Sermon from March 25th, 2016

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“Good Friday - Only Jesus has the Words of Eternal Life”

John 1:1-14; John 8:32


By Pastor John Bent



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Sermon Text
One of the things we Christians sometimes miss as we gather together for worship on Good Friday is the sadness of sin.  The wickedness of human beings, the brokenness of our world is sad – deeply sad.

Grieving isn’t easy. We would rather avoid it. It causes us to feel so powerless.   We resist weeping because we don’t want to be seen as out of control. We’d rather skip right by Good Friday, go directly to Easter, colored eggs, bunnies, lilies.

But the reality is sin is sad.  What happened the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, the lies, illegal beatings, the injustice, the torture - all these things and far worse happen to innocent people even children every day around our world.  How sad.

The sadness of sin isn’t only about wickedness, it includes death, disease, drought, despair, divorce. Good Friday brings us face to face with how truly sad sin is. Jesus understood this.

He wept at his friend Lazarus’ tomb.  He wept over the city of Jerusalem.  He wept in Gethsemane.  His holy tears fell on the soil of this earth again and again as he walked among us.  If he wept over the consequences of sin, shouldn’t we?

One of the sad consequences of sin is that it hardens our hearts. It plugs our tears. It makes us incapable of seeing, feeling, recognizing the sadness of sin. Weeping over sin is not weakness. Weeping over the devastation of sin is empathy with the heart of God.

Interesting thing about weeping, it cancels our words. You can’t weep and pontificate at the same time. Maybe that’s why God said, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Words play an important part in the story of the cross.  Human words and God’s words are put in stark contrast.
 
Of all the gifts God has given to human beings, one of the greatest is the gift of words.  Words have great power. They can be used to lift up or tear down, kill or heal. Words can speak truth or tell lies, clarify or deceive.  Make peace or start wars.

We’ve heard a lot of words recently in the world of politics and the news media. Frankly, I’m getting a little weary of it all.  I find myself praying, “Lord, save us from lying and meaningless words.”  It’s as if Satan is doing everything he can to vandalize the holiness and the significance of words and make them meaningless, worthless.

That’s sad because words play a critical role in the story of our salvation.  The people who crucified Jesus misused God’s gift of words to deny him, curse him, mock him, ridicule him, scorn him, falsely accuse him, betray him, gossip about him. We’ve had all these kinds of words used against us.  And we’ve used our words to hurt others.  That’s very sad.

Some of the people who crucified Jesus shouted their words without even thinking. But some of them had thought a lot about the words they were using.  They had spent time crafting the perfect put-down, the perfect accusation, the perfect gossip.  Like a master swordsman, they knew how to wield their words to cut others in the deepest possible way.

They were experts in using the minimum number of words to inflect the greatest possible injury. They gloried in their power. They gloried in their ability to deceive others. How tragically sad that is.  Jesus wept about that – how about us?

Jesus warned us that the words that come out of our mouths reveal the condition of our hearts.  The words of the crowd, the soldiers, the religious leaders, even the disciples as Jesus was being crucified reveal the depth of their depravity.  Our words do the same.

Satan tempts us to misuse our words because he hates us.  His desire is to destroy us. He tricks us into participating in this behavior so he can use his words to accuse us and demand that God judge us, punish us and condemn us.  He’s right, we are guilty.

The condition of Satan’s heart comes out in his words. He is a liar and accuser. He uses his words to curse and condemn. He uses his words to blaspheme God and exalt himself.

How about Jesus?  What do Jesus’ words from the cross reveal about his heart? Jesus’ words are filled with grace and truth.  Even as he died, Jesus used his words to intercede for those who were killing him and pray for their forgiveness.  He used his words to comfort those who were grieving the evil that was flooding over them.

When Jesus told his followers he was going to Jerusalem to die many of them left. They refused to listen to his words. Jesus asked Peter if he was going to abandon him as well. Peter said, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
 
Where do you look for the words of life? Facebook? Twitter?  Your Kindle? Your latest e-mail?  Television? Movies? The evening news?  Gossip? Self-help books? None of these words can save you. They are simply empty. Some are intentionally deceitful.  Only Jesus has the words that can give us life.

No matter how polluted our hearts and minds have become with the false words of the world, no matter how sinfully we have misused our words, the words of Jesus have the power to cleanse our lips and purify our hearts and minds.

From Gen1:1 to Rev 22:21 the Bible is the words of Jesus. These words are living words.  They are efficacious, they accomplish God’s purposes in our lives as we read and study them.
 
Jesus is the incarnate Word of God and as we study the Bible, his Word convicts us of sin, lead us to repentance, guide us in confession, assure us that our sins have been forgiven.

His words purify and heal us from the inside out, and assure us that his promise of eternal life is ours – not because of anything we have done or said, but because of what he has done and said for us on the cross. His final word from the cross was Tetelestai meaning “The job is finished.  The debt of sin has been paid in full”.

Words matter. They originate in God.  Satan doesn’t create words – he only twists them, misuses them.  It was God’s word that created the world. It was God’s word that created life.  It’s God’s word that convicts us of sin and points us to the Savior. It’s God’s word that nurtures our faith and announces our salvation.  Without the living words of Jesus our faith begins to starve and die.

Don’t neglect the Bible it is the living word of God. Jesus will meet you there. You will understand more fully the meaning of the cross.  Read it, study it, memorize by yourself and with others.

In John 8:32, Jesus told his disciples, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples, you will know the truth and the truth will set your free.”
 
“Lord Jesus, as we move through this world where evil breaks out against us in so many ways, where else would we go? This world is filled with words, foolish words, lying words, bitter words, accusing words, hopeless words, words of bitterness, but Jesus, you have the words of truth, you have the words of eternal life. Help us listen to you!”

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, by him, for him. Without him nothing was made that has been made… This Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Amen

Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615


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