Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Good Friday
John 19
Bror Erickson

He who saw it has borne witness- his testimony is true, and he knows the he is telling the truth- that you may also believe.

And God dies. Jesus, the son of man, the son of God, the God man, fully God, very God of very God, dies on the cross. It is strange. Evidently people normally lived longer than Jesus. Jesus had no will to live. He dies. He gives up His spirit.
Some people debate whether He was really dead or not. They believe in the swoon theory, that Jesus just passed out and woke up 3 days later. I don’t much buy that. Here Jesus had been tortured, beaten and flogged, which in itself is almost enough to kill a man. Indeed it often did kill a man. It leaves Him so weak that He can’t even carry His own cross. Yet Pilate who watched the proceedings was still surprised by it. The others have to have their legs broken. Not Jesus. Had His legs been broken then it might be believable that He had just passed out. The soldiers, though, saw that He was dead. They have pretty good judgment in these things. They have been around it enough. But just to make sure they pierce Him with a spear. Water and blood have already separated and come flowing out of His side. He had been dead a while. They pierced Him enough to kill Him if He wasn’t dead all ready. That was the point. And it isn’t hard to get a kill on a man stretched out for crucifixion. The soldiers were trained to do it in battle. Trained to kill. They knew where to put the spear to kill a man. How far in to thrust it. It was a sure thing if it hadn’t been already. And bodies don’t just heal from that. A good piercing with a spear is beyond the help even of a doctor. Jesus was dead.
But John says some curious things. He says that He tells you this that you may believe. John puts a lot of emphasis on belief. From beginning to end John talks about the importance of faith, of believing. He won’t let go of it. You might think He is Paul’s alter personality. John is writing for a purpose and that is that you might believe in Jesus Christ, and believing have eternal life. It permeates the whole Gospel. Already in John’s day there were people who were discounting the cross. Already in John’s day there were people who were grabbing on to the name of Jesus and attributing false doctrines to it. John wants to set the record straight. He was there. He saw. He is reliable. Are you calling him a liar? He saw Jesus die, saw Him dead. His testimony is true. What do I care about your testimony. And John stresses this most right here, at the death of Jesus. Dead. Dead, Dead. And John seems to think it is important that Jesus is dead. And that you believe He died.
Why is it so important? Because our salvation rests on it. Our salvation is impossible if Jesus has not died. Because if he has not died, than he has not died for our sins. Then he has not become a propitiation for our sins, and atonement for our sins. If he has not died then he has not been a substitution for our death. And conversely if He did die, then He died for our sins and has become our salvation. If He died then He died for you, He died for me, He died for all of us, and His words “It is finished” mean it. Our salvation is complete. Not in our works, but in His death.
That is what it means to be a Christian, that is what it means to believe in Christ. It means believing that Christ died for our sins, and accomplished our salvation. It does not mean that we listen to Him trying to figure out what we are supposed to do to live. Oh faith in him inspires imitation of him. But it does not demand it. Believing in Jesus is not the same as believing in Moses.
[17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 (ESV)
We dare not make Jesus another Moses. This would be the greatest of sins, a blasphemy of blasphemies. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, neither did He come to replace it with a new law, for there is only one law, the law of Moses. Read it. Read it again THE LAW was given through Moses; “The” normally indicates one. Here the only one, The Law it was given through Moses. To believe in Moses is to believe in that law that was given through him. It is to believe that salvation could be accomplished by doing that law and living it. But we cannot live the law. We break the law. And I have even heard people call this the lesser law (Mormons). Mormons actually believe Moses gave a lesser law that would be easier for the people to keep! I can’t hardly believe that. I can’t hardly believe any one could believe such hideous lies. And of course the Israelites don’t keep them. No one can. Who here can honestly say they have kept even one of the commandments! Even one! Tell me. You want me to list them go ahead. Examine yourself. And Jesus doesn’t abolish the law! No. The law still condemns. The law still condemns you. It condemns you for loving yourself more than God. It condemns you for using His name blasphemously to spread lies. It condemns you for not resting on Saturday. It condemns you for not honoring your mother and father. It condemns you for murdering your neighbor, or turning a blind eye as they starve in the street. It condemns you for having lustful hearts. It condemns you for gossiping. It condemns you for stealing. Oh the law it is a vice, it condemns you for coveting and wishing that what belonged to your neighbor belonged to you. Are you serious a lesser law? And Jesus doesn’t come to abolish it, but fulfill it. And that He did. The only one ever, He lived a perfectly righteous life for you. He lived a perfectly righteous life in place of you. He lived the law of Moses because you couldn’t. That is what it means that He came in grace and truth. He did not come to give a law for us to live by, that had been done. No He came to die. And today He did so. He came to die, and He died for you. And John writes of His death that you might believe in it. Jesus died, He really died. And His death is your salvation.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.

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