+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 19:18
Theme: Crucified For Sinners
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”1 “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”2 “He died for all.”3 His act of sacrifice was not a pious analogy or religious parable. It was not a historically limited illustration of human attempts to represent God’s goodness. It was the once-for-all, sufficient means of reconciling humanity to God.
Yet there are few things more unpalatable to the mindset of the current generation than the claim that there is an exclusive way for something to be accomplished. At every turn we are indoctrinated with the idea that all things are relative. Nothing is set in concrete. Nothing is universally true. Is there not more than one way to skin a fox? Values are said to depend on the perspective of the observer. Even history is open for reinterpretation according to the preferences of the spectator.
What spiritual truths can really interest the modern cynic? Perhaps a grand synthesis in which philosophies, ancient and modern, are rolled into one pluralistic system of myth and fable to suit the spiritual proclivities of those who are adverse to all things dogmatic? Many want the freedom to dabble with no consequences; the option to indulge with no responsibilities. Others prefer the skeptical disdain that the pursuit of any standard of truth is even worthwhile at all. All that matters is the value you place on your ambitions today. Tomorrow is another story. Society should tolerate and even institutionalize such ideals. We are in the process of learning where such subjective philosophies lead.
“Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull. Here they crucified Him.”4 The foundation of Christianity must stand on the bedrock of Christ’s atonement otherwise it crumbles away on sinking sand. It all boils down to this point: When the gold is purified from the dross, the wheat separated from the chaff, when contenders for glory prove to be pretenders, when all possibilities are sieved through the matrix of divine truth, there stands alone this one act sufficient to atone for sinners.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that this chief doctrine of Christianity is undervalued. It can only be cherished by sinners. There is no place for Christ where other idols reign. There can be no more appropriate occasion to entreat the Holy Spirit to purge us of all transgressions that seek to supplant His rule in our lives. Repentance is not simply a remedial exercise that insures we keep to some measure of religious formality. Repentance involves a collision of our stubborn wills with God’s truth about the consequences of our sin. The prospect hell and eternal condemnation is not something we should care to manage on our own.
Christ came into the world to witness to the truth.5 Through the activity of the church the Holy Spirit bears the word into the world. What authority does the church have? It has the Office of the Keys. It has only the authority of the Word. But this is more than sufficient for the task. It converts the unenlightened through baptismal rebirth. It draws those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”6 to the holy table where they are fed. The crucifixion supplies the word with an infinite source of grace. The resurrection with the power to sustain life.
The word of God is not information. It is power to convict wills and transform hearts. The law of God is not a legislative treatise to be debated in regards to its usefulness in jurisprudence. It is the condemning declaration of a holy God that weighs sinners in the balance and finds them wanting.7 The gospel of Christ is not an ethical platform to be assessed for its possibilities in promoting public prosperity. It is the declaration of righteousness that bestows on the sinner faith, forgiveness and freedom.
Yet the word doesn’t work through osmosis. It is proclaimed into the world. Did Nineveh repent until Jonah was sent with a message of judgment8? Did Nebuchadnezzar honour the God of the Hebrews before He gave Daniel the wisdom to interpret his dream9? Did Naaman wash in the Jordan and enjoy relief from his leprosy until Elisha’s messenger prevailed on him10? Did the disciples believe the women who returned from the tomb11? But respond they did when acted upon by God’s powerful word.
Jesus came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.”12 Now so near that the darkness that descended while He was on the cross was palpable. Now so near that the trembling earth would have caused on-lookers to lose their physical and spiritual balance. Now so near that the Messiah’s own mother would need an earthly surrogate. Now so near that the Jews were left dumbfounded when the barrier to the Holy of Holies was slashed open. Now so near that Jesus said, “It is finished.”9 In this event humanity is redeemed. Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
29 March 2013
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Romans 5:8 2 Romans 4:25 3 2 Corinthians 5:15
4 John 19:17-18 5 See John 18:37 6 Matthew 5:6
7 See Daniel 5:27 8 See Jonah 3:3-10 9 See Daniel 2:46-47
10 See 2 kings 5:13-15 11 See Luke 24:11 12 Matthew 4:17
13 John 19:30