The Rev. Paul J Cain
Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion, 17 April 2011
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen
Three Words: Diabolical, [duh lib rut] Deliberate, [duh lib uhr ate] Deliberate. Even though the last two words are spelled the same way, I didn’t repeat myself.
One. Diabolical. The closer we get to Good Friday, the longer the readings get—at least those from one of the four Gospel accounts. And the longer the reading seems, the harder the Devil works in his diabolical way, to get us to zone out the Word of God. At Divine Service, we are accustomed to standing for the reading of the Holy Gospel. Those who are unable to do so for long periods of time sit, but not out of disrespect for the Gospel. Today you all sat. And heard. And sat and heard some more. The eight days beginning today celebrate the fundamental mystery of the Christian faith, the death of Christ on the cross as our substitute and His Resurrection from the dead for us and for our salvation.
If Christians don’t want to sit through long Gospel readings as we meditate upon who Jesus is and what He has done for us—if we Christians are reluctant to listen, who will? The Devil doesn’t want us to. We sin when we give in to him. Jesus died for such sin.
If Christians will not speak up for the Lord’s Day—at the very least Sunday morning—and set aside the work and play they do so that the Lord may work in them through His Word and Spirit, then who will? The devil makes alternative Sunday morning activities look attractive and harmless. That’s why we want to give in and sometimes do. Jesus died for such sin. Be comforted. Forgiveness for the guilt and sin of not hearing God’s Word is delivered in the hearing of God’s Word of Gospel. Forgiveness for the sin of putting someone or something above nourishing your faith in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day with the Lord’s gifts is given in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day by means of the Lord’s own gifts. Ironic, yet comforting. The diabolical works of Satan are defeated in Christ.
Demonic voices called for Jesus to come down from the cross on Good Friday. That was the very day the devil thought he won, but Good Friday was the day of his undoing and Jesus’ victory over sin and death.
Two. [duh lib rut] Deliberate, meaning “on purpose.” The Evangelist wrote what he did on purpose. The Holy Spirit inspired each word, yet each Bible book and each of the four Gospels sounds like their human authors, too. God’s Word is both divine and human—together. Remind you of anyone?
Our Lord Jesus, true man and true God did what he did on purpose, too. He wasn’t surprised by a sinful world. He wasn’t shocked by man’s inhumanity to man. He wasn’t immune to temptation. Temptation is one thing. Being confronted with temptation and giving in to temptation are two very different things. He never sinned, although he had as many opportunites as any of us. And don’t forget—He ran into Satan face-to-face.
Jesus had two natures, human and divine. He had two wills, human and divine. Yet the two natures and two wills worked together. They were in harmony. Jesus prayed that the cup might pass—that God would find some other way than His own innocent suffering and death—yet He surrendered His human will to the Divine Will—Thy will be done. I am in awe. He knew what was going to happen and went through it anyway. What a Savior!
Three. [duh lib uhr ate] Deliberate, meaning, “reflect.” Lent. Repent. These forty days of Lent are our annual reminder to repent daily. Our Lord gives daily bread daily. Our daily contrition and repentance is a return to our baptismal grace. We live as little Christian fish, swimming in the waters of Holy Baptism. We are nourished in the wilderness by God’s Word and Supper. And yes, we are given to meditate, deliberate on our own sinfulness, but we are to drink in God’s Word during our daily deliberation. And no matter how bad you think your sin is, God in Christ can forgive it. And does. That’s what Good Friday was for. That’s why Good Friday was Good. And Jesus’ Easter Resurrection proved it. Meditate upon that!
Three Thoughts: Watch out for the Diabolical workings of the devil. He will do anything he can to get you away from Church, Scripture, faithful Christians, and a life of Christian holiness. [duh lib rut] Deliberate—that’s just what the Lord was in his birth, teaching, suffering, death and resurrection. He did it on purpose. And the Gospel writers wrote what they did and exactly what they did on purpose, for the purpose of bringing you to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit. And finally, [duh lib uhr ate] Deliberate. Holy Week, like Lent before it, is a time to meditate upon your sinfulness. No matter how great it is, your Savior is greater still. Reflect upon that truth most of all. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen