“All history is made most vivid today as Christ Jesus fulfills it all” Good Friday 2024

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29. March 2024
Good Friday Chief Service
John 18–19

When they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled.

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

The Evangelists do not tell the story of Jesus as just another event in the long history of the world. They assert that this week and even this day is the central event of all history. Everything from Creation, flood, Exodus, the time of the judges, kings, and prophets, the exile in Babylon, and the silence on return led to the singular moment of death in Golgotha. And everything since is understood under the shadow of the cross of Calvary, even unto the consummation of ages on the last day. This is a bold statement, I know. How could one day—much less one moment, time, or hour—define all of history and all reality? How could Christ’s birth, ministry, suffering, death, burial, and resurrection help us understand all of time, including our story?

As we’ve heard our Lord’s Passion this week together from St. Mark, St. Matthew, St. Luke, and now St. John, we’ve heard the repeated assertion: “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled.” By Scriptures, they mean Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, collectively what we call the Old Testament. They assert that the story of Jesus was always the point. Every Spirit-inspired story, from the most well-known to the least, finds its purpose in Jesus. 

And because of this phenomenal statement, we take great pains daily to confess Christ in our hearing, teaching, and preaching of the Sacred Scriptures. Like the Evangelists, Jesus Himself will model for us on Resurrection Evening. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” He had already been doing that for us, especially in His passion prophecies. He said, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Or “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

You may know those stories, but there’s more! The Evangelist John reminds us that Jesus is also the Son of David, who was rejected in the same way as the first David. That’s why he mentions the Brook Kidron. If we had the time, we could spend an hour on that little wadi. But we’ll stay focused. As Absalom rebelled against his father, David, the chief priests, and the Pharisees rebelled against the Father. Judas betrayed Jesus like Ahithophel, who had counseled Absalom. Peter’s denial was like the momentary defection of Hushai whose counsel would undo Absalom in the end. There’s one story that finds its fulfillment in Christ’s Passion. 

And we could go on to speak of how Jesus identifies Himself as the eternal Son of God whose name is I AM, that is the same God who appeared to Moses out of the burning bush and whom Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshiped. Or how Caiaphas acted within his office of the high priest when he spoke of the proper sacrifice, offering Jesus up as the lamb whose blood is the atonement for sin. Or we could speak of how Jesus is the Passover lamb, dimly seen in the Exodus lamb, now fully revealed in His passion. His own Father prepares him for roasting upon the spit of the cross. This unblemished lamb, indeed the Lamb of God, pure and holy, takes away the sins of the world. What Abraham found in the thicket, Exodus instituted, Leviticus expanded, the Baptist proclaimed, is now finished in Jesus. 

All history is made most vivid today as Christ Jesus fulfills it all, even the stories you never heard in Sunday School or read from your Children’s Bible. The accounts of the Evangelists can be heard with simplicity of heart and for the comfort of the Gospel. Christ Jesus was crucified for you for the forgiveness of your sins. This central truth is beautifully confessed. The glory of God is revealed as your sins are atoned for in Jesus’ shed blood. 

Yet, the Evangelists evoke and intone details that beg further consideration, exploration, and meditation. Don’t be ashamed by how much you do not know. There’s no end to hearing and learning from Jesus’s Word, as He brings your faith from infancy to maturity. And you’ll finally be matured to completion in the hour of your death and twinkling of the eye when you are resurrected. All history bears witness that there’s only one story that ultimately matters: death and resurrection. As Christ Jesus died and rose for you, so you die and be raised to the glory of God the Father. Thanks be to God!

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin