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05 Holy Week 01 Good Friday

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For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Does it seem odd to talk about kingdoms and powers and glory on Good Friday?  I mean Easter sure.  That’s easy.  But this is Good Friday.  This is a day of agony, and suffering.  This is a day where the reality of our sins stare us hard in the face and … Well there is not much to feel good about on Good Friday. 

That is probably because it never feels good to have the realities of our sins and the struggles that they bring about out in the open.  It is uncomfortable and leaves us feeling uneasy, I would much rather go on my way and pretend that nothing is wrong.  And yet here we are, this afternoon.  It would be much less painful to fast-forward to Easter.  It would be much more fun to jump to the victory and celebration.  And yet, to do so, would mean not having a full and complete picture.  But it is also more than that.  Because Good Friday and Easter are two sides of the same coin.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Thine is the kingdom.   The soldiers took [Jesus] into their headquarters and called out the entire battalion.  17 They dressed him in a purple robe and made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head.  18 Then they saluted, yelling, "Hail! King of the Jews!"  19 And they beat him on the head with a stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship.  20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.  Ironic, don’t you think.  The reality here is that this is not just the king of the Jews, though he certainly is.  But he is the king of the universe.  And though he is worthy of praise, what he receives here is not worship, but a mocking.

And yet his kingdom is not like any kingdom known to human beings.  It is a kingdom beyond our world.  It is a kingdom where forgiveness and grace reign.  It is a kingdom where the greatest one is a servant.  It is a kingdom where enemies are prayed for and blessed.  It is a kingdom, where the king himself gives up his own life, out of the love that he has for his subjects.  It is a kingdom where the king takes upon himself the punishment of the people, so that they would be forgiven; so that they would know reconciliation and a relationship with him that lasts for all eternity.

This kingdom is one that does not end.  This kingdom is a present reality.  And even though we still are encumbered with and by sin, we find in this kingdom life and freedom.  This kingdom came near to us in Jesus Christ.  We were brought into this kingdom because of his death and resurrection.  This kingdom is not our kingdom, but his.  Thine is the kingdom.

And the power.  At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock.  34 Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.  36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a stick so he could drink. "Leave him alone. Let's see whether Elijah will come and take him down!" he said.  37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.  38 And the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.   We have a tendency to think of power in terms of the mighty.  Those who are able to exert their wills on others.  Form a purely human perspective, the power in this scene would be attributed to the soldiers and those who had Jesus crucified.  They were able to exert their will on him and seemingly force him into this position.  How is it that we can speak about power when this is the situation?

What looks like a lack of power on the surface, is actually a grand display of power in reality.  Because what is happening is not that the Romans are overpowering Jesus, but rather he is overpowering the devil, our sin, and the evil in this world.  This is an amazing amount of power, for no one has been able to accomplish for themselves what Jesus is here accomplishing on the cross for the world.

Because we are all sinful human beings.  Separated from God and from one another by our sins.  And left to that fate we would be eternally separated from God and from one another.  But that is not what happened, and Jesus in his power as true God and man, instead of using that power to defeat the Romans, he used it to defeat sin, death and the devil.

This power was seen in the tearing of the curtain in the temple.  The curtain in the temple covered the entrance to the Holy of holies.  This was the place where God dwelt.  Only the high priest was allowed to enter, and this was only one day out of the year.  That was the day of atonement.  The sins of God’s people would not allow this to be any other way, but here on the cross.  Jesus pays the price for that sin.  This gives us access to God, and so we find that there is no longer this separation by a curtain, for the curtain is needed no more.  His is the power.

And the glory. When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, "Truly, this was the Son of God!" It was on the cross that Jesus gave us access into his kingdom.  It was on the cross that he defeated the powers of sin death and the devil.  It was on the cross that his identity as God’s Son was demonstrated and made known.  This is his glory and it is a glory that lasts forever and ever.  It will never end it will never fade.  This glory is a glory that is shared with all who belong to him.  Neither earned or deserved by them, but freely given by him.

It is the glory of Good Friday, and a glory that is a present reality for us every day of our lives, for we know that our God is able to do all things.  And that his view of us, his position toward us is one of love and grace and mercy and forgiveness.  That glory is for us the promise of live that never ends.  And not just a life that is after death, but life that is before death as well.  For the glory of the Lord shines in our lives and gives to you and me and all the people of God, the strength and courage need to carry out the mission.  It gives to you and me the strength and courage needed to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that our Lord has taught us.  This is his glory. 

His kingdom, power and glory are ever present in our lives.  They will never end.  They will never fade.  They will simply be there forever and ever.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever. Though these lines from the Lord’s prayer are not your traditional Good Friday, sermon material, they do sum up all of what Good Friday is and the events that took place on the cross.  Therefore on this Good Friday, with somber hearts as we remember our Lord’s death, we also remember that while he was on that cross, his kingdom, power and glory were there, and they will continue forever and ever.  Amen.

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