Sermon: MARCH 31, 2019

Six weeks ago, we began this series by noting that, in his gospel, Luke paid particular attention to the prayer life of Jesus. We pointed-out numerous times when the disciples found Jesus ‘in prayer’ and/or ‘in fellowship’ with the Father. Now, the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father may seem a bit confusing since Jesus is “very God of very God,” and “of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made.” That is to say, Jesus Christ is true God and the second person of the divine Trinity. He is One with the Father.

Yet, at the same time, we believe and confess that Jesus was, “incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.

And in His humanity and humility, Jesus was obedient to His Father’s will and purpose, which was to save us by suffering and dying on the cross for us. 

Six weeks ago we also noted that both the first and the last of our Wednesday Lenten services would focus on actual prayers our Lord prayed. On the first Wednesday evening, we fast-forwarded to Maundy Thursday, when heard our Lord in Gethsemane pray, “Father, if it is possible take this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” Now, on this last Wednesday, we fast-forward to Good Friday and the prayers Jesus spoke from the cross. On that day, there was not only physical pain and suffering, but also the loneliness of hell itself, when the Father broke-off all fellowship with His Son.

The man under the crown of thorns speaks, and the world hears the prayer of a dying man: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is to say, this is why I came here – to suffer and to die– that is why I am here.

We know what Jesus was praying for – forgiveness for the soldiers who had just pounded nails through the flesh and bones of His hands and feet. Likely the same soldiers who had mocked Him and pressed the crown of thorns into His scalp, who spat on Him, beat Him, whipped Him until He was half-dead, and found it all to be very entertaining. They did their jobs well, especially the men who nailed Him to His cross. ‘Father, forgive them, for they have become so calloused that they’re immune to human suffering.’ 

Or, perhaps Jesus was praying for the religious leaders in Jerusalem, who had become so blinded by their own legalistic righteousness that the denied and defied the very Son of God. The Pharisees had used all of their political influence and popularity with the people to get rid of God’s Son, just like in the Parable of the Vineyard Jesus had spoken to them. Or, perhaps Jesus was praying for the common folk, the people who had been so misled by the Pharisees they cried-out, “Let His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Can you imagine intentionally bringing blood-guilt onto your children? 

Or, perhaps Jesus was praying for us. After-all, we’re the sinful people Jesus had to suffer and die to save. Sometimes we realize our sinfulness, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we do God’s will, and other times we obey the devil and his will. Even the Apostle Paul had to confess, “The good I want to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want to do, that I do. Who will deliver me from this body of death

Delivering us from our sins, guilt, and death, was the whole reason Jesus, “…was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” 

Finally, after 6 hours on that black Friday, the task of saving us from our sins was completed. Jesus did everything the Father had asked Him to do, and He did it all to perfection. Now, He knew that it would all be over soon. The sun stopped shining – darkness came over the whole land for 3 hours. Jesus prayed, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.” And when he had spoken those words, He gave-up His Spirit and died. 3 days later, He emerged from His grave, victorious over sin, death, and the Devil.

His resurrection changed everything for us, strengthening and encouraging us, and opening for us the way to everlasting life. So, no matter how crippled you may be with arthritis and it’s pain in this life, it cannot touch you in God’s eternal Kingdom. Neither can heart disease, cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or any other disease. Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, is your Savior and your friend. And one by precious one, He will take your hand in His nail-scarred hand and lead you into the healing of God’s eternal Kingdom and your eternal home.