3 April 2015
Catechetical Sermon Series: The Ten Commandments
+ Jesu Juva +
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 / Second Commandment
With the Second Commandment God wants you to use His Name properly. You are to fear, love and trust in God so that you call upon God’s Name in every trouble. That’s called – prayer. “Call upon me in the day of trouble,” God invites. And then comes His promise: “I will deliver you,” as well as your response, “and you will honor me,” (Psalm 50:15). Prayer is the life of DEPENDENCE upon God for everything. When you don’t believe or trust in God, you don’t pray to Him. When you do believe and trust in God, you pray. Prayer is a no brainer for the believer.
It’s really no surprise then that the believingly “obedient,” “reverent,” and “submissive” Jesus is always praying to His Father. Especially in the day of trouble. Or in Jesus’ case when He’s faces the ferocious onslaught of Satan’s attacks through Peter’s denials, Iscariot’s betrayal, Israel’s unbelief, and Pilate’s violation of his vocation by condemning sinless, innocent Jesus and releasing murderer, terrorist Barabbas from death row.
In John 17, when the supreme hour of Jesus’ life on earth has arrived, namely, His suffering and Good Friday death – drinking the cup of God’s wrath against all sin and every sinner — Jesus dependently prays. He prays for Himself (17:1-5) asking the Father for the promised gift (cf. 12:28) of His glorification through suffering and death. He prays for His disciples (17:6-19) that His Father would preserve them in an alien and hostile world, sanctify them in the truth of His Word, and be equipped as apostles to preach the gospel to the world. He prays for His future disciples who will believe in Him through the preaching of His apostolic witnesses (17:20-26). He prays for their unity: “that they all may be one / perfectly one” and for their remaining with Him. That’s why John 18:1 remarks: “When He had finished praying.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death,” (Hebrews 5:7). As His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:37), the praying went like this: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26:39, 42; cf. Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42).
This is His High Priestly work! On His way to do the “It is finished” job of offering His perfect and obedient life as the ONE AND ONLY sacrifice of atonement to pay for all sin, Jesus prays. He intercedes. For you and for your salvation.
Jesus was “made perfect” because He lived totally by faith in His Father’s promise to use Him to “become the source of eternal salvation” for all sinners. Jesus did what Adam did not and could not do. Jesus perfectly succeeded where Adam miserably failed. Jesus, as the second and last Adam as well as the head of a new humanity, LIVED BY FAITH. In other words, Jesus was the perfect human – He was totally DEPENDENT on His Father’s will to achieve the world’s salvation that He accomplished in His Good Friday “It Is Finished” suffering for all sin and every sinner.
Again, as Jesus “offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death,” they went like this: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
As Isaiah put it, the Father’s will is to:
“lay on Jesus the iniquity of us all”;
“bear your iniquities” (your sins); and
“number Jesus with the transgressors.”
Isn’t that incredible? Mind-blowing? Sure is. After all, Jesus never sinned. He was tempted “in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
And yet, for your sake sinless and perfect Jesus gets counted as THE SINNER on the cross. This is what it takes to save you. Jesus takes your sin away from you (all of it), wraps Himself with it and bears it in His body on the cross. He bears the sin of Paul, the former blasphemer, persecutor and killer. He bears the sin of Peter who, as he denied Jesus three times, misused God’s name by calling down curses on himself and swearing falsely. He bears the sin of King David, the adulterer and murderer. Yes, Jesus HAS and CARRIES all the sin of every person AS WELL AS YOURS in His body to make satisfaction for all sin with His divine blood that gushes and drips from His crucified body.
All this is for you. So, St. Paul says in Galatians 3:13 that “for us” Christ Jesus “became a curse.” In addition, he preaches in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that, “For our salvation God made Christ to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Again, the prophet Isaiah spoke about this FOR-YOU-Suffering-Servant named Jesus: “He bore the sin of many and MADE INTERCESSION for the transgressors (sinners).” Transgressors! That’s you!
So Jesus intercedes. He prays as the great high priest from the cross: “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:32).
This is His constant prayer for you too! After all, you think you know what you’re doing but you really don’t. You fail to live by faith and therefore you don’t pray either at home or with the baptized holy and royal priesthood at church. You let your old Adam run your life. You let your sinful nature be the lord of your life.
So you misuse God’s name to curse people instead of blessing them. You misuse God’s name to commit perjury, cast spells using God’s name for some kind of manipulative magic (white or black). You misuse God’s name to tell all sorts of lies and to deceive. Consequently, you live inhumanly or inhumanely because you refuse to live DEPENDENTLY on God through faith – a faith that obediently prays in the way of the Second Commandment that calls upon God’s name in every trouble, prays, praises and gives thanks.
Here is the good news for you this Good Friday. Jesus the Son of God is the great high priest FOR YOU. His dying breath was this: “The salvation job that I came to do, ‘It is finished.’” Accomplished! Totally and completely! You are given to “hold firmly” to this truth. After all, what He says and does FOR YOU is certain and sure.
As your pastor I have been sent by Jesus to tell you that the “throne of His Good Friday grace” is extended to you tonight. Confidently, I declare to you Christ’s forgiving mercy and grace. His praying for you and for your forgiveness as the great high priest has been answered. The Father listens. He hears His crucified and risen Son on your behalf. His sacrifice did atone FOR YOU. You are forgiven. All your sin is answered for.
The body and blood that Jesus offered and shed on the cross counts for your salvation. In the Sacrament he actually gives you His Good Friday body and blood to eat and drink with the bread and wine. Your threefold totally-dependent-on-Jesus-praying goes like this: “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us,” He hears you. He answers. Behold the throne of heavenly grace! Right here! When GOOD FRIDAY Jesus promises that this is “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” He means you and YOURS!
In the Name of Jesus.