Look Into The Darkness

Text: John 19:1-42

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Tonight we come face to face with the darkness of death.  This evening the hammer slams down upon nails.  Blood is spilt.  And we hear the agony and pain of Jesus.  Furthermore, we will hear the jarring noise of the Strepitus – the loud bang that symbolizes the closing of the tomb after Christ’s death.  Truly, tonight we come face to face with the darkness of death.    

Now, it would be easy to think that we are somehow trying to recreate a funeral for Jesus in our service tonight; however, Jesus died some two-thousand years ago.  No funeral is needed or necessary.  Indeed, His death was long ago, but your death and my death are much closer, they are not too far away.  Yes, darkness will soon come to each and every one of us.  The darkness of death will come, and it will cast its heavy shadow over top of you and me; enveloping us and pulling us into the cold grave.   

And so, tonight we are before death.  And being before death we must acknowledge that death is our enemy. 

But don’t we often hear that death is a natural thing of life.  Dear friends, death is not natural.  Death is ‘not’ the way things are supposed to be.  We were not created for death.  If Adam had not eaten of the forbidden tree, he would have been immortal.  But instead, he ate from the tree, thus angering God and bringing the curse of death upon us all.

But as you know, we humans try to remedy this curse of death.  We do all sorts of things to distance ourselves from death and its effects.  Just pick up any grocery aisle magazine, and you will read about ways to reduce wrinkles, cover blemishes, regrow hair, take pills to increase energy, and have surgeries to make one look young again.  And then at funerals, you would think that there is no way to escape death, but cleverly we are told that we are not supposed to be sad, but that death is a sort of refuge in which we are shut up and preserved from the problems of life.  Indeed, at funerals, we are told not to mourn and cry but to celebrate and dance.  Tragically, when we are all done with our tactics, death becomes tame.  Or, so we think.  Yes, after all of our strategies we make death into a so-called friend, not an enemy. 

Dear friends, this is pagan blindness.  We do not defend evil.  Death is ‘not’ our friend but our enemy.  Death cannot be laughed off or tamed.  Death is not an option that we can choose or not choose.  We cannot keep death at a distance.  Bluntly stated, the only certainty in life is death.  Sin has so completely ensnared us in death that we cannot be sure of our life for one moment.  At the time of our birth, nothing in life is certain except that we all end up dead in the grave.[1] 

And so, here we sit this evening.  We sit in our pews as mortals tagged for death.  We sit with the reality that there is nothing more powerful than death, and that death is the biggest struggle that we will ever face and know.  And to increase the heavy burden, even more, we remember that we are here in this service face to face with another death - the death of the Son of God. 

Now, we may be tempted to look away from Jesus’ death for our death is tough enough to contemplate. In other words, we may want to distract our minds from the message of Good Friday but we cannot.  You see, we are baptized into Christ’s death, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 6. 

Dear Baptized Saints, we must never forget that the death of Jesus Christ is our death.  On that cross, yes, we see the death of Jesus, but this is no ordinary death.  It is not a death of a mere mortal.  But instead, it is our death that Jesus is dying.  It is like this: Jesus knew no sin; therefore, He cannot know death.  But yet, He died.  Why?  Because He knew our sin – He was made to be sin on our behalf.  Simply stated, if Jesus was on the cross for something that He had done wrong, we could shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, that is too bad, but I guess he got what was coming,” and then we could go on our way.  But this is not the case.  He took your sin upon Himself, and since death is the sting of sing, He felt the sting of death because of your sin.

But in the death of Jesus for your and my sin, something happened.  Full satisfaction for our sin was made.  A full payment was made – not with gold or silver – but with precious blood. A full payment made to satisfy the guilt of our sin.  Therefore, because a payment was made for you and me, we do not look away from the death of the Son of God. 

And so what this means is that you and I are forever connected to Jesus’ death, for it is where the payment of our sin was made in full.  Therefore, Good Friday is not just a one-time event that you and I recognize once a year, but it is a reality to you and me every single day.  In His death, Jesus purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil. 

But don’t we still die?  Yes, we do.  But because we are joined to Jesus’ death, our deaths become little. 

Dear Baptized Saints, listen closely.  In Christ, you are prepared to die.  Yes, you can calmly look for the coming of your death because you know Jesus who at the cost of His own life took away the sting of your death which is your sin.

So, whenever you feel sorrow, doubt, and fear on account of your coming death, look into the darkness of Good Friday.  Yes, look upon the cross and there you will see against your sin, against the devil, against death, and against the burdened conscience, one whom kills your sin, destroys the devil, conquers your death, and cleanses your conscience – His name is Jesus Christ, the Savior that you are joined to in baptism. 

Tonight we come face to face with the death of the Son of God.  And as we consider Good Friday we confess that Jesus gave Himself into death so that He could bring us out of it.  Yes, we have come face to face with the darkness of Good Friday, and tonight we will arise from our pews and go forward toward Sunday where we will hear about so much more.   

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, (W 52, 517).

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