Sermon for Good Friday, AD 2022

John 19:1-42

St. John mentions several times that Jesus dies on the Jewish Day of Preparation. What is the day of Preparation? Well, when God created the heavens and the earth, he created in six days and on the seventh day He rested. This day was the Sabbath, Saturday, and it was passed down through the law of Moses, through the Ten Commandments that none should work on Saturday, on the Sabbath. So Friday was a day of preparation for the Jews, to get everything ready before the Sabbath when no one can work. So when St. John speaks of the Day of Preparation he means Friday, but Friday with a special significance.

Even more is this Friday significant as it was a Friday before the Passover. This sabbath was also a high holy day, a festival of God’s deliverance. Before Moses gave the Ten Commandments to God’s people, God has to make Himself a people. He did so by bringing these people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt. The Passover celebrates when the angel of death passed over the Israelites and killed the firstborn of all the Egyptians, freeing them from the oppressive slavery of Egypt. The Lord told the Israelites at the time to kill a lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts, so death would pass over. The Israelites that night, and every year to follow, would eat a roast lamb, standing at the table, dressed and ready to go. In so doing, they remembered God’s mighty work to deliver them from Egyptian slavery.

That same God has sent his son to take on flesh and become man, to become one of his people, these Jews whose ancestors were freed in the Passover. See that in the day of preparation the Jews are all very scrupulous about the coming holy day. They will not enter Pilate’s house, for he is a Gentile and will make them unclean. They must have those crucified taken down before the Passover begins. Very moral and scrupulous are they who crucify the very God who saved them. The very Son of God, who freed them out of slavery in Egypt, who spoke with Moses and gave the Commandments, they choose to kill as a common slave.

Yet do not focus only on these Jews. For you in their place would have done the same. That is not a judgment on your personality. It is a judgment on who you are, who all people are in their sin. After God created the world and rested on the Sabbath, all the world was very good, in harmony with our first parents, Adam and Eve. Yet Adam and Eve sought more, they ate of the forbidden fruit because even with all the good around them they thought God was hiding more from them. They brought sin into the world, and all their descendants, including you, have followed in their footsteps.

Despite every good that God has done for you, you still sin. You seek more, you do not trust that he will give you what you need. This is the story of humanity. Even when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, it did not stop man’s sin. God’s people immediately broke the commandments. You know that you break the commandments daily, and you do not fear God’s punishment for doing so. Even those who have every reason to love God show their hatred for him by ignoring him and turning to other things – other gods you fear, love, and trust more.

Throughout all this history, there was no one found who could reconcile for humanity. No man would make a perfect substitute, for all men are sinners. No animal could be sacrificed for all. So God in His wisdom sent his son to reconcile for you. His Son took on flesh in the womb of Mary and became man. He became flesh and blood, like us, to pay for your flesh and blood. For no amount of silver or gold, not even the value of the whole world could pay God back for your sin. Only Jesus Christ can, who pays with the very blood of God through his innocent suffering and death.

This death he had to bear by the very ones he desires to save. For his death is caused by your sin. Your sins are the slap to his face. Your desire for other gods is the thorns cutting into his brow. Your lack of contentment with what he gives causes the whips to dig into his back. You mock him when you speak the name of Christ and break his commands. Your disobedience nailed him to the cross. Your self-assurance and pride at being a very good person on your own put the spear in his side.

Upon the piercing of the spear, out flows the water and the blood. Even in his death comes the blood which covers all sin and the water which washes you clean. Jesus will not leave you merely in sorrow for your sins. Just stopping at sorrow for sin helps no one. Even Judas was sorry for his sin. Jesus wants you not to despair like Judas but hold on to the promise of the water and the blood. Jesus is pierced with a spear because they don’t need to break his legs, he has already died. None of his bones are broken. This is just like the Passover lamb, who is roasted whole with none of his bones broken. The same Passover lamb whose blood marks the doorpost to keep back the angel of death. Jesus is our Passover lamb. When you trust in his blood to cover you, you are freed from death.

Jesus knew that the sinful world would reject him. He knew that he would be crucified. He came to this world so that every real sin which you commit would send him to the cross. From the virgin Mary to the wicked king Manasseh to even much more vile people and to you he left himself to bear all the punishment that sin could bring. As every person on earth by their sins mocks him, beats him, kills him, he does not respond with a tally to get even. He takes every one. Then he takes, instead of you, the punishment for every one. The Passover lamb is roasted in the wrath of God. And in return you receive the water and the blood. You receive from that ever flowing fountain which comes from his cross, the place where every sin goes in and forgiveness and life comes out.

What love God has for us, that to redeem you, who deserves nothing but punishment, he would kill His Son. See how terribly heavy your sin is. See and feel just what was needed to pay for it. Know it was paid. Whatever guilt you feel, load it onto Christ, he has come to bear it. And he gives back life. Whatever sufferings you face, throw them on Christ, he has come to bear them. And he gives back life. If you desire life, turn from your sins and trust that Jesus gives life.

This is the day, Good Friday, the day of preparation, when your sins were paid for. Because of Good Friday, all who trust in Christ’s Word and his sacrifice do not need to fear judgment. For when you are before that Judge and the devil brings the list of all the sins for which you owe God retribution, He will look at the blood of Christ, which covers you in your baptism, and say, “paid in full.” Not even death will be able to punish.

Christ has even taken on that punishment of death. Joseph and Nicodemus agree, Jesus was truly dead. He will be laid in a new tomb near the cross. The first Adam in the garden of Eden caused the need for the cross. The last Adam, Jesus, will take his Sabbath rest in a garden, for he has completed his work. But the one who gives life cannot stay dead for long. The preparation has past, he rests for now, but the first day of the week is just around the corner. Amen.    

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