Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Good Friday Sermon 10th April 2020 The 7 last words of Jesus

Good Friday Sermon 10th April 2020
The 7 last words of Jesus

Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
I was watching a special on TV last week about the Coronavirus and the presenter said – let’s get the world through this pandemic and as soon as we’ve beaten it we’ll find out who is responsible and make them pay for it.
Is that really the attitude we want to have?
When we are through this all I want to give thanks to God and keep praying for those who are affected by it still. The sick, the unemployed, the financially crippled, the grieving.
I’ve heard all the conspiracy theories about how it started.
I’ve heard all the rumours about how and where it started.
I’ve seen the videos of the racial abuse because people want to blame someone.
We recently had Psalm 130 in our worship which included the verse:
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness;
Jesus death is all about forgiveness and not blame.
What amazing words that come from our Lord to his heavenly Father – forgive them.
Jesus could have asked his Father to take revenge and to punish those who put him to death.
But he doesn’t.
The nature of God is to forgive – love keeps no record of wrongs.
And the very nature of God is described many times in the Old Testament – slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Let us also example God’s nature with one another and forgive as we have been forgiven.
Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
We are told that the restrictions we are facing could go on for 6 months.
No one knows.
We’ve shown signs that we are doing the right things but no one is suggesting that we cut short the isolation and shutdowns we are facing.
We are all worried about the future.
Will we recover – will we ever get back to normal or will there be a new normal we will all have to adjust to?
And what is concerning is that we haven’t even entered the normal flu season which affects thousands and thousands of people.
We don’t know what the future holds.
But for a thief on the cross he didn’t have to worry about the future because Jesus said to him “TODAY” you will be with me in paradise.
How could Jesus make that promise?
Does he know what sort of life that thief had lived?
Doesn’t he have to be punished for all the crimes he has committed?
Jesus’ death today means that Jesus can assure him that TODAY he has the assurance of living in paradise.
And so too, TODAY, you have the assurance of living in paradise with God.
There is no exam at the end – there is no balancing of the books
Jesus death means that all our sins have been paid in full.
So the promise of paradise can be made today.
And that means we can enjoy living the blessings today – not tomorrow – not in 6 months time.
Times are not easy at present but St Paul reminds us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that awaits us in heaven.
And that joy can be experienced today because our future home in heaven is assured today.
And only Jesus can give you that comfort today even if everything around us is crumbling.
Woman behold your son. Then he said to the disciple – behold your mother.
Even as he was about to die, Jesus is concerned about his family – both his biological family and also his Godly family – his disciples.
In this time of social isolation our families have also been our lifeblood.
Our families with whom we have been isolated and who we have been able to speak to either by phone or other technology.
But also our Christian brothers and sisters.
As I have rung you I have been overwhelmed by those who have told me that someone else from the congregation has also spoken to them.
I have had people contact me asking if I know anyone who needs any shopping done – who needs their garden looked after.
This is family – especially the family of God.
We are all aching because we cannot gather together to worship our heavenly Father but until that day we continue to be the family of God to one another.
And through this love connection we will get through.
The book of Hebrews says – let us not stop meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.
That is not what we are doing –
We are still meeting together and we thank God that the technology that has often frustrated us with mobile phones going off during church or our faces glued to screens – has now been used by God for his purposes.
You are family of God – let us be the family of God to each other.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Need I say more?
Isn’t this on the tips of many people’s tongues.
Isn’t it strange to hear those words come out of Jesus’ mouth?
What Jesus is here showing is the difference between reality and feelings.
It feels like God has abandoned him.
He is experiencing the full extent of the pain of sin.
He is experiencing hell – the absence of God.
A pain that cannot be compared to anything we experience in this life time – the separation from God.
But that’s not the reality.
The reality is that God abandons no one.
God promised in our baptism through Jesus – I am with you always till the end of the age.
Maybe it feels like God has abandoned the world – abandoned us – abandoned YOU.
But that is not the reality.
God is with you and he shares your pain which he did, fully on the Cross.
And as Jesus will experience on the Third Day when he rises from the dead – the sting of death is gone.
The victory is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When Christ, who is your glory appears then you also shall appear with him in Glory.
Until then our Glory is hidden – but real.
God has NOT abandoned you and never will.
I thirst.
Just as Jesus thirst on the cross, so too we are thirsting for his body and blood.
Jesus promised the Samaritan woman at the well that he can give to us Living Water so that we shall never thirst again.
Jesus promised in the beatitudes - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled"
It may be a while before we can gather together again around the Table of our Lord and have our thirst quenched, but let us be assured that Jesus knows our thirst and what a celebration it will be when we can gather again.
It will be like the woman who lost a coin and when she found it gathered all her neighbours to come and celebrate with her.
I hope and pray that when that day comes that our churches will be overflowing with members, friends and those who have not been to church for a long time will come and celebrate with the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven to have our thirst quenched by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is finished
“It is finished” is often misunderstood as a sign of defeat.
That Jesus cannot take any more and has given up.
But that cannot be further from the truth.
It is a cry of victory.
The battle is over – I have won.
Satan tried his best to direct Jesus away from this end.
He tempted him 4 times – the last one his greatest – come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.
But he didn’t.
Despite the pain, despite the abandonment, despite the betrayal, despite the denials – Jesus remained on the cross for you  and finished his mission of defeating Satan and death.
It is finished.
Father into your hands I commit my spirit.
When all is said and done what more comforting place can we find that in our loving Father’s hands.
With all the pain and hardships happening all around us today where can we find more comfort than in the loving hands of our Father in Heaven.
When the prodigal had nowhere else to turn he returns to his Father because he knows that despite all that he has done wrong, he is still his Father.
When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
But it is his father who when he sees his son returning rushes out to him and throws him arm around him as the prodigal son places himself into his Fathers hands.
Despite what is happening all around us – the statistics – the warnings – the predictions – the fallout – the uncertainty – let us, like Jesus today, commit ourselves into our Father’s hands.

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