Noon April 23, 2011
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Nails. Thorns. Blood.
Hoisted up upon the cross, lifted up from the earth, hangs the Virgin´s innocent Son. Horror and strife! What have we done? What retribution can we expect? We, of unclean lips, impure hearts, we killed the messengers again and again, and now, we´ve killed the Prince. We´ve been caught - red-handed, with our pants down. There is no excuses for our greed or our lust. The Law demands our death. We nailed God to the cross. What hope is there for us?
And yet, amidst this sorrow and injustice, the Divine grace and mercy of the Christ are quite evident. The Father´s love is revealed. Our hope is in that innocent death. For He is not like us. He is not like His accusers. He is not like cowardly Pilate or the cruel soldiers. Even while He suffers their violence and their scorn, even while He dies, He forgives them. He forgives those who murder Him. He promises a malefactor paradise. He looks after His mother.
Was there ever love so selfless, so concerned for another? What kind of a man lays down His life for His enemies? What kind of a God takes back those who kill His Son? The Messiah awaited by Abraham, that is who.
Here is the heart and will of Christ: He dies that we live. He dies for our salvation. He endures Hell so that we are spared and have fellowship with Him. He is forsaken, so that we, malefactors all, are accepted! There is no retribution. There is only grace, forgiveness, peace, and hope. We adore the cross and glory in it. For He who killed His Son in our place, even the Father, will not kill us. That is His will and His love. That is the sacrifice that leaves us clean and declares us to be holy and right.
He finishes it. He loves us to the end. The Father´s wrath is placated. Justice has been served. The ransom is paid. It is complete. There is no more. The Cup is empty. The serpent´s head is crushed. The devil is cast down. Man is reconciled to the Father. The Victory is won. Hell has depleted its arsenal. It has nothing more to demand. It is finished.
He commends His soul to God. He dies before they break His legs. The centurion´s spear sets free the water and the Blood. He is dead. The stuff of Life - water and Blood - came pouring out of Him for us. The blood of Abel has now been silenced. Hell´s fire has been quenched. And that Blood that speaks a better thing, is poured into our hearts by way of our mouths, and we are purified, justified, sanctified. We are made one with Him.
Baptism is now valid. The Communion is now real. The absolution takes effect. And faith saves. Because Jesus Christ, of His own perfect and free will, died on the cross for our sins and rose again for our justification. Death is dead. Life lives. The tomb is empty.
Nails, thorns, blood? Yes, and more: empty grave clothes, scars that bear witness of the sacrifice, peace in the upper room, salvation from above, a new family, and a future home. All because Jesus died and rose again. Blessed is He. He does all things well.
In +Jesus Name. Amen.