Friday, April 14, 2017

Sermon for Good Friday: "Jesus' 7th Word on the Cross"

+ Good Friday – April 14th, 2017 +
Jesus’ 7th Word on the Cross
Luke 23:46
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

During this season of Lent, we have reflected and meditated upon, heard, sung, read, marked, and inwardly digested Jesus’ last seven words on the cross.

For his oppressors, he prayed and interceded: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

To his mother, he said: “Woman, behold your son.” And to John, his beloved disciple: “Behold your mother.”

To the penitent, believing thief Jesus promised: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

To God the Father he lamented, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

In anguish, he cried: “I thirst!”

In triumph, he declared: “It is finished!”

Jesus’ last words were spoken to those around him: the Jews, Romans, and religious leaders; the thief next to him, his disciples, and the faithful women who accompanied him. But Jesus also spoke these words for you even as he died on the cross for you.

Today, on Good Friday, we hear his seventh and final word from the cross to us.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

As Jesus speaks this final word on the cross, everything that brought him to this place comes to mind.

Jesus traveled from Bethlehem to Egypt and back again, from Galilee to Samaria, and throughout all Judea, and finally into Jerusalem. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, tempted in the wilderness, and Transfigured before his disciples. Jesus fed thousands, healed countless people of their diseases, cast out demons, and taught in their streets and synagogues. All his miracles, signs, and wonders; his Palm Sunday procession, his Last Supper with the disciples, his betrayal by Judas, Peter’s denial, his trials with before the Herod, Pilate, and the Jews; the long, agonizing death march to Calvary; it all leads to this. Jesus’ seventh, and final, word on the cross.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. 

As Jesus speaks this final word on the cross, our Lord’s mighty works of old come to mind.

In seven days, the Lord finished creation and called it very good. With his seventh word on the cross, our Lord finishes his work of redemption, gives up his spirit, and dies for us. The Lord who breathed the breath of life into Adam’s dusty lungs, breathes out his last to rescue and restore us children of Adam. The Lord who is the eternally begotten Son, left his throne to become our brother, reconcile us to the Father, and give us the right to be called children of God and call him Father. The Lord, whose hands bear those glorious red badges of our redemption, commends himself to his Father’s hands so that nothing and no one could eve snatch us out of his hands.

As Jesus speaks his final word on the cross, he prays to God the Father. But he also prays for you, and in doing so, gives you a prayer as well.

Like Moses tucked in the cleft of the rock, we are safe in Jesus’ pierced hands. When our last hour comes and we draw our final breath, by God’s grace, we join Jesus in praying: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. This is Jesus’ prayer of faith and trust in his Father. And by our Baptism into his death, this prayer becomes our prayer of faith and trust in our heavenly Father.

Today we join Jesus in praying the words of Psalm 31:
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

We pray these words knowing the end of the story. That Jesus’ cross is our victory. That Jesus’ death is our life. That Jesus is crucified to save us.

Today the devil loses.

Today death is dead.

Today our sin is banished.

Today you are redeemed.

Today we hear Jesus’ last words on the cross – Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. – knowing that even though they are his last words on the cross, they are not his last words to us.

In three short days, Jesus will speak to us everlasting words:

Thus, it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.

A blessed Good Friday to each of you…

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

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