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Good Friday - The Miracle of Good Friday

April 22nd 2011 by Joel Schultz

As we ponder the miracles of the passion, we realize the the passion itself is the greatest of miracles. It is a miracle bringing pardon and peace to sinners like you and me. Read or listen to find out more...

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Good Friday – “The Miracle of Good Friday” – 1 Peter 3:18 – April 22, 2011

During this Lenten Season, we have been turning our attention to the miracles of Lent: to the miracles that occurred the very moment Christ died; to the three hours of darkness, the torn temple curtain, the earthquake, and so on. This evening, I would like to direct your attention to the larger miracle of Good Friday. It is a miracle that involves suffering and death – death at the hands of sinful men and women in which you and me and numbered.

The physical weapons used in bringing this death were the scourging, the nails, the cross. But the weapon behind those weapons was sin, the sin of all humankind. That weapon indicts us all. The net of guilt reaches everywhere, all the way back to the first man who lived, and all the way forward to the very last person to be born.

What a terrible weapon we wield with our sin. It’s all there in our heart—malice, hatred, greed, lying, gossip, slander, pride, and self-righteousness. And all these things have not just brought the death of God’s Son, but they also set the inner compass of our life on a course of death.

Look how we step out on that course of death with our words and deeds. Look what brings death to marriage and family life — lovelessness, selfishness, infidelity, words and deeds that stab and wound. Look what brings death in the workplace — greed, envy, jealousy, dishonesty, making a god of material things. Look what brings death to our relationships in the Church — grudges, hard feelings, neglect of Word and Sacrament, lack of participation, the attitude of “I’m not available for anything.”

After a killing rampage across our lives, sin kills us. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek l8:4). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Sin is thorough. It is the weapon of total death —spiritual, physical, and eternal death.

But listen. Here’s the reason to call this Friday “good”. On the first Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension, Peter essentially tells the crowd gathered before him this same message – that their sin had put Jesus on the cross and had killed Him. They were cut to the heart by the Law and cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter responded with Good News: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Doesn’t that make you breathe a huge sigh of relief? Do you know what that means? It means sin, that terrible lethal weapon, has been neutralized. It means there’s hope. There’s a way out of death. There’s forgiveness!

This is the Miracle of Good Friday. Peter says it well in his first letter: “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God” (1Pt. 3:18). Jesus goes to the cross with all our sin and guilt. He “[bears] our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet 2:24), Peter also writes. He suffers the death that follows sin, more than physical death, the death of hell. He tastes death for everyone (Heb 2:9). This is the Father’s wrath and judgment on our sins, yet borne willingly by His Son, all for our salvation.

Because Jesus was guilty with our sin, the Father declares us not guilty. The theological word for that is justification. The practical meaning for us is this: because God made Jesus to be sin for us, He now sees us without sin. Because Jesus suffered hell for us, we don’t have to go to hell.

How do we know for sure? Peter says to the Pentecost crowd: “God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). Over the darkness of Good Friday we see the silver lining of Easter, the rising glow of the sunrise —acquittal, a pronouncement of innocence, a new life with God.

This day is all about suffering and death – the suffering and death of Jesus for us – in our place. So bask in the verdict, the amazing verdict.

Look at the cross and hear the “not guilty” from St. Peter: “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18).

Hear Isaiah’s “not guilty”: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:5–6).

Hear St. Paul: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).

Hear the verdict from St. John, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).

This is God’s good work through that bloody, sin-scarred cross.

St. Peter said to that Pentecost crowd, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). See in your repentance godly sorrow for sin and then forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus. See in your Baptism all God has to give. You are born again to be a child of God. You are reconciled to God. You have forgiveness from God. You have new life with God. See in all of this the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has worked repentance in you, who made you alive with God in your Baptism, who continues to keep you going and growing as a person who is no longer dead but alive in Christ. That is the Miracle of Good Friday and it is reason to rejoice! Amen!

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1 2:06 p.m. on July 15, 2016

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