Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Noonday Sermon for Good Friday
Mark, Luke and John all tell us what Jesus said when He died. "It is finished..." "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit..." But Matthew says only "He cried out with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit." The death roar. Some would say it was the cry of defeat for indeed Jesus did die. It would seem that Satan had won, the scribes and temple authorities had won, death had won. But this was not the sound of defeat. When you have won, it does not matter what you say...
This was not the sound of defeat. Oh, it may seem as if Jesus has lost. He cried out to God in the loneliest of voices: Eloi, eloi, lama sabacthani. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But this was the plan, the plan of salvation prepared before sin even entered the world, the rescue plan that from the beginning required that a holy life be given up in the exchange for the unholy lives of sinners like you or me.
But His shame has become His honor. He did not shy from the cost of our redemption. He was obedient even to death on a cross. He died for us that we who live through His death should not live for ourselves but for Him. The roar of His voice when the last breath came out of Him was the lion's roar of victory.
Though His victory was hidden in the appearance of defeat, He did not lose. More importantly, He did not lose us. He won us by His death that sets us free from death and forgives our sins. We see that in ripping of the curtain of the temple in half exposing the holy of holies. We see that in the graves of the saints who gave up the faithful dead by His death.
A famous coach once said, "Winning isn't everything; it is the only thing." We live in a time in which we focus more on everyone getting to play than on who wins or loses. In a world where justice and fairness and equity seems most important, we face a cross where mercy won over justice and the saving will of God prevailed. Calvary tells us that winning is not everything, it is the only thing. We don't need a win; we need THE win. We do not need a Savior who can win, we need a Savior who must win – who will do whatever it takes to win us free from the grip of sin and the grasp of death. For Jesus, winning is the only thing and death is what He is gladly willing to pay to defeat our enemies and make us His.
What happened on Calvary was no prayer meeting. It was not a game for the spectators. It was the battlefield on which rested our lives and our death, our sins and our forgiveness, the triumph of unrighteousness or the victory of the holy One whose holy death has redeemed us. We are there. Not as those who fight but as those who have a stake in what happens. We are there. Not as spectators but as those whose very existence hangs in the balance of Jesus' suffering and death.
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice... yielding up His spirit.... Friends, that was the sound of victory, the voice of triumph, and the end of the saving work of God in which the sins of the whole world, and your sins and mine, were overcome... In which death died so that we might live and live new and holy lives today and everlasting and eternal lives with Him whose victory is our hope, our faith, and our salvation. Amen.