Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Sunday, November 20, 2016 - St. Luke 23:27-43

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Posted: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

Do you follow Jesus? It’s never been easy. We like to think it is, but it isn’t. It wasn’t easy for those women and the great crowds that followed Him on His way to The Cross. They weren’t cheering or having a good ol’ time. They were beating their breasts and crying.

Jesus is not a normal king. He is not accompanied by cheers and adulation. He does not reign from a golden throne. He rides a donkey instead of a steed. He carries a cross instead of scepter and orb. He is mocked and killed. Who does it? His own subjects, the leaders of the Jews! They just used the Romans to get rid of Him. Everything they put Him through hurt those who followed Him. Following Christ is not easy. For He reigns from a cross. God says in Zechariah 3: “Behold, I will bring My Servant The Branch . . . and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day;” and The Church sings every Passiontide (TLH 168:3):

Fulfilled is all that David told In true prophetic song of old; Amidst the nations, God, saith he, Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.

He says: “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” By the wood of The Cross He draws us to Him. He calls us to eat His Body and drink His Blood and receive all He did for us on that day in which He removed the land’s iniquity.

Do you follow Him? Do you serve Him as He desires? Do you keep His commands? Notice He was crucified with two criminals, and don’t forget He probably took Barabbas’ place. Barabbas means “father’s son” and that can apply to all of us. We all have fathers. Even Adam and Eve had a father, St. Luke says: God. Jesus took the place of criminals and hung with them. That means He took your place, your punishment. Jesus was punished for all your sins on Good Friday.

Such punishment says a lot about us. Why would The God-Man subject Himself to such horrible tortures? Why would The King of the universe allow His subjects to tar and feather Him and then some? Your Sovereign bled and died and devoted His sacred Head for such a worm as you. It was for crimes that you have done that He groaned upon the tree (TLH 154:2).

What sort of crimes? Barabbas had rebelled against the government God had given, stolen and killed. The thieves crucified on either side of Jesus must have been pretty bad too to get themselves crucified. They probably killed, stole, and rebelled too. You might have a few speeding tickets but you’ve not rebelled against Washington. You might have taken toys from your sibling but you’re no thief. You hit your classmate but you’re no killer. Yet Jesus has taken your place? What have you done?

Sin filled you with evil desires at the moment of your conception. It’s kept you from trusting God on your own, which means you don’t pray to Him or praise Him or give Him thanks like you should – and you should at all times; nor do you gladly hear and learn His Word – that applies every time we come to church not because we want to but because it’s Sunday and that’s just what is to be done on Sunday. Instead of loving and cherishing your parents, you disobeyed them when you were young and you forget God gave us government – and sometimes we parents focus on what we want instead of on what our kids need. You might help and support people with the self-centered goal of getting something back, and we’ve all at least desired to hurt or harm someone else. Your eye wanders so you can’t lead the sexually pure and decent life, and no spouse has ever perfectly loved and honored spouse all the time – not even close! You don’t help everybody improve what they have, yet you’ll happily tell lies and slander, and never defend people when you hear others do those things. The list of ways we’ve broken God’s commands is as long as the list of people who have ever lived. How bad are we (TLH 143:6)?

There was no spot in me by sin untainted; Sick with sin’s poison, all my heart had fainted; My heavy guilt to hell had well-nigh brought me, Such woe it wrought me.

So Christ was killed because we’re sinners? What does this mean? Is God angry with us over His Son’s Death? Is He mad that we killed our King with our sins (TLH 143:5)?

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; The sinful child of man may live in gladness; Man forfeited his life and is acquitted – God is committed.

Kings are supposed to give good gifts to their people. Your Savior is that sort of King. He wanted to die for you. He wanted to die your death. He wanted to be punished for all your sinfulness. If a good king dies in battle leading his troops, how much better is this one who dies not just for His troops, but for people who don’t deserve it and are His enemies because of sin? He battled sin all on His own – and won – for you!

He is most good, precisely because He forgives your sins. He pardons your wrongdoings. He was punished for them all, so there is no punishment left for you. He suffered eternal death and now gives you eternal life. He has washed your sins away in Baptism’s waters and made you His Father’s own dear child. He gives you His salvation physically at this Altar when you eat His Body and drink His Blood.

What a wonderful King He is! He takes people who should be repulsive to Him and makes them His own. He pulls them up out of the muck of hell all the way to the perfection of heaven. He helps people who can’t do anything right do what is right in His sight just because they want to please Him Who died and rose for them. Life is not easy, after all the world hates us because it hates Him, but He’s on our side helping us in our fight as we strive for the heavenly crown. How good is He? When you die He will lovingly, willingly, answers this prayer (TLH 607:8, 19):

King of majesty tremendous, Who dost free salvation send us, Fount of pity, then befriend us.

To the rest Thou didst prepare me On Thy cross, O Christ, upbear me! Spare, O God, in mercy spare me!

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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