus of our meditation this sorrowful evening.

That Jesus suffered as an innocent man is not the center of our attention on this somber night, for on that day of Good Friday, the righteous justice of God was meted out.

On that day, One man was accused.  Charges were brought against Him.  And on the testimony of witnesses, that Man was condemned to die.

On that day, they executed the Innocent Jesus for crimes He had not committed.  Jesus suffered at the hands of sinful men for wrongdoings that He had not done.  Jesus bore the just punishment of a just God who hates sin and will not allow sinful man to stand in His presence.

But Jesus was not a sinner.  He had no sin of His own to claim.  Jesus was not a wrongdoer.  He had done nothing wrong.  He only fully did and fully spoke as His heavenly Father had given Him to speak and to do.

Therefore, Jesus had not suffered what He suffered nor experience what He experienced because of His own sin.  What led this man, our beautiful savior, to such a state of affairs, was not what He did or what He did not do.  Jesus was not judged because of His own guilt.

Jesus did not die on the cross because of His own disobedience to God.  Jesus did not die for His own sin.  Jesus died for ours.  Jesus suffered and died in order that we, the justly judged and condemned sinners before God, would be saved from sin, death, and hell.

You deserved to be that man on the cross.  But because of God’s grace and mercy, you are not that man.  Because of God’s mercy, Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself – for you.  He nailed your sin to that tree of death.  He buried the power of sin in His grave.

But what are we to make of the whip, the crown of thorns, the nails, the suffering, the pain, the dying of our Lord?

Many wonder why we call this day ‘Good’.  As we consider this Friday of Fridays, we see nothing but agony and suffering.  And how can this be good?  Many sorrow for Christ in His last hours, it is true.  But many stop only at sorrow for Him in their consideration of the passion.  Many only pity the Jesus unjustly condemned and go no further.  Many only see the scourging, the thorns, the nails, the suffering, and the pain that Jesus suffered, and only lament that these things ever happened, but they fail to go beyond the mere appearance and get to the very of the matter.

But our meditations this night don’t stop at mere appearances or emotional laments.  If they do, you will fail to see the Passion of Christ rightly.  If you only see Christ in His sufferings and fail to recognize why Jesus set His face like flint to suffer and die as He had, you will not see Him rightly as your savior.  If you only pity Christ and nothing more, you are to be the most pitied.

God is not moved to compassion towards you because you pity Christ.  Rather, God has compassion toward you because of Christ.  Your sadness for Christ does not save you.  It is God’s mercy towards you in the suffering Christ that saves you.

God shows mercy towards sinners.  This is what Christ’s Passion is all about.  Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  If you fail to recognize that His love for you is what led Him to His death, you have no savior.  And if you fail to recognize that Jesus died in order to save you from your sin, you have no savior in Him.

Jesus died on the accursed cross in order to take your place there.  You deserve to be on that cross because of your sin, because of your idolatry, because of your lack of love for God and neighbor, because of your hypocrisy, and because of your selfishness.   Because of your sin before God and men, you deserve to be where Jesus was on that cross.

We sorrow this day, but not for Christ.  We sorrow for ourselves.  We sorrow for our sin, for it is from this sin for which Jesus died to deliver us, and it is from this very sin from which Jesus does deliver us by means of His own blood.

Before God, no fault is greater than another’s fault.  My sin is not greater than your sin, nor is your sin greater than my sin.  Before the Holy God, all sin is alike.

Before God, we are all equally guilty.  No sin is greater than another.  We might distinguish between greater sins and lesser sins, but God doesn’t.  To Him, you are either completely innocent or entirely guilty.  And without Christ, we stand only as condemned sinners, deserving only of eternal death and hell.

You deserve everything that Christ suffered that fateful day – the lashes, the mocking, the crown of thorns, the beatings, and the cross.  This is how to see the passion of Christ rightly.

Seeing yourselves in Christ on that day called Good Friday means that you see Christ’s passion rightly, that you see Christ bearing your sufferings, not for Himself, but for you.  And as you learn to say, “me” in Christ’s suffering, so you also learn to say, “He” in your suffering.

Because of Christ, you stand innocent before God’s judgment seat.  Because of Christ, God declares you not guilty, because on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty of death for all of your sin.  This does not mean that you now have the freedom to sin, but it does certainly mean that you now have the freedom to freely serve the Lord rightly-by faith, and not by threat of judgment and death.

As you learn to see yourselves as deserving of what Christ suffered, you learn to see the Passion of Christ rightly.  And you learn to see that your sufferings in this life, as Christians, for righteousness sake, is a partaking of Christ’s Passion.  What is yours, sin, death, and hell, has become His; and what is His, righteousness, life, and heaven, has become yours.  Jesus’ death now also means your death to sin.  And His resurrection three days later means also your resurrection unto life.  Amen.

 

 Prayer: Heavenly Father, look not upon our sins, but see Your only begotten Son, who, in our stead, took upon Himself our sins and even our death, that we might have eternal life.  Amen.

 

Christ’s Passion and Death

  John 18-19

Before breathing His last, Jesus declared, It is finished! It was for no small reason that Jesus spoke thus.  By these words, Jesus testified to His completed work for your salvation.  It was not on the day of Easter, the day that our Lord resurrected bodily, that sin and death were put to an end.  It was the day He died that sin too had died and death had lost its eternal hold.  For this reason, the unforgetful words of our Lord, It is finished! bring comfort and consolation to hearts troubled by sin and burdened by its effects.

Through His suffering and death, Christ brought about that peace with God that surpasses all human understanding.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).  The price for that peace, the cost for that sin being taken away, was His blood.  It is as we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, that Christ ‘redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, that He purchased and won from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death’ (Meaning to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed).

The Jesus of the Bible was not an unbloody Jesus.  He shed His own blood, not for Himself, but for you.  The servant of Isaiah chapter 52 & 53 is truly the servant of the Most High God, but He is the suffering servant, whom we esteem as stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Instead of the crown of kings, the Christ of God received a crown of thorns.  Instead of the honor due His name, the Son of the Living God was mocked and blasphemed.  Though His Words and works gave witness to His true identity, still did they crucify Him.

Though Jesus endured such hostilities, though He died at the hands of sinful men, though His life ended just after His last words that still echo in the ears, It is finished! He surrendered Himself to death and permitted Himself to be crucified.

Jesus did not say what He said because His suffering in this world had ended.  Jesus did not do what He did because He was sinful from birth and in need of a savior.  Jesus did not give Himself over to suffer and die to save Himself.

Jesus said what He said as a clear witness and testimony to all creation that His work of redemption for all people, here and there, near and far, at home and abroad, was now accomplished.  All the work that His Heavenly Father had given Him to do was now done.  There is nothing more to be done.  There is nothing undone that Jesus hasn’t fulfilled for your salvation.  There is nothing to add to, and nothing to take away from what the Lord Christ had completed in death – for you.

The penalty for your sin and justice for your guilt was laid upon Him who knew no sin.  The holy One became the unholy.  The righteous One became the unrighteous.  The sinless became the sinner.  In your place and as your substitute, the Passover Lamb Christ Jesus was slain.

Willingly our Savior endured the cross, even scorning its shame.  He was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, the chastisement of your peace was upon Him, and by His stripes you are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

This despised and rejected Jesus of Nazareth, this One called King of the Jews, who hung on a cross, is the only hope for our dying world, for sinful people, and for Christ’s church.

Whatever you would add or subtract from His work is all for nothing.  The sacrifice of God’s Son is sufficient satisfaction and compensation for all sin, whether it be the sin of the most pious saint or the sin of the most wretched sinner.  It makes no difference, for there is no partiality with God.  He shows no favoritism to anyone.

This is good news for all who sorrow over their sin, grieve because of their unrighteousness, and despair over themselves.   The first-born Son of God reconciled you to His Father.  He who is the way, the truth, and the life placated God’s wrath by means of humility, suffering, and death (John 14:6).

Christ the Messiah came to fulfill all that was spoken of Him.  He was the suffering servant of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 52-53), the Psalmist calling out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? (Psalm 22), and the seed of the woman crushing the serpents head (Genesis).  He came to fulfill all righteousness and willingly obeyed His Father in every respect.  He was the Servant of servants and the Slave of slaves to free both you and me and all the world by condemning sin with His flesh in death and doing the work which we could not.   This He has completed.  All is done.  It is finished.

In Christ the crucified, all requirements for your salvation are complete.  He is your perfection before God.  He is your righteousness before the Father.  He is your peace before the Just Judge.  Through His suffering and death, by His work of righteousness upon the land, on account of His faithful and perfect obedience to His Father, He fulfilled all the requirements of the law in your place and died your death, that you would live in Him and with Him for all eternity.  In Christ Jesus, it is truly finished!  All is accounted for, and through His death, you now have life.

This is how to see Christ’s death rightly: not that he was merely one who died who should not have, not simply  having pity toward the one who got what He Himself did not deserve, and not casting blame only on others, like the Jews or the Romans.  The Jewish religious leaders certainly called for His death.  The Romans did put Him to death by execution.

Christ was there for you.  For your sins He died.  Seeing Christ’s death rightly is believing that Christ died in your place, that you deserved all that He got, but that He took your place, even in death, so that you have life, and that you no longer be ruled by sin and its evil desires, but look to Him for help and salvation.

Christ’s death means your life, free from sin and death.  By Christ’s death, your sin too is dead.  Having been baptized into the Name of Christ, you have been baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6).  This means that you are now dead to sin, but alive to God, even as St. Paul writes, If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Romans 8:10).  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).

Though this night be one of sorrow, sorrow for the death of Christ, more is it to be one of sorrow over your sins for which our Savior died.  On the way to the cross, some women had cried out after Jesus.  They were weeping in sorrow for what was coming upon Him.  But to them He said, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:28).  Jesus says the same to you.  Do not weep for Him.  Weep for yourselves and for your own sins.

On the cross you see where you should be, what should come to you.  Only for God’s grace are you not there, for Christ was.

The little suffering you find in this life is no comparison to Christ’s.  If He suffered so much for us willingly, can you not do the same?  The problem is that you don’t see Christ’s suffering and death rightly.  You believe our own trials and tribulations to be the greater.  If you did see them rightly, you would cling all the more firmly to Christ and see in Him your only help and salvation.

To this end the Lord would preserve you.  He directs you to view the suffering and death of His Son as your own.  In this way, you see rightly what Christ endured, that all is indeed finished.  Your sin is done away with.  It is no more.  In Christ, all is truly finished.  In Christ, your salvation is won.  Amen.

The Passion of Our Lord

20Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

41Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:20–43)

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Just a few words before this text in St. John’s Gospel, we have this account of our Lord entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:12-14).

Today, the church rejoices in her King, her King who rode into Jerusalem, just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).  With the cry of Hosanna, which means, Save and is also an exclamation of praise, the people praised Jesus and gave to the Lord the glory due His name (Psalm 96:8).  They echoed the words of the Psalmist, Save now, I pray, O LORD…  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! (Psalm 118:25-26)

 By their words, they declared the truth of who Jesus was.  By their confession, they spoke of Christ’s true identity and who sent Him.  Jesus was the Messiah, the promised One, who would save and deliver Israel.  To Him they cried shouts of adoration, acclamation, worship, and honor; the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.  Though Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey, Jesus is the great king above all kings (Zechariah 9:9).  This Jesus who entered humbly into Jerusalem is the same Jesus whom God also has highly exalted and given the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-10).

 Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, but only on His journey to enter another locale, that of Mount Calvary.  This is why He had said, for this purpose I have come to this hour.  He had not come to receive glory and honor of men, but for the salvation of sinners.

 By ‘this hour’ that our Lord spoke of, our Lord meant the time of His very suffering and death.  In our text, Jesus says, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Here He is speaking of His death.  Through His death, much fruit would born, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible (1 Peter 1:23).  That fruit is those who bear His name, those who believe and so are saved, Christ-bearers, Christians by name.

 The reason Christ came into the world was to save sinners, not to save by force or in power of might, but to save through weakness and humility, in perfect obedience to the will of His Father.

 Jesus made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8).

 This was demonstrated not long after the hero’s welcome by the people in Jerusalem on that day called, ‘Palm Sunday’.  Later that same week, the chief priests, the officers, and the Jews would call out, Crucify, crucify and call only Caesar their king, not, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews (John 19:6, 15, 19).

 He who was acknowledged as the King of Israel, He who comes in the Name of the Lord, is the One sent by the Father to demonstrate God’s love for all people.  For fallen mankind Jesus was sent, not to merit our salvation by conquering sin in life, but by conquering sin through death—His own death.  This is the Christian faith, that God saves sinners through the death of His only begotten Son.

 This Jesus who came for the purpose of saving you is He who receives all Hosannas, honors, and praise, and rightly so.  This One alone brings true peace with God and with one another.  He is your Mediator and your Advocate (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1).  He makes intercession to the Father—for you—without ceasing (Romans 8:34).  Though clothed in lowly form, Jesus Christ is the very Word of God, through whom All things were made…and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1, 3).

 Jesus is He, “who, for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Maryy and was made man” (2nd Article of Nicene Creed).  If He would have come in power and might, all would flee from Him.  He is perfect and holy.  You are not.  You are beset by your sin and unworthy to stand in God’s presence.  If He would have come with the use of force and coercion, none would willingly follow Him.  The Law can make people do many things, but the Law is not of faith and God’s grace, nor is it the means of your salvation.

 Your Lord comes to you in weakness, that you might believe Him according to His Word and not according to what you see.  He comes in lowliness that you might trust in His promises.  He gathers you to Himself by that which is weak and lowly that you not go by sight, but by what He says.

 Therefore do you come to receive His mercy and His grace which He gives in Word and Sacrament.  Therefore do you readily hear and believe His forgiveness spoken through the called and ordained servant of the word.  Therefore do you believe His word preached through the pastor, who is called not to preach his own word, but God’s, that you be strengthened in the faith and continue in that faith, remain in His Word, continue to be His disciples, and know the truth (John 8:31-32).  Therefore do you come to the Lord’s Table as the Lord bids you, for there, your Lord Jesus gives His very body and blood in bread and wine that you eat and drink eternal life.

 Through these means, your Lord gives you certainty and peace with Him and eternal life.  Christ won forgiveness for you on the cross, but through Word and Sacrament, God gives you the blessed benefits of that cross.

 Though these means through which God works appear lowly and insignificant, it is not according to your eyes that you truly perceive and believe what God is giving.  It is according to His Word alone that you believe His Word to be so.  Your eyes would here deceive, as they readily do, just as in Jesus’ day, where few believed Christ to be who He said He was because of His appearance.

 Your reason and human understanding here would also deceive, for these cannot grasp the things of God, for the Scripture says that The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned  (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 But God’s Word cannot and will not be undone.  Nor do the Lord’s sheep go after the voices of strangers, deceivers, and false teachers, for Christ’s sheep hear His voice and His voice only.  They go by His Word and not by the word, speculation, or opinion of fallen man.

 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).

 And so in today’s text does Jesus say, If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

 There will come a time when the whole world, even those who try to work against God, will acknowledge Jesus Christ to be Lord, but the time is not yet and the moment is not now.  Christ’s true identity as God and man remains hidden from those who deny God’s Salvation through cross and death.  But Jesus is the only Savior.  He is your only Savior.

 The entrance of our Lord Christ into the City of Jerusalem in lowliness on a donkey hid His divinity.  But it is in lowliness and humility that our Lord comes, not bearing the signs of a great ruler, but that of a meek servant.  He comes to draw, not to drive away; to forgive, not to charge; and to save, not to condemn.

 In God’s wisdom, has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

 Here do we see Christ, who came into the world lowly, laid in a manger; having humbly entered into the city, riding upon a donkey; dying a death reserved for sinners, having been nailed to the cross.  Those who receive this Jesus as He is in truth believe Him according to what He says.  And these will have eternal life.  The Christ who concealed His divinity in the flesh is hidden from unbelievers.  Only those who believe in Him according to His Word will see Him for who He is – their Savior and the world’s Savior.  These will come to hear His Word and to receive from Him gifts of life, even through the humble means of water, and even through the lowly means of bread and wine.

 Through earthly elements our Lord gives you His grace.  In bread and wine, Christ gives His own body and blood to eat and to drink in His Supper.  Here He gives you forgiveness of all your sins and assures you of that forgiveness.  By the preaching of His Word, He plants faith within the heart and raises to new life by means of His Gospel (Romans 10:17).  Through the mouth of fallible man, the Lord forgives sins and pardons iniquity (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

 By His Word, the Lord makes Himself known.  Jesus reveals Himself to be the One who came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7), whom the Father sent, in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin and condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).

 This is the same Lord and Jesus Christ who offers Himself to you in Word and instituted Sacrament.

 Jesus says, Where I am, there will my servant be also.  Where Christ’s Word is preached and where He gives Himself in the Sacrament, there the Lord’s children will be, hearing and receiving for the strengthening of their faith and unto eternal life.  Not only this, His servants continue fighting with their sin and temptation and put down their sinful Adam daily, repenting of their sin and holding fast to Christ alone for help and salvation, for Christ alone is the only help and the only salvation.  You know this because you are His servants.  You are His people.  You carry His Name.  You are His.  Amen.

Lutheranism 101

This book is worth checking out: Lutheranism 101

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