Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Homily

2 Cor 7:9-10 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

1Thess 4:13-14 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

This night is a solemn occasion for us. We are reminded not only of the death of our Lord but also of our share in it. Jesus did not just die for sin or for sinners as some abstract ideal. He died for particular sins and for particular sinners. He died because we are fallen and dead in Adam and it is his desire to raise us up again to newness of life. He died because we followed Adam into sin with our own sins and thus confirmed the truth that all have fallen in Adam. He died because our sinful nature and our sins indeed have lumped us in with all the objects of wrath and have brought death to those who were meant for life. Without the death of Jesus, those sins cannot be taken away. Without the death of Jesus we cannot be justified and declared not guilty before our perfect and holy heavenly Father.

So, it is good for us to reflect on what a grand failure and horrific sin was committed in the person of Adam. He was perfect in righteousness and holiness. He was walking with God in the garden. He had heard God’s command and knew that he must heed, or die. And yet, Adam chose death rather than life.

He represents us well. For here we are on the winning side of the resurrection, on the knowing side of the Ascension, on the victorious side of Pentecost. Jesus has done all that He said He would do. He has kept all of His promises. And yet, we still, like sheep, have gone astray. We still, like the disciples, deny and abandon our Lord in seeking after what is forbidden. We still, like Peter, proclaim death-defying allegiance, only to shrink away from Jesus in fear of man. And all of this with the power of the Holy Spirit present and promised to us. If we only believed with our heart and actions the way we proclaim with our lips.

These are sorrowful words. Words of failure and sin. Words of hopelessness and despair. Words of guilt and shame. O, wretched men that we are, Who will deliver us from the body of this death!

It is not glorious that we are sad. However, it is most glorious that our sadness drives us to Jesus. For some, it is not so. It was not so for Judas. He sorrowed with the world’s sorrow and only discovered death. It was not true for Simon Magus. He sorrowed with the world’s sorrow and only found fear. But Peter was moved to weeping for his great sin. He was restored and became a mighty man of God. Paul was moved to repentance for his sorrow and was a mighty man of God.

It is not glorious that we are sad, unless our sadness moves us to repentance, unless our sadness brings us to the cross, to cast all of our cares on Jesus, unless our sadness brings the sorrow that leads to repentance and repentance to life. Then will our sadness be turned to joy. Then will our weeping end in rejoicing.

We have reflected on sad things here tonight. But let us remember that Easter is coming. We know this. We cannot be sad forever. Our sadness drives us to Jesus. Our sadness carries us to the resurrection. Our sadness is necessary so that our rejoicing can be inversely proportionate. We weep today, knowing that the Lord is near so that we can rejoice on Easter Sunday. As we leave here tonight, contemplative of our own sins and the fact that Jesus died to pay for them, let us do so with hope. Let us do so with anticipation. Let us do so with the knowledge that Jesus has already risen and that He receives all those who come to Him in true humility and repentance.

We do not wink at sin. It is an enemy and produces all manner of sorrow and suffering in the world. But we do wink at the supposed victory of death on this night. Jesus is crucified before us and sin and death rejoice. We let them have their moment for it has all been a wonderful feint and stratagem of our Lord. Sin is no victor. Death is no champion. There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Jesus has become sin for us and died for us, only to condemn sin and death in us. Glory be to God in the Highest. Easter is coming! Amen.

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