For the Fourth Friday in Lent (St. John 5:18-30)
The judgment of the Son of God is just: Those who have done good are raised to life; those who have done evil are subject to condemnation, punishment and death.
But what is the good and gracious will of God that Jesus seeks to do and accomplish? It is to raise you from death, even you who are sinful and unclean, who have done the evil and not the good.
It is for this purpose that He has come from the bosom of the Father, down from heaven: To judge you not guilty but righteous, by His grace.
In doing so, He has not "made Himself" the Son of God; He has not "made Himself" equal to God. For He is the only-begotten Son of God, God from God by nature, from all eternity, forever.
But He has not clung to His equality with God (not the way that you selfishly cling to what you suppose to be your own). He has rather humbled Himself and become obedient, even unto death. He has first of all become flesh and blood, true Man, like you. And then He has also made Himself nothing, that is, subject to the curse of sin and death.
He has made Himself the Son of Man — your substitute, your Savior and Redeemer — in order to make you a son of God by grace.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the almighty and eternal Son of God — the Word who was in the beginning with God; the Word who is God, by whom all things were made — He has put Himself in your place, in order to give you His place with God the Father in heaven.
The good deeds that you have failed to do, He has done for you — for your benefit, as also on your behalf. And for the evil that you have done (and still do!), He has suffered the judgment of death and damnation.
What would have crushed and destroyed you forever, He has defeated in His own person, in His own flesh, by His own death. For He has been crucified, dead and buried, laid to rest in a tomb; but from thence has He come forth, opening the way of life, the way of peace and rest, for you.
This is the Word that God the Father has spoken: His own Son in the flesh, even unto death. That in calling forth His Son from death and the grave, the Son has received authority to call forth sinners from death to life: From sin and death to forgiveness and life — from unbelief to faith — from unrighteousness to righteousness — from the tomb into heaven.
It is by His Voice of the Gospel — His spoken Word of Absolution — that He, the Son of Man, the Crucified and Risen One, calls you out of darkness into His Light; out of your grave into His Resurrection.
Hear His Voice and come forth! Do not harden your heart. Repent of your evil deeds, your obstinance and unbelief, your stubborn doubts and fears. Repent of your sin, and obey His Voice: not by doing, but believing.
Justice and righteousness are not satisfied by your keeping of the Law (even if you could and did), but by the Cross of Christ and in His Resurrection from the dead. The Hour has come, and now is, when He speaks that Word to you, and by His Voice He grants His Resurrection and His Life to you.
Hear His Voice and believe His Word: Your sins are forgiven. You are not guilty. You shall not die, but live forever. God is your Father, and you are His child. Come then, find your Sabbath Rest in Christ, His Son, who has made Himself your Savior.