Friday, March 29, 2013

Responding With What Is Most True and Sure

Good Friday
March 29, 2013
From the beginning God has shown us how He works. He speaks. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. At the outset, God has shown us how He wishes to deal with us. He sounds forth His Word.

He has given us the ability to speak. To respond to Him. The problem that has come about is that we have not heard His Word and rested solely in that. We have listened to other words. We have listened to the voice of the world, enticing us and tempting us. We have listened to the devil, opening the door just a little to doubt, to wonder if that Word from God is really all He has said it would be. We have listened to the voice inside of us that tells us that those little sins we commit that no one ever knows about aren’t really all that harmful to our spiritual life.

And so when we speak to God we speak condemnation on ourselves. The Passion of our Lord, as given in the Gospel reading from St. John, gives a lot of quotations. That is, there is a lot of talking going on. By a lot of people. Many people say many things. And they’re all for the interest of getting for themselves what they want to get out of life. There is one who speaks in the Passion account of our Lord, and it is our Lord Himself. He speaks what is most true and sure.

When we respond to God with our own words, our own ideas, our own wants, we speak what is untrue and what is uncertain. We need to hear again the Passion account and listen to what is actually being spoken by each person. We need to hear how each individual, and each group of people, condemned themselves when they opened up their yappers. We need to hear how when our Lord spoke, He spoke what is true and what is certain. And we need to learn that when we speak, when we respond to God, all we simply need to do is repeat what He has said to us. In that way we respond with what is most true and sure.

So hear again how Judas spoke what was untrue about the Lord, in listening to his Lord but using the words of his Lord for his own purposes. To betray his Lord. The Ten Commandments are always before us, always accusing us. Whenever we rationalize our sin away we betray our Lord. We speak to Him what is untrue and therefore uncertain. Jesus always goes back to His own word, which is true and therefore certain.

Hear again how Caiaphas, as the high priest, opened up his own mouth and spoke what would further the purposes of the religious leaders and their power. The people of God must always be on guard, holding their pastors to account. Holding them to the pure Word of God and nothing else. There is what is most true and certain, for there are the words of God.

See how Peter followed his Lord, as his Lord had bid him to do. But when confronted with the truth of his allegiance to Jesus he spoke words of cowardice and against the truth of his Lord. He lied and therefore spoke words of uncertainty. He had promised to lay down his life for his Lord and by God’s grace later came to see the truth and certainty of his Lord’s words: the promise that He would be the one to lay down His life for Peter and for all sinners everywhere. This is what is most true and therefore sure.

See how the religious leaders, the ones charged with the very spiritual care of the people of God spoke not of truth to Pontius Pilate, but of lies to him. Rather than listen to Jesus they sought to put an end to Him. They rested in their own words and therefore they were resting in what was untrue and unsure. Nevertheless, God’s Word wins out, as when they said to Pilate, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” our Gospel reading states that “this was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” The promise of Jesus’ death on the cross is what was fulfilled. This is what is most true and sure.

Note how Pilate sought to get himself out of a political jam rather than fulfilling his calling as a servant of the state. Rather than seeking the truth he sought what was expedient. This is always uncertain. But Jesus showed him the truth. “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Here we hear the words of our Lord. For this purpose He was sent. To die on the very cross Pilate would sentence Him to. To die for that very man and for every person who listens to voices other than Christ’s. Voices of untruth, of lies, of uncertainty. In the Word of Christ is certainty. He died on the cross to save sinners.

Note how the crowds were as uninterested in the truth as Pilate was. They asked for the release of a criminal so they could see an innocent man punished with the death penalty. Rather than repeating the truth about Christ, they condemned Him and in so doing condemned themselves. Nevertheless, this very act of sending Christ to the cross was what brought about the act in which Jesus would remove condemnation from those people, from Pilate, from the religious leaders, from Peter, from Caiaphas, from Judas, from you and me, and every sinner who has listened to other voices rather than the voice of the Lord in His Word. Jesus, the voice of truth, and therefore certainty, was being condemned to death because of lies, and through the mercy of God, for the forgiveness of those very lies.

Witness the soldiers who swallowed up the lies about this prisoner they were taking to the hill of crucifixion, rather than seeing in Him the only one who was truly innocent. The only one who spoke truly, and therefore with words that were certain. Even as they did this, the Lord carried through in humility, fulfilling the Word of God that told of these things that would happen.

Witness Jesus’ mother Mary and His disciple John as they stood before Him hanging on the cross, and while not having any words of theirs recorded in Scripture, looked upon Jesus, their beloved Son and beloved Master and Lord, as one who was coming to His end. They were hanging on to their misguided beliefs, and therefore were holding on to things that are not sure. Even so, Jesus used these precious people to Him for His good purposes. John took Jesus’ mother into his home from that hour and Mary was taken care of.

You are no better than your fathers in the faith. You have held on to was is untrue and therefore you have believed things that are uncertain. You have not held fast to the words of your Lord. You must hear your Lord and hold fast to His Word. You must take your refuge in the Bible and the Bible alone. You must grasp that in His Word proclaimed there is what is most true and sure. You must see that in your Baptism is where your certainty for salvation is. You must believe that in your Lord’s Holy Supper is where you are receiving what you need because your Lord is bringing about the fulfillment of His word, that as He promised, He gives you His body for you to eat and His blood for you to drink. That even as He promised He would offer His body in sacrifice for you and shed His blood for you, He delivers that very body slain and that very blood shed to you in His Holy Meal.

And so hear now the words of your Lord. You have heard how all who spoke in the Passion of your Lord spoke words that were not repeating what the Lord had given them to speak and therefore they spoke with what was untrue and unsure. Hear how your Lord broke through all of those words with His true and certain word. How He gives you what to say to Him so that you may repeat to Him with what is most true and sure.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

It is certain. It is true. It is finished. It has been accomplished. Your salvation. Your eternal life. It is most true and sure. And what else could there be for you to say back to Him than this, what is most true and sure? Amen.


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