Saturday, April 15, 2017

It is finished. . .

Sermon preached on Good Friday Evening 2017 by the Rev. Larry A. Peters

It is finished.  That is what Jesus said.  It is finished.  The devil’s dance over our grave, the power of sin to shame us, the reign of guilt over our consciences, the disappointed struggle to find a way around the elephant in the room. . . it is finished.  That is what He said.  It is done.  And it is.  The whole point of Good Friday is to confront us with what we could not do if we wanted to and none of us even want to.  Not simply the last sigh of a life but the whole work of salvation.

It is finished.  The Law’s bite and our foolish and failed attempts to be as holy as God is holy.  It is finished.  The deluded idea that the commandments were accessible and that they might have provided us a real hope for a salvation that we could take credit for.  It is finished.  The idea that we could run away from sin or make our peace with death.  That foolishness is over and done.  It is finished.

It is finished.  On a personal level, that meant the suffering that left Him in agony and the slow, labored death that crucifixion causes. It is finished.  He has completed that for which He was born, He has fulfilled the destiny of the Father for which He was willing to be betrayed into the hands of sinners and give Himself into our death and wear our sin to its grave.  It is finished.  He dies never to die again and His suffering is complete.  It is finished.
    But it is not simply the end.  It is the beginning.  His death is the beginning of hope for a hopeless people, the beginning of forgiveness for a people too used to sin, and the beginning of life for a people who figured their best bet was to make their peace with death. 
It is the beginning for you and for me, for a new life that death cannot end.  For a righteousness that we claim by faith to replace the soiled attempts of our holiness.  It is the beginning of comfort that appeals not to feelings or desire but the blood that cleanses us from all our sins.  It is the beginning of a life no longer defined by death.  A life of real freedom to live as God’s own knowing that death has become a pawn in the hand of God.

It is the beginning of fear’s end, of an end to the despair that grips our world, of the injustice that makes us wonder whether it is worth trying to be good at all.  It is the beginning of faith that is not weak or powerless but strong and mighty.  It is the beginning of courage to live a real life set free from the power of fear and the threat of the devil.

It is the beginning of a whole new world that looks nothing like the world Jesus came to – no longer a world in which the rich triumph and the poor suffer.  It is the beginning of a new world in which the the faithful know that today is a brief moment in comparison with the wonderful eternity prepared for us by Him who died that we might live.  It is the beginning of a life of joy that sorrow cannot steal, of contentment that replaces the false dream of happiness, and of  peace that does not depend upon the circumstances in our lives.

It is finished for Christ and it has begun for you and me.  We have been given what we neither deserve nor merit and it’s gift will seal for us a whole new identity, rooted in Christ’s death & resurrection. God refuses to allow death to get the last word.  It is about the Lord whose sorrow and grief for us and our plight moved Him to do the unthinkable.  To take our place in suffering and to die the death that was ours to die.
    We talk about God’s love as if it were something weak and fragile but it is a love strong enough to weep for us, strong enough to grieve over us, strong enough to walk the lonely road to the cross, strong enough to cry out in loneliness – forsaken by the Father for our sin, and then to surrender His life to death.  There is no greater love than this.  What Christ has finished has become YOUR new beginning.  So do not surrender to fear the joyful future God has provided you through the death of His Son.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I said after this service, it is difficult not to shout, "Alleluia!" to a sermon like that!