by Ed Blonski. The posts on this site are my own personal opinions. They are not read or approved by St. Matthew Lutheran Church and School, Hawthorn Woods, IL before posting and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of St. Matthew Lutheran Church & School.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in the dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6
Job had heard of God from Elihu. Before that he had heard of God via “oral tradition.” His father told him of God. His grandfather had told his father. His father told him and his father’s father’s father had told him.
This was how knowledge of God was told, through families and friends telling others about what God had done in the past.
On occasion God intervened and interacted directly with people. Noah, for instance. Abraham is another example. Jacob yet another one.
But less and less, apparently, by the time Job comes along (a couple of generations after Jacob).
Job was a special case, though. If anyone ever needed to hear directly from the Lord, it was Job! And this is exactly what Job had been seeking.
But be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!
Fast forward 1800 years. It is just after sunset of a very momentous day.
The women in the group came banging on the door very early in the morning.
“Angels!” they said. “Tomb empty!” they exclaimed. “He’s alive!” they shouted!
Then two other disciples rushed up the stairs and into the room – the dust of the road to Emmaus still clinging to them.
“He spoke to us!” they announced! “He broke bread for us!” they further explained, in awe.
Then Jesus was suddenly there with them. Even though the door was locked, there he stood.
“Peace be to you.”
But Thomas was elsewhere. He came back later and they all told him, mostly all at once!
“Angels!” “Tomb empty!” “He’s alive!” “He spoke to us!” “He broke bread for us!”
He gave us his peace!
“I hear you speak of him with my ears, but I won’t believe until I see with my eyes and hands!”
Once week later, Jesus shows up again.
“Peace be to you.”
This time Thomas is there. He hears. He sees. He touches. He believes.
“My Lord and my God!”
Like Job, Thomas repents of his unbelief. Like Job, Thomas is forgiven and restored.
Like Thomas, Job will also intercede for others. Thomas will take the Gospel of the resurrected Lord to the world.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25
“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” has been a hymn that has been sung at the past 22 Easter Sunday worship services of which I have been presiding or preaching minister.
It also is used at the vast majority of funerals that I have presided or preached at for the last 22 years.
This hymn by Samuel Medley is very popular because of the amazing message that he put in it – the Easter message.
The phrase “He lives” is repeated thirty times over eight stanzas.
Anything repeated that often in a song or poem must be important. And so it is!
That Jesus is alive is incredibly good news. It is the best news of all.
After Jesus died a gruesome death on the cross – and there was no doubt he was dead, no one could survive what Jesus went through – three days later he was alive.
That is the question this hymn answers.
Jesus lives to: save, rule his Church, grant me rich supply, guide me, comfort me, hear my soul’s complaint, silence my fears, wipe away my tears, calm my troubled heart, impart blessings, bless me, plead for me, feed my soul, love me, grant me daily breath, my mansion to prepare, to bring me safely there (to my mansion).
That’s quite a list!
And yet, that’s only part of the Easter message!
Jesus bled and died to save you and I from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.
As we learn from the Book of Job, the devil has some pretty powerful weapons in his arsenal. He’s able to destroy Job’s wealth, his family, and very nearly his health.
But God is more powerful than the devil – no surprise there. The creator is always more powerful than his creation.
But what makes God most powerful is not strength, or weapons, or tactics.
It is something that Satan doesn’t have. Something that we desperately need.
What makes God powerful is love.
God loves us. Even amid death and despair, God’s love is more powerful than anything else.
That’s why Job can say, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
That’s why Jesus goes to the cross to die.
God’s love for us!
And now it’s our turn.
It is Easter Sunday and it is time to celebrate God’s love. Sing a hymn of praise, shout that Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Spend time with your church family. Spend time with your blood family.
But come Easter Monday, it is time to respond to God’s love.
Tell someone else that you know that your Redeemer lives!
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. John 19:38-39
Death has a way of changing things.
It certainly changes the person who has died, no doubt about that.
They once were breathing, then they are not.
Their heart was once beating, then it was not.
Death also changes those who are left alive.
A son must go on living while his mother is now dead.
A wife must go on living while her husband is now dead.
A father must go on living while his daughter is now dead.
Those who remain alive – after the death of someone they love – continue to live but in a new reality. The new reality of having memories of the person who has died but not the person themselves.
The death of Jesus changes people, too. But with a twist.
For Joseph and Nicodemus, the death of Jesus changed them. It changed them to the core.
While Jesus was alive, Joseph was a secret follower. He was afraid of what other people might think of him for believing in Jesus.
While Jesus was alive, Nicodemus would only come to Jesus under the cover of darkness. He didn’t want others to know that he was intrigued by Jesus.
But the death of Jesus changed them completely.
Right after Jesus died, Joseph was no longer afraid of what others will think of him. He asked Pilate for control of the corpse. He publically takes Jesus to his own new tomb.
Right after Jesus died, Nicodemus – in the full light of what was left of the day – helps carry the body to Joseph’s tomb.
The death of Jesus changed these two men. They would never be the same again.
What about you?
Will the death of Jesus change you? Or will this day after the commemoration of the death of Jesus that Christians call “Good Friday” be the same kind of Saturday as all others?
I pray that you will be changed. For death changes a person.
But the death of Jesus changes a person because of this one twist – He didn’t stay dead!
Heavenly Father, because of our sins, Jesus died on the cross. Not a travesty of injustice, but a planned act of love. Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son to be our Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. I pray that the death of Jesus will change all people. I pray that Christians everywhere will no longer be afraid of others knowing that they follow Jesus. I pray that Christians will gather in churches around the world this weekend to worship You and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I pray that these same Christians will then leave the pews and go out into the world and proclaim that death changes people and that the death of Jesus can change everyone who believes. And most of all, I thank you that Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose victoriously on Easter and is alive forevermore! This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Good Friday is the day we remember that God who became man died by crucifixion. Jesus of Nazareth was not just some prophet or preacher in first century Palestine. He was born of a woman – Mary – but was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. He is “God Incarnate” – True and Fully God while at the same time True and Fully Man.
I cannot prove this “empirically” or “scientifically.” I can only point to what I believe to be overwhelming evidence: The Bible; the history of first, second and third century followers of Jesus who staked their very lives on the fact that Jesus Christ was both God and Man who died on the cross; and the billions of followers who live lives of faith in Jesus Christ today and have been for nearly 2000 years.
Good Friday was the day that Jesus – the God-Man – died by crucifixion. On the face of it, it would appear to be a mistake added to a political vendetta by religious leaders of the day added to the cowardice or ineffectiveness of the Roman governor.
But it was not. This day that changed the world forever was something else entirely.
As Jesus hung on the cross – at the end of six hours of agony – we are told this, from John’s Gospel:
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.– John 19:30
What, exactly, was “finished”? “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). All that was needed to forgive our sins was finished by Jesus on Good Friday.
St. Paul put it this way, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
On Good Friday, on this day that changed the world, your sins were forgiven.
All of them.
Do you believe it?
Many people have a hard time believing this. They want to believe that their sins are forgiven, but they just can’t get past the seemingly lack of any evidence that their sins actually are forgiven. The seemingly lack of evidence that Jesus Christ actually died for their sins and rose from the dead.
It fact, it seems to make more sense to not believe it.
Certainly there is more evidence that Good Friday and all that Jesus did on that day, didn’t happen, right?
May I remind you that there was more evidence that the world was flat – until Leif Ericson, Christopher Columbus and many others did not sail off the end of the world.
There was also more evidence that the sun moved in the sky – from east to west – than there was that the earth actually orbited the sun – that is until Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo proved otherwise.
Yet, in the 2000 years since the first Good Friday, there has never been any credible evidence to suggest that Jesus Christ did not die for the sins of the world. If fact, the evidence still powerfully suggests that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God who died and rose again to reconcile the world to God.
The most powerful evidence, to me, is the fact that this day that changed the world still changes people – billions of people today.
The death of Jesus changes us. Remember, Jesus’ death was not an accident or an act of vengeance or cowardice. It was an act of love. God’s love for you and for me.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.– John 3:16
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
This instrument of execution was forever changed on the day that changed the world into a symbol of the greatest love there has ever been or will ever be.
This day that changed the world is the day to remember:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.– 2 Corinthians 5:17
But why? And what is the big deal with changing the world, anyway? I think you will all agree with me that something in this world needs to change.
The truth is that the world is changing every day. Most of the time, not for the better either. In fact, the only unchanging constant is that there is change!
This world was once perfect. But sin changed all that, as you well know. Death got a death-grip on us and will not let us go unless something changes.
But that change will not come from within ourselves. That change will not come from a world leader. That change will not come from a court-ruling.
No, the only thing that will change death’s grip on us is the death of death itself. When Jesus died on the cross, our very lives were changed. The death of Jesus has freed us from the bondage of sin, death, and the power of the devil.
The death of Jesus on the cross made the most powerful change this world has ever seen. His death bought your heart back from death. His death gives you new life.
Now, what are you going to do with that life? Look to the cross to see how far God went to give you a new heart, a new life!
Jesus Christ died for you. Jesus Christ gave up His life to give you your life.
Don’t waste His death! Live the life Jesus died to give you!
Love others as God loves! Serve others as Jesus serves!
Reach out to the person who is hurting. Lift up the person who is downtrodden. Guide the person who is lost.
At the end of the very powerful movie “Saving Private Ryan” Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Miller, tells Private Ryan – after so many men died in order to return him home safely to his family, “Earn this.”
Robert Rodat – the writer of the screenplay – meant, I think, “Ryan, don’t waste these men’s efforts and lives in order to save you. Live a life worthy of being saved. Make it your life’s goal and purpose to make a difference in the lives of everyone you meet.” But, of course, that’s too wordy! “Earn this!” sounds so much better!
Of course you can’t earn what happened on the cross. You can’t earn salvation. Like Captain Miller and all the other men who died to save Private Ryan, Jesus died before you could do anything to earn it.
St. Paul says it best, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
This is the day – Good Friday – to remember to live a life with the goal and purpose of making a difference in the lives of everyone you meet!
Jesus said, in the Gospel reading from last night (Maundy Thursday), “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13: 34).
That’s what Good Friday is for. That’s what we remember of this day that changed the world.
May God’s love for you in Christ Jesus, who died for you on Good Friday, change you forever to love and live for Him. Amen.
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
Pontius Pilate points at Jesus and says, “Behold the man!”
The Jewish Leaders point at Jesus and say, “…he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
Jesus is the man. He is all mankind reduced to one person.
He takes the sins of all mankind, from Adam to the last baby that will ever be conceived, and they become His sins.
And for those sins, he will die. Willingly. Lovingly. To save us all.
The Original Sin is that we make ourselves God. Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the fruit in the garden saying, “You will be like God!”
All the sin that mankind commits can be reduced to that one, Original Sin.
So Jesus becomes all of mankind. “Behold the man!”
Jesus takes all of mankind’s sins upon himself. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Jesus the King enters Jerusalem on a donkey. He fulfills prophecy and shows that He is the Prince of Peace, not a conquering King.
But the Peace that Jesus brings will be brought by conquering evil, conquering sin, and conquering the devil.
First stop, the Temple. Jesus drives out those who have turned it into a “den of robbers.”
The King who rides a donkey brings peace back to the Temple of God. Instead of selling, buying, and turning a profit, people will be able to pray to God in peace.
In a few days, Jesus will open the way to God forever by removing the Temple Curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in the Temple.
Jesus brings peace by removing the barriers between man and God. Barriers that man first built up by his son, and barriers that needed to be put into place by God to protect man.
Jesus removes our sin with His sacrificial death on the cross. And takes down the barriers erected by God because when sin is removed, God can safely be approached.