Reconciled to God by the Death of His Son / John 19:16–30 & 2 Corinthians 5:17–21 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday April 7th 2023 / Holy Week, Good Friday in the Season of Lent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday April 7th 2023: Holy Week Good Friday in the Season of Lent / John 19:16–30 & 2 Corinthians 5:17–21 “Reconciled to God by the Death of His Son”
[Pilate] delivered [Jesus] over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided My garments among them,
and for My clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
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.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends, God loved the world in this way that He gave His only begotten Son and we have again heard today how this innocent Jesus, who Saint Peter describes saying, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth,” died upon the cross, crucified with two criminals, that first Good Friday.
When the chief priests and the officers of the Temple cried out, “crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” They wished to besmirch Jesus’ good name, to diminish and discredit Him before the very people that He’d come to save so it’s interesting that Pilate wrote an inscription to be put upon Jesus’ cross which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” On the one hand this is an acknowledgment of the truth while on the other hand this is a dig at the chief priests and elders of the people “for [Saint Matthew tells us that Pilate] knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered [Jesus] up [to him to be crucified].” The whole unfolding account of Jesus’ passion and cross calls you to consider who this Jesus truly is. So Saint John tells us that the chief priests of the Jews responded to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” The chief priests want to be able to point to Pilate as the one who removed this stumbling block Jesus from their path, but words like that complicate things for them; Pilate wants to wash his hands of all of their foolish demands and of Jesus’ death yet without Pilate and his Roman soldiers Jesus would not have been nailed to the cross. With these words it’s almost as if Pilate is saying to them ‘if I can’t completely get my way regarding this Jesus neither will you.’ Today, along with these, each of us are called to confront our part in Jesus’ death and what this means for us. Generation after generation all people are called to ask ‘what does Jesus’ cross and passion mean?’ and ultimately to ask, ‘who is this Jesus truly?’
Our churches believe, teach and confess that this Jesus is the Son of God who in His incarnation, assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary in such a way that there are two natures—the Divine and the human—inseparably joined in one person and because this is the case there is one Christ, and this One Christ is true God and true man born of the Virgin Mary. And our churches believe, teach and confess that this inseparably joined true God and true man truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. Jesus did this to reconcile us to His heavenly Father and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, original sin inherited from Adam, but also for all actual sins of mankind. Yes this Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
If someone attempts to teach you otherwise concerning Jesus, regardless of how well meaning they may be, they are liars: If someone no matter how educated and clever in the ways and philosophies of the world attempts to teach you that Jesus was not Divine, not God, not the inseparably joined true God and true man but only a man—that is if they believe He’d even existed at all—they are liars; if someone tries to teach you that Jesus didn’t have to die for you or for the sins of the whole world and that the Father could have fudged the rules to save you and mankind if He’d wanted to they are liars; if someone tries to teach you that what Jesus accomplished in His suffering and death upon that Roman Cross of His crucifixion wasn’t enough to save you, that somehow in addition to Jesus’ work there upon the cross a person needs to do something extra to truly be forgiven they are liars. This Jesus found in human form was obedient to His heavenly Father even unto death on the cross in order to atone for your sins, all of them, and to provide for you the way back to the Father; so it is that Saint John, who stood at the foot of the cross as witness to the sufferings and death of Jesus, teaches us that, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” Of this John is adamant, when he says, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He made to us—eternal life.”
So yes, “God loved the world in this way, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” These familiar words from the Gospel of Saint John are Jesus’ words, and Jesus continues to teach, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” Remember what Saint Luke records in His Gospel about Jesus’ crucifixion when the bloodied and beaten Jesus nailed to the cross prays to His heavenly Father on behalf of the scoffers and mockers and faithless onlookers and for the very ones who were bringing about His death, the ones who drove the nails, spat on Him, crowned Him with thorns, and cast dice for His garments after they’d stripped Him bear, Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Although He had every right to Jesus doesn’t condemn them as His life blood runs from His body, as He struggles to breath under the weight of His weary frame, He doesn’t say ‘to hell with you for your sin against Me!,’ no Jesus pleads for their forgiveness. Jesus trusts without fault that He’s nailed there upon the cross for their salvation, nailed there not only by the nails of the Roman soldiers but nailed their also by His love for you and by His love even for His enemies, even for those who’d cried out, “crucify Him, crucify Him!” This is why Jesus taught in John chapter 3 that, “whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because [they have] not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Christ crucified, for them and for all people, is a call to repentance. Dear ones each of us only has this one life to live in which to believe, and “as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, [the writer of the book of Hebrews teaches] so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” Conversely Christ will not be coming a second time to save those who are not eagerly waiting for Him, with such as these the LORD will deal with their sin in the final judgment.
This is why it’s good to consider also how Scripture teaches that we were all enemies of God, as terrible as the ones who plotted and executed His death, and yet in Jesus’ death upon His Good Friday Cross, “while we were [yet still] enemies [of God the Father] we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” How is this reconciliation directly applied to you? Saint Paul teaches that all Christian who “have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Our faith, our baptism ties us to the passion of Christ, ties us to His cross and death and to His Resurrection and the promise of eternal life in Him, it makes Jesus our bother and His Father our true Father. And now when the Father looks at us He sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus covering us like a pure white robe, we no longer stand uncovered clothed only in the sin stained rags of our personal unrighteousness and fallen nature. This Good News is tied to Christ Jesus and His Cross.
Even so some people hate Good Friday and can’t see why we would come together to hear how our Saviour brutally died and what that means for us. They want to run from the cross and the gruesome nature of Jesus’ crucifixion. They want to focus first and foremost on the Easter lilies of the empty garden tomb, the stone rolled away; they want nothing but a Jesus whose voice is so sweet it causes the birds hush their singing, a Jesus who puts a ringing melody within their heart, who will be for them only as they walk alone with Him among the dewy roses of the garden. They don’t want the cross on Good Friday or on any other day ‘thank you very much.’ It is offensive. And yet this is not what we are called to as Christians, Saint Paul teaches, “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,”
What is the tomb empty of? It’s empty of Jesus’ dead body. What is Jesus resurrected from? He’s resurrected from the dead. What are you saved from? You are saved from yourself, from the World, from Sin, from the Devil and from Death. Faith without the crucifixion is bloodless and empty. Think on this: the infant Christ Jesus cannot be in the manger in Bethlehem without first being in the womb of the Virgin Mary. On Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day, we consider how a baby carried to term in a place He should not be—virgins untouched by men do not have babies—finds Himself there in the Virgin Mary’s womb, in spite of this fact, out of love for you; and today we are called to consider how the innocent sinless son of God found Himself in a place He should likewise not have been as one nailed to an instrument of death meant for the public humiliation and execution of criminals—men who commit no crimes are not supposed to die in that way—yet in spite of this fact Jesus finds Himself stretched out upon the wood of the cross out of love for you. The virgin birth, the cross, the empty tomb are all stumbling blocks for some in our world today just as they have been throughout all of time and they are likewise foolishness for others yet for we who believe they are “the power of God [in Christ] and the wisdom of God.” [And by the grace of God, we trust that] the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” So we as Christians embrace the cross and Jesus’ crucifixion because it is the very place of our reconciliation, it’s where our sin has died, where our death has died, where the devil who needles us daily lost his rebellious fight, where Jesus overcame the world that we would have peace, where we find rest for our soul under the outstretched arms of Jesus. Jesus’ crucifixion is the center point of history, from the beginning all things lead to that hill, on that day, outside the walls of Jerusalem and from there all history unfolds: you cannot have Christ Jesus and not have that day, you cannot have reconciliation with the Father and not have that day, you cannot have forgiveness of your sins and not have that day, you cannot have the promised eternal life and not have that day. This day belongs to you.
See how tightly entwined your eternal life is with the death of your Lord Jesus upon His Good Friday Cross: Saint Paul confesses: “We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, [Saint Paul teaches] we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.” And because neither death nor life, nor anything else in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord we know that for the Christian, in Christ, death no longer has dominion over us either. The cross then is good news for you and for all people.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [they are] a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, [Saint Paul confesses] we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us [to a world undone by sin]. We implore you on behalf of Christ, [Paul pleads] be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So today we say with the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:
“Surely [this Jesus] has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But [our dear Lord Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with [Jesus’] wounds we are healed.”
Dear ones it’s as though Jesus says to you, “Look, I would rather have this cross than you have it; I would rather have the wrath of God [over your sins poured over Me] than you have it; I would rather endure all this suffering than for you to suffer.” The crucifixion is not an example of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus it is God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, and so we make it our own because without it we do not have salvation.
Generation after generation all people are called to ask ‘what does Jesus’ cross and passion mean?’ and ultimately to ask, ‘who is this Jesus truly?’ He is the one who reconciles you to His heavenly Father, His cross and passion means you are free from the expectation of having to accomplishing this for yourself; you now stand freely forgiven for all your own botched attempts at self righteousness; it means you are justified by Christ’s true goodness not by whatever paltry goodness or merit you can muster on your own; it mean God died and lives to give you eternal life and of this you can be eternally grateful. When Jesus, with His last words before death, says, “It is finished” in that moment your reconciliation with the Father was finished. And finally dear ones, Jesus’ cross and passion means, when you face suffering you have a God who knows firsthand what suffering is, and when you face death you have a God who has faced death Himself, for this reason you are never alone, He is ever with you; this is who Jesus truly is, He is the one who is with you all your days in your good times and in your joy and happiness but also with you in your suffering and even in death. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 3:16
 1 Peter 2:22
 John 19:6
 Matthew 27:18
 Matthew 27:24
 The Son of God, Article III, the Augsburg Confession; Concordia The Lutheran Confessions, Pocket Edition, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Page 35.
 John 1:29
 1 John 2:2
 Philippians 2:8
 John 14:1-6
 Luke 23:34
 John 19:6
 Hebrews 9:27–28
 Romans 5:10
 Romans 6:3–4
 1 Corinthians 1:23
 1 Corinthians 1:24–25
 Romans 6:6–9
 Romans 8:38–39
 2 Corinthians 5:17–21
 Isaiah 53:4–5
 Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, Good Friday: What I wish my Non-Lutheran Family Understood About, IssuesEtc episode March 30th 2023.
Photo Credits: Main Photo tinted detail of Christ Crucified from pexels; detail of Christ crucified with inscription from pexels; detail of Christ crowned with thorns from pexels; detail of Christ removed from cross for burial from rawpixel; detail of Christ with angels from pexels.