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The Death of Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 19:28-30

Pastor James F. Wright

Good Friday
St John Lutheran Church  
Champaign, IL

Fri, Mar 29, 2002 

The words we have heard are of one who is in great suffering.  I thirst.  My God, why have you forsaken me?  It is finished.

These are the words of one who once said, "Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

How can Jesus help us, he is heavy laden himself.  There he is dying, and he is the one who offers to help us.  We say, "No thanks.  I don't need that kind of help."  I don't need help dying.  I need help to live.

Nevertheless we are burdened.  We suffer and are heavy laden with our sins.  If we look at our lives the way the Bible teaches us, we see our lives have been one great big sin. Jesus gave us very simple directions.  Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  Then love other people as much as you love yourself.  What's so hard about that?  Everything.

Sometimes we think, "I'm going to change things.  I'm going to live a better life, starting today."  We have good intentions, but it doesn't take but a few moments to show us that we do not have the power or will within us to change ourselves at all.  At the end of the day we are the same self consumed, burdened, fearful people we've always been.

We desire to live a life that is godly and righteous.  But godliness and righteousness are far from our hearts.  Our only hope is to take refuge in the godliness and righteousness of Jesus.  That is where we can find rest.

Jesus went to the cross because he loved us.  He gave his life as a ransom for many.  He gave his body to be whipped, to be spit upon, to be punched, cut with thorns, to be nailed through and crucified, all of it for you and me.  We can find rest here in the wounds of Jesus.

His precious blood, which he freely shed in his bitter sufferings and cruel death, is what cleanses us from all our sins.  His blood is our help.  When we are hurting, we can look to the human body of Jesus, which didn't make use of its glorious divine power when the mystery of our redemption was being worked out.  In the bleeding wounds of Jesus is my only remedy.  Let me always look to the cross and see this.

On Good Friday I often ask myself, "Whom do I love enough to die for?" Recently we thought about the firefighters and police officers who died on September 11 because they were saving the lives of others.  We think about the people on the plane who fought the terrorists to save the lives of those on the ground.  And now we think about those killed in battle to rid the world of such evil.  We occasionally think of them and are thankful, but most of the time we are only aware of our own lives and the hardships we face which pale in comparison.

If I had the chance to die for someone, who would it be?  My wife?  My child?  The people of my congregation--if they were appreciative?  I hate to think of how little I am able to bear for others.

Jesus went to the cross for us.  The Bible says while we were still enemies of God, Christ died for us.  We weren't worthy of Christ's heroic death for us.  He went anyway because he loved us before we were born.  It was glory for him to love us and take our burden upon himself.

"God loved the world so that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  Not only does Jesus love us, but the Father loves us as well.

It's a hard thing to send a son or daughter off to war to fight for a noble cause.  I can only imagine what that must be like, not knowing if they will return or not, just holding on to hope and prayer.  But imagine the Father, sending his Son, knowing exactly what's going to happen, and knowing that millions of people will never understand why you did it or know that you did it for them.

These last words from the cross are the words of a hero.  Not a tough guy who gets his way through sword and violence, but a loving man who carries our burdens.

Listen, O Christian, and take courage.  Before we were sinners by nature, but now we are justified by grace.  Before we were his enemies, but now we are his friends and family.  Before our help was in the death of Christ, but now it is in his life.  Once we were dead in our sins, but now we are made alive with Christ.  O the immeasurable love of God!

Draw me, O Lord Jesus, let me possess in how I live my life that which I look to for all my hope. Let your last words from the cross inspire me to live for you and for those you love.  Amen.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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