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A Sermon for Holy Cross Day

September 8, 2006

Holy Cross Day                       Trinity  Lutheran Church
14 September 2006                Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

St. John 12:20-33

Holy Cross Day.  The Greeks are coming!  The Greeks are coming!  Looking for Jesus.  They go to the disciple with the Greek name:  “We’d like to see Jesus.”  Philip tells Andrew and then both of the Greek named disciples tell Jesus that fellow Greeks are looking for Him.

Greeks.  Perhaps wanting Jesus to do a makeover for their homely and on-the-shelf daughters.  And then set them up with Philip and Andrew to have a big fat Greek wedding.  Then again.  Maybe not.  Well, possibly they’re mafioso types.  To intimidate popular preacher Jesus.  Put Him on their payroll and use Him as a front to increase their territory and profits.  And then again.  Maybe not.

Greeks they are.  But they’re religious ones.  They’re in Jerusalem.  Worshipping.  Religious Greeks.

And being religious in Jesus’ day was just as popular as it is today.  Loads of religious people.  From all walks of life.  And bunches of religious people can always find some use for Jesus.

So why do they want to see Jesus?  Well, the text doesn’t say.  So we can only guess.  But I think we can guess well.  After all, why do the religious types of today want to see Jesus?  How do they want to use Him?  What about you?

From Jesus, they usually want a religious recipe for getting their act together.  “Tell me what I have to do Jesus!  “Give me some problem solving techniques so that I can straighten out my life!  Give me some principles from the Bible that are practical.  That will forever change my life.  That will set my life ablaze.  A life …  A life …  A life …  I’m busy building a life here for myself!  Saving it.  You can help.  Are you paying attention Jesus?  Hello?  Anybody there?  What happened to Philip?  Does he have an answer for us?”

Jesus finally replies.  As always His answer is the same.  He speaks of an Hour of Power.  No.  It’s better to say it the way Jesus does. He speaks of an Hour of Glory.  A Glory Hour.  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

You want to see Jesus, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher?  Really Mr. Constantine?  Come to see Him, Toula, Nicholas and Alexander?  Then see Him in His glory!  And that’s when He’s dead as a door knob.  Graveyard dead on the Cross.  Remember, it’s Holy Cross Day today.

Or as Jesus puts it:  The glory of the Son of Man is when He’s like a kernel of wheat.  Planted in the ground.  And dies.  But from the Seed Jesus’ death comes a whole lot of fruit.

Greeks.  Members of Trinity congregation.  Want a life do you?  Love building a life of your own?  Jesus is busy handing out just the opposite.  He hands out a death.  HIS!

And the Father won’t save Him from the Good Friday hour.  It’s the only reason the Father sent His Son.  It’s the only reason Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.  For the glory of His death on the Cross.

And did you catch how much fruit Dead and Buried Kernel of Wheat Jesus produces?  “When I am lifted up on the Cross,” Jesus says, “I will draw all men to myself.”

“All men?”  Yes, all means all.  Jews.  Germans.  Indians.  Iraqis.  Iranians.  Greeks. Jesus leaves no one out.  He died for everyone.  His death counts for everyone.  That’s the pulling power of His death.  “When I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself.”

Here’s where Jesus is so scandalous.  So outrageously outrageous.

All of a sudden “all” can’t mean all.  The Ethics and Moral Interpreters of the Bible will not let this plain and simple statement of Jesus stand.  All?  Surely not.

For good people.  Yes.  For family and promise keeping men, virtuous and well dressed women, and obedient children.  They can be included in the “all.”  But not the immoral.  Certainly not the unethical.  You know, the cheating husbands, the ENRON thieves, Uncle Arthur the family drunk, the brother who took his life, the neighbor who beats his child, and all those horrible tyrants of history from Nero and Hitler to Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.  They can’t be part of the “all.” 

What they’ve done — what they haven’t done — excludes them from the “all” of Seed Jesus’ Good Friday Cross.  And so for the moral and ethical watchdogs Jesus surely won’t [can’t] include these sinful men to Himself when He’s lifted high on the Wood.

And yet Jesus says just the opposite:  “I will die for all.  At Calvary it’s show time.  Prince of this world Satan is thrown out.  And I’m the Divine Bouncer.  I’ll show him the door.  Give him the boot.  And what does that mean for the world?  For you?  It means “judgment.”

The judgment of hell for the devil and his followers.  The judgment of approval for you.  Of acceptability.  Acquittal.  Don’t have to become a non-sinner to receive God’s stamp of approval.  The forgiveness lies completely in God’s free choice to put all the world’s sin including yours (no matter what the sin) in the Body of His Crucified Son.

We’ve just observed another anniversary of Sept. 11.  Alan Jackson’s song asks the question:  Where were you when the world stopped turning?  But many asked and are still asking us:  Where was Jesus on that day?  We can say without flinching:  “Right there in the midst of it all.  He’s the Word through whom all things are made and in whom all things hold together.  As He always is.”

But what was He doing there in the midst of it all?  Doing what He always does — creatively, redemptively going about His business of death and resurrection because on the Cross He drew all to Himself.

And to the people who are still searching for God in the aftermath of Sept. 11 we say:  “God is good.  He is gracious.  God is reconciled.  Even to this messiest of deaths in the death of His Son.  God has dealt with all sin and all death once and for all on a good dark Friday that makes even the blackest of our 9-11’s good.  Only in Him do you have a life.  Now and forevermore.”

“We’d like to see Jesus” the Greeks requested.  A Jesus they saw.  The crucified on the Cross Jesus.  Their Savior.

And so do you.  The crucified, risen and ascended Jesus.  Buried and rais
ed with Him in Baptism.  He reveals Himself to you in the bread and wine of His Supper which is His Body and Blood.  So, eating and drinking, we proclaim the Lord’s death for us and for the world.  The Lord’s death which is our life.  Eternal life.

Have a happy Holy Cross Day.  In the Name of Jesus.  Amen

From → Sermons

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