Good Friday

2017

 

The Epistle. Hebrews 10:1-25

The Gospel.  St. John 19:1-37

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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From Palm Sunday on, we have been hearing the different Evangelist’s accounts of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Each recording all that had happened.  Each including and excluding certain things as they were led by the Holy Spirit to suit the audience that they were intending to reach.

 

 

 

We have them all collected and when read next to one another, we have a very clear and vivid picture of all that our Lord underwent as He lived out the last hours of His life on earth.

 

Palm Sunday we heard Mathew’s account of what happened. 

Monday we read Mark’s account of the commotion surrounding His arrest and trial.

 

Tuesday continues Mark’s account right up to Jesus’ last breath.

 

Wednesday we got Luke’s details of Jesus’ arrest and trial.

 

Last night we heard the continuation of Luke’s account of Jesus’ death.

 

And today brings us John’s account of the Crucifixion.

 

Yet to those around during these horrific events and even for many today, this death of the Christ remains a very complex concept.

 

This is so, because Jesus did not just die on a cross. There was a lot leading up to it and there is a lot to what He exactly accomplished.

 

He did not just die to give us an example of how much He loves us…though this is true.

 

So much of Jesus’ work on earth from birth to death and even beyond was predicted.  It was prophesied.  And it brought into focus what we know about the Old Testament and its Temple and sacrifices.

The Old Testament Law as well as the Temple and the sacrifices were what we call mere shadows of something to come in the future.

 

Imagine living in the time of Moses, or David or maybe even one of the Prophets.  There was a ritual one must perform in the place of worship.  ..whether it was in the Tabernacle or the Temple.

 

An animal had to be sacrificed.  Blood had to be shed.  An animal had to give up its life for the sins of the person bringing the animal.

 

But as was mentioned a few weeks ago, the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that those things were only shadows of what was to come.

 

They really didn't accomplish as much as perhaps some might think. 

 

Today’s passage from Hebrews gives us more to what was talked about a few weeks ago.  And it tells us why Jesus had to die on the Cross and what it all means.

 

It tells us more than we know on the surface.

 

The writer to the Hebrews says, “…the law has but a shadow of the good things to come…it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.”

 

Those who enter year after year to make atonement for their sins are never really at rest.  Their atonement is accepted but this process was only a shadow.

 

The sacrifice could never make perfect the person.

 

Johnson - “…if these sacrifices had finally perfected the conscience of worshipers, they would have ceased—there would no longer be need for them. But the opposite is the case: their continued performance serves as a “reminder” (anamnēsis) of sins, year by year (10:3). The sheer fact of repetition argues against efficacy.[1]….argues against it really doing something. 

 

It reminded the worshiper that their sins needed something greater to atone for them and have them forgiven and forgotten forever.  Each year they had to go back to the Temple and be reminded that their sins remained and needed to be dealt with again.

 

Why is this?  Because, it says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

 

Something greater is necessary.

 

So here is the greater.  “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

 

            “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

                        but a body have you prepared for me;

            [6] in burnt offerings and sin offerings

                        you have taken no pleasure.

            [7] Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

                        as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

           

           

            [8] When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), [9] then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. [10] And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

Some might think, “I'm not Jewish, so what does all of this have to do with me?  We don't have a sacrificial system.”

 

In fact we do.  We have the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. We just don't offer it ourselves.  He offers Himself to the Father on our behalf. 

This is how He acts as a Priest.  He takes the offering of Himself and places it before the Father in order to turn God’s wrath away from our sins.

 

There is still the matter of gaining access to God’s presence and finding forgiveness.  This system is still solidly in place.

 

Where people acknowledge it or not, all have sinned. All need forgiveness.  Christ’s sacrifice is made available and is great enough to cover the sins of the whole world.

 

Only those who are completely hardened to the things of God will deny this…or reject it.

To those of us here who accept this message, the forgiveness is held out to us each and every day.  And it is accessible to us any time.

We may now come to God again and again and appeal to the Father on the merit of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and find forgiveness of sins of any kind.

 

Any other way will not do this.  We are always inclined, until we are steeped in Christian doctrine, to try to make atonement for our own sins. 

 

Maybe we can cry long enough.

Maybe we can do enough good things to offset the bad that we have done.

Maybe we can imagine silly things like karma evening things out.


People will go to great lengths to work toward or even think they accomplish a good standing before God by something they do.

 

But it doesn't work this way.

The only way to the Father is through the Son.

 

The only way to be right with God is through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

The only way forgiveness of sins is found is through the finished and final work of Jesus Christ.

 

Only Christ’s sacrifice and death and blood shedding atonement can perfect the person’s conscience and truly and fully cleanse us from our sins.

 

Hear more of Hebrews,  “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

[12] But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, [13] waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. [14] For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

 

Now as we accept this, the Holy Spirit testifies to us again and again the truth of God’s perfect and complete forgiveness.

 

It says, “And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

 

            [16] “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts,

                        and write them on their minds,”

            [17] then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

[18] Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

 

This information is now written on the heart and mind of each of us.  The Holy Spirit testifies to this that it is true.

 

There is no longer any offering for sin in the old way. 

And there is nothing we can do. 

Nothing anyone else can do for us.

 

Now we appeal to the work ….the finished work of Christ for assurance.

 

In fact he finishes this section this way…

 

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places [to enter into the throne room of God the Father]….

 

How???  by the blood of Jesus,

That is….[20] by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, [recall the curtain in the Temple??? It divided the place where God was from the place where the people were….and it kept the sight of God hidden from the people….this curtain is now torn down.  

 

It was torn in two at the moment of Jesus’ death.  And that symbolizes that access once denied is denied no longer.  Christ’s flesh is now the curtain and we enter through participating in His flesh…by putting our faith there…and spiritually eating it.

 

 

 

 

 

[21] and since we have a great priest over the house of God, [22] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

[23] Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. [24] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, [25] not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

 

The Day of redemption and Christ’s return draws near.

 

 

Let us in turn draw near with faith to the Holy Sacraments of Christ’s Body and Blood, continually make our humble confessions to Him daily, and let us have full assurance that in Him we have full forgiveness of our sins. 

 

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.



[1] Johnson, L. T. (2012). Hebrews: A Commentary. (C. C. Black, M. E. Boring, & J. T. Carroll, Eds.) (1st ed., p. 249). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.