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Knowing God Perfectly Through the Passion of Jesus: Gethsemane

February 25, 2016

jesus_gethsemane-obrien

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Wednesday of Lent 2

24 February 2016

 

+Jesu Juva +

 

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Gethsemane/ Lenten Catechetical Theme: Knowing God Perfectly![1]

 

Brothers and sisters, during this Lententide you have the joy of learning to know God perfectly. Learning what to receive and expect from Him in Jesus. What should you expect to receive from God? Well, that’s a no brainer. At least I hope so. It’s salvation! Saved by God’s grace in Jesus that is only received through faith in Jesus. It’s all about Jesus! He saves sinners! And so in the passion reading you heard of miserable sinners and of Jesus who SAVES THEM!

 

Watch what Jesus does to save Peter, James, John, you and a whole world full of sinners. It’s really amazing. Tonight, you learn again to confess that Jesus is the Savior. You are not! Jesus does everything for your salvation. You do nothing. You’re total sinner. Jesus is total Savior.  Check it out. Hear how Jesus is God FOR YOU in this salvific way.

 

Right off the bat you hear that Good Shepherd Jesus will be struck down. Betrayed. Arrested. Viciously beaten. Sentenced to death. Brutally hung on the cross. Consequently, His little flock, the church, will be scattered. “You will all be offended because of me this night.”

 

Do you think you have better words than Jesus? Of course you do. You pipe up with Peter. You mean well and all but you contradict what Jesus just said. “Even if all the others deny you Jesus, I will never deny you.”

 

A bold promise. Like your Baptism Day and Confirmation Day promise. What happens? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Jesus knows that. “You will all be offended because of me this night.” “Truly I say to you this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Things quickly go south. Betrayal. Arrest. Impending doom. Can’t be associated with this kind of Jesus. So Peter denies. He fails. Miserably. Totally. And so do you. “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” And so do you. It’s true. It’s horribly true. And that’s why Jesus is the Savior of sinners!

 

You see the enormity of His savior-ing you and all sinners in Gethsemane. Remember, all this takes place at night. Night is the time of evil – “but this is your hour,” Jesus declares, “and the hour of the power of darkness.” Remember as well that Jesus is in the garden. Why a garden? Well, Jesus is the second and last Adam. He comes to the garden to take on the prince of darkness and overthrow him. Whereas Satan overcame the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, now in Gethsemane’s garden Satan encounters an Adam like no other. A last Adam who will not be overcome! Satan will be conquered! His scaly head crushed! In the garden last Adam Jesus takes the lead to save sinners. To save you. Can’t count on Peter, James and John for any help comfort or words of encouragement. They’re sawing logs. Fast asleep. You would be too.

 

While Jesus faces head on the power of darkness, the betrayer’s kiss, soldiers, officers, lanterns, torches, weapons and the cup of God’s wrath against all sin and every sinner, His “soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” He is in intense “agony.” The sweat drips off His face like enormous blobs of blood.

 

However, as the second and last Adam in this garden He trusts His Father to take care of Him. He trusts that His Father’s Word is absolutely true and reliable for Him. He goes the way marked out for Him by the Scriptures. Pulling out swords, cutting off people’s ears, and calling down twelve legions of angels to wage war is not Jesus’ cup of tea. That is not how He redeems sinners.

 

Instead, even though it was agonizing for Him to do it, He lives by faith! He is the perfect human! Flawlessly He keeps God’s Word FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR SALVATION. He accepts the burden laid on Him. And that’s precisely why He prays repeatedly this way: “Abba, Father … not what I will, but what you will … not my will, but yours be done … O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done.”

 

Strengthened by the angel sent from heaven Jesus knows that He must drink the cup of God’s condemning judgment that your sin deserves. He will suffer it in your place on the cross. Alone. With no help. So that the Scripture from Zechariah is fulfilled in which God said: “‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

 

However, Jesus remains God for His scattered flock. For Peter, James, John, you, young man who “slipped out of his linen cloth and fled away naked” and all the rest who abandoned Him and ran for their lives Jesus boldly promises: “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” In other words, Jesus is promising: “After you have failed me and my Good Friday forgiving love has its way with you, you will realize how completely dependent you are on Me and my Servant ministry to you.” Jesus died for these sinners. He answered for their sins. He restored them as a trusting and confessing church, a new Israel!

 

You too! Jesus is God FOR YOU, not in Galilee but here in this congregation through His Word and Sacrament. He goes ahead of you, meets you and gathers you, the scattered sheep, around Himself. Now He has you as His hangers on, His new Israel. Who cling to His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death for your forgiveness, life and salvation. It’s what you expect to receive from Him just as His promises.

 

Brothers and sisters, He has put me here to speak His Word of forgiveness to you. So that you know Him perfectly. Here goes. No messing around any more. Let there be no doubt.

 

Do you believe that the forgiveness I speak is not my forgiveness by Jesus’ forgiveness? Well, do you?

 

Good! Then let it be done for you as you believe. In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Now, as His forgiven Israel, let’s praise the Good Shepherd Jesus for His mercy and rely on Him all the more with our prayers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     [1]”The Creed properly follows, which sets forth all that we must expect and receive from God; in short, it teaches us to know him perfectly,” (Formula of Concord, Large Catechism II.2 in Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000], 431).

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