The Face That Gives Me Peace / Good Friday April 18th, 2014 / John 1 / Pr. Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Good Friday 2014 / April 18th / The Light of Men Shines / John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
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. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of Men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." These words are from the Gospel of John, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us that as Jesus hung upon the cross, that first Good Friday, there was darkness over all the land for three hours. It started in the 6th hour, which is noon, 12 O'clock. In that darkness the Light of Men was nailed to the cross. In the Gospel of John, Jesus say of Himself, “I Am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Later in that same Gospel Jesus says, "As long as I Am in the world, I Am the Light of the world.” At the cross that Light is right down to a flicker, beaten, bloodied, the sacred head of Jesus looks down from the cross, looks down from the place to which they have lifted Him up and His face sees what? Amidst the various faces of the wicked and the righteous, in that darkness Jesus sees His mother.
In the Lutheran Service Book there is an Advent Hymn that starts with these words, "The angel Gabriel from heaven came, With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame:"We do not know what the angle Gabriel looks like, but we do know that he startled and frightened Mary when he arrived and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Mary then waited nine months to see Jesus' face. What would it be like? Would He have "eyes as flame" would He look like other children? Perhaps she remembered what Isaiah said "He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him." On the cross as she looked up at her son Jesus' face Isaiah's words ring true, who would desire to see this face, stricken, smitten and afflicted, this sacred head now wounded: Even though Jesus had Pontius Pilates words above His beaten face, words that read "King of the Jews," even still, as He hung there crowned with thorns there was no majesty, no beauty that any should desire Him, not by the worlds standards.
Yet to the Christian there is something beautiful and majestic in the midst of this horrifying scene, and why is that? It is because by the grace of God you have been given the faith to see in the darkness, eyes to see the light that shines from the face of Jesus at the cross. Jesus the Light of Men, Jesus the Light of the world shines down on you, and from His lips you hear the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” You know what happens next, you have heard what happens after Jesus breaths His last and dies, you have heard that He does not remain dead, that three days later on that first Easter morning He is raised from the dead, and because you know this you look at His face upon the cross and you see your salvation, salvation for the sins you do not know you are committing and salvation for the sins you do know you are committing. Forgiveness is there nailed to the wood of the cross and Forgiveness looks down on you.
At the end of almost every Service we have something called the Aaronic Benediction, it's called that because the LORD told Moses to tell Moses' brother Aaron to say these words to the people of Israel. They are so familiar and yet today you may see something new in them, one more piece of comfort in these sacred words, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD look upon you with favour and give you peace."
These words are fulfilled at the cross, from the cross Jesus who is the Light of the world, Jesus who is the Light of Men, shines upon you. From the cross He is gracious to you in an everlasting way, even when no grace was bestowed on Him there. From the face of Jesus at the cross comes your peace, and in His face you are blessed and even with His hands nailed to the cross no one can snatch you out of His hand, even in death - when His light is right out and God is dead - no one can snatch you out of His hand: At the cross, in the grave, at the resurrection and in eternity Jesus keeps you. You are His. And He loves you.
Hear these words from the Gospel of John Chapter 3: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
I look forward to the day when I will see Jesus face to face, when I will see with my own eyes the face that has so lovingly shone down on me all the years of my life, the face that shines down on me from the cross even as my sins nailed Him there, the face that forgives me, blesses me and keeps me, the face that gives me peace. 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 1:1-5
 Matthew 27:45
 Mark 15:33
 Luke 23:44
 John 8:12
 John 9:5
 John 8:28 "Jesus said to them, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me.'"
 The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pg 356.
 Luke 1:30-33
 Isaiah 53:2
 Luke 23:34
 Numbers 6:24-26
 John 10:28
 John 3:16-21
 Job 19:25-27