It is a glorious witness to the power of God when we hear the same Gospel reading from Advent 1, on Palm Sunday. Glorious, because Jesus is coming; not just to a Silent Night in Bethlehem, but to fallen creatures singing His praise today, but shout “Crucify” on Friday.
Thus, Jesus speaks today, saying:
“When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.”
Another wonderful witness comes from the Pharisees. Their patriotic speeches are littered with unintentional prophecy. The high priest declares that it is better for one man to die than for a multitude to suffer and the Pharisees incite the Good Friday crowd to say, “His blood be upon us and our children!”
Pilate gives one final witness before the cross. He inscribes upon it the charges brought against Jesus. In his eyes they were meant to deter anyone else from doing this same thing, so they would not be crucified as well. It read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Even the Moslems are not to be outdone. 1000 years after Jesus on the same highway that Jesus is riding upon and the same Great Gate He passes through to
are, today walled up and blocked with a graveyard. Their thinking is that if a
Jewish Messiah were prophesied to come in through the East Gate (the King’s
gate) he would have to be ritually clean. Touching dead bodies negates that and
here’s a wall just in case.
They are all better witnesses of the person and work or Jesus Christ than you, because they are willing to sacrifice everything for it and take Jesus at His Word. They believe putting Jesus to death would show everyone just how not-godlike Jesus really is.
Remember, death is not your friend or their friend. So, while Jesus will die, death is not going to do what everyone wnts. This is because death is not a thing, in and of itself. Just like sin is not a thing. Both of them are not created things and they have no business being here.
Yet it is here. We can not explain it. We can not rationalize it. It is something that should not be. It causes much harm, much sorrow, and much regret. It is the one thing you avoid at all cost and yet, here Jesus is practically running to His death.
The first time we hear of death, it is from the lips of the Lord. He says that eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil will only lead to the death of Adam. Thus the Prophet of prophets tells us of death and also tells us it is not His doing.
Think about it this way: your bodies cannot handle heaven. They can’t even handle life on earth and yet they were made by God. Does this mean God is a failure? Many of you love various sins and vices and use the excuse that God made you that way. Does this mean God is schizophrenic?
God created all things. There is only one Creator so anything that is here or that we discover is made by Him and yet it is also true that God did not make death. How we understand that is how we understand sin. God created your bodies and souls, but He did not create them corrupted or fallible and yet they are.
Likewise, God created life, but He didn’t create life to end. He is life. That would be ridiculous. In light of this, we call death what it is: a corruption. God created life; sin corrupted it. And it is corrupted beyond repair. It is corrupted to the genetic level, never to be undone.
In your sin, you deserve nothing but this death. In your sin, you also cheer on those who wish to prove God to the world by putting Him to death. You wish to see for yourself, for you are not completely convinced, Jesus dying just like you: alone and afraid.
However, Jesus dying is exactly what the plan is. He says to you, “Your will be done”. You wish to see God share in your struggles and grief? He does. You wish to see God handle the stress of life and the anguish of despair? You got it. You desire to see God having to die? Sure thing.
What the Pharisees don’t understand is that it is precisely through death that Jesus is proven to be faithful and true. It is exactly in His Blood poured out upon them that they save everyone. What Pilate doesn’t get is that a true King lays down His life for friend and foe alike. What the Moslems don’t understand is that not even death can stop this King of Life.
Death is the last enemy to be overcome because it is the last door for a Christian to go trough. Death is the last enemy because it is the final cut between old creation and a new creation, for one who has died has died to sin and sin and the Law can no longer condemn him. However, in Christ, the Christian does not die, but falls asleep.
Jesus, the Lord of life has had His creation wrenched from His hands and thrown down a death spiral. What was once forward, life, is now backwards, death. However, Jesus goes backwards, into death, in order to once again right the ship.
Jesus reverses the reversal. It can not be explained any better. Death, which is irrational and unnatural, must be conquered by the irrational and unnatural; namely the death of God.
And, as we heard last Wednesday evening, this death is proclaimed by your entire body in the Lord’s Supper. No more does sin and sorrow reign, because Jesus has given us His pledge. The sign of all this is the cross of Jesus. His pledge to you is the Sacrament of the Altar.
The real misunderstanding of unbelievers is that God can be both spiritual and physical. Not only that, but that God can die, being one substance and one person with Jesus. That He can be buried in the ground, same as you. That He can fulfill your will in striking the final blow against Jesus and in the same act, relieve you of your guilt as you cry out, “I put my Lord on the cross!”
It was the will of the father to sacrifice His Son. It was the Son’s joy and delight to give His Body and spill His blood upon you and your children, in Baptism. It is the great endeavor of the Lord that the Bridegroom die and bleed upon your sins, in order that Jesus now be your life in death and bring you to heaven’s portals.