02 April 2010

Good Friday

Your sin is killing you, because it moves you away from God, who is your life, and it cuts you off from Him.

The further away you fall, the more you are accused — by the Law, by the devil, by your conscience, and by your experience in this fallen world — and the more and more frightened you become: Frightened, not only of death, but of your Father!

You know what it is like to be out of favor with Dad; your whole life is miserable.

But now we pray, with Christ and His whole Church, that God our Father in heaven would look upon us graciously and behold us as His family, His own dear children, in peace.

Beloved of the Lord, He does so behold you graciously, in Christ Jesus, for His sake.

Therefore, hold fast the confession of your Holy Baptism, of Christ and His Gospel, His Father and His Spirit, and His great salvation. And in that confession, draw near with confidence to this throne of grace, by availing yourself of the Gospel in the means of grace; by approaching His Altar in faith, here to receive His Body and His Blood with thanksgiving; that you may receive mercy and grace to help in every need and at the hour of death.

For Christ has atoned for all your sins, and for all the world’s sin, by bearing and suffering your sin and its punishment, and by giving His life — in His Blood — for you.

Your sin cannot harm you, because Christ has removed it from you, taken it upon Himself, into His own Body, and He has willingly allowed it to harm Him, to hurt Him, to kill Him. And He has prevailed in this fight against sin and death, so that all its power has been destroyed.

The same Lord Jesus has also taken you to Himself and made you His own; not by demanding His right as your Creator, but by redeeming you with His Blood. He has purchased you, won you, rescued you, and delivered you from all captivity of body and soul, of fear and anger, of sin and death.

In Him, you also are made brand new, recreated in the Image and Likeness of God — for that divine Image is Christ in His own flesh, the Incarnate Son. So that you now live by grace through faith in His forgiveness, by His Word and Holy Spirit.

He lovingly gathers you up into Himself, and as your merciful and great High Priest, He reconciles you to the Father; He returns you and restores you to His household and family. So you find by the very fact that you are gathered together in and with His Church to hear His Word and receive His gifts!

He has reconciled you and all the world, all of creation, to His God and Father, by coming in the flesh as true Man; and not only that, but by living as true Man in faith and love, even humbling Himself to bear the burden and curse of sin, and submitting Himself wholeheartedly, in body and soul, entirely to the will of His Father for your salvation, and becoming obedient even to the point of His Crucifixion.

In this, He has been tempted in all ways as you are, yet without sinning in thought, word or deed. His perfect obedience and sinless life are your bulwark against all temptation, and your irrefutable plea against all accusations of sin and death, because He has lived this life of His for you.

Though He is the beloved and well-pleasing Son of God from all eternity, He has also learned obedience, faith and love, and sonship in His own human flesh like yours — by faithfully enduring the things which He suffered in your place and on your behalf. So that now you receive His Sonship as your own, by that faith which He obtains in you by His forgiveness of all your sins and by the gracious gift of life in Himself through the Gospel. For that is what the Gospel is and what it does.

This, too, is what it means for Christ Jesus to be your great High Priest, who has passed through death into life for you, into the heavens, to the Holy of Holies made without hands; to the very presence of God, indeed, to the bosom of the Father.

That is where He is, and that is where you are now, in Him, by grace through faith in His Gospel. Your life is hidden with Christ in God, and you also are a beloved and well-pleasing son.

In the days of His flesh and suffering, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears — so do not suppose that He does not know your tears and sorrows, since He has taken them to be His own. He has so prayed to His Father, whom He knew and trusted as the One who would save Him out of death. And He was heard because of His piety. He was vindicated in His Resurrection from the dead. He has prospered in His suffering and death; He is high and lifted up and greatly exalted in this Glory of His Cross, which is manifested in His Resurrection.

So that you, also, dear one, are heard and answered, vindicated and raised from death to life, because of His piety!

For having been made perfect in His flesh, through His voluntary suffering and sacrificial death for the sins of the world, He has become eternal salvation to all who believe and are baptized into Him.

Therefore, you shall not perish but have eternal life.

Your Father is not angry or upset; He is not unhappy or displeased with you; He does not punish you or cast you out; He does not turn His face away, nor turn His back on you. But here He gladly welcomes you and receives you to Himself in Christ Jesus.

Hold fast to this confession of your Baptism into Christ. And draw near with confidence to this throne of grace: by faith in His life-giving Cross; but so also with your body, in piety and with thanksgiving, by receiving His Body into yours, which He gives you to eat, and by drinking His holy and precious blood with your mouth, as He gives you to drink, for the forgiveness of all your sins. And so, beloved, be at Peace.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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