‘The Day the World Changed’

Good Friday
John 19:16b-42

There is no escaping the brutality of the crucifixion. There is no way to read today’s text without a shudder. The Romans were efficient at putting people to death is ways that were very public and excruciatingly painful. And that is the kind of death Jesus willingly accepted. For us.

And his mother was there. Did you pick that up. We almost read past it, as if she is just part of the background, but the woman God chose to bring Jesus physically into this world, to feed him, nurse him, rear him; is there to watch him die in agony. There is nothing pretty or beautiful about this story. And John doesn’t hold back. He was there too. The only of the disciples who was not in hiding. And he wants the reader to know and feel what happened.

It is a relief when Jesus says the words, ‘It is finished.’  We want it to be over. Surely he has suffered enough. His mother has suffered enough. The thieves beside him have suffered enough. The reader has suffered enough. Then finally Jesus says, ‘It is enough. It is finished.’ He has done what he came to do. And he bows his head and dies.

But we are not done yet. John has more to tell. The legs of the thieves on either side of Jesus are broken. This would have been done with a large mallet, so that they can no longer push themselves up against the nails through their feet to get air into their lungs. This will hasten their death, suffocating them. This happened, John tells us, because the authorities do not want the inconvenience of people still being tortured to death when the holy day of Passover is about to begin.

It was after all, as John tells us, the Day of Preparation. That was the day before the Passover in which lambs were sacrificed in preparation for the Passover meal.

The alert reader will recall that at the beginning of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and proclaimed: ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ Jesus even goes before the high priest, for every sacrificial lamb had to be approved spotless by a priest, and he is approved for death – approved by the high priest Annas himself, the one who said it is better for one man to die for the whole people.

And now here Jesus is, the Lamb of God, being sacrificed for us all.

But what we are hearing, what we are seeing, is in stark contrast with the beautiful songs we often sing about the ‘Lamb of God.’ The brutality of it all is relentless. So after Jesus says, ‘It is finished,’ the thieves’ legs are broken, each thief, one leg at a time. Then the soldiers come to Jesus and find he is already dead. But even in death the brutality continues. A spear is thrust into his side – just to be certain.

And Mary is still there. It is difficult to fathom the courage and love it must have taken for Mary to stay there with her son to the very end. But she did.

And that’s the story of Good Friday. And there is nothing pretty about it. But somehow, through this brutal death, through the pain Jesus endured, something shifted. The world changed. The world became somehow less brutal, and more filled with hope.

Something shifted. The world changed through that horrendous death.

And the change begins to be seen almost immediately.

We spot it first in what seems to be a minor post-script to the account of Jesus’ horrendous death. John tells us about two members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council that conspired to send Jesus to Pilate and to his death, two men who muttered only mild questions about the rightness of what the council was doing, two men at whose hearts Jesus’ message had long tugged. But they were too fearful to speak up. John tells us that now, when all is lost, they find the courage to publicly come out as followers of Jesus.

Something has changed. There has been a shift in reality.

The disciples you will recall, with the notable exception of John and a few of the women, are in hiding. Everyone is feeling the bitter sting of defeat. No one is any longer expecting Jesus to overthrow the Romans or to usher in any kind of kingdom. And then, of all times, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus step forward.


Yes, Nicodemus.

You remember him. He showed up early in John’s Gospel, at night when he would not be seen, asking Jesus questions. It was Nicodemus to whom Jesus explained that ‘God so loved the world that he sent is only son, that everyone who believes in him would have eternal life.’ It was Nicodemus to whom Jesus said a person must be ‘born again’ or ‘born from above.’

It was Nicodemus, who when the Sanhedrin first began to plot against Jesus, meekly suggested a person should not be judged without a hearing. And he was mocked with a suggestion that he, too, was a Galilean, and a follower of Jeus (7:50-52). And Nicodemus went quiet and remained quiet.

Until Jesus was crucified.

And Joseph of Arimathea. He was wealthy. He was a member of the ruling council. He was important enough to go straight to Pilate, the Roman governor, and ask for the body of Jesus.

Jesus is dead. The disciples are in hiding. The movement is over. All hope is lost. Then two secret followers with everything to lose come forward, when there was no hope. Jospeh provides his own tomb. And Nicodemus comes with a hundred pounds of ointments and spices to prepare the body.

They came forward when there was nothing to gain and everything to lose. And they did not so quietly or meekly, but in a big way. They went straight to Pilate. They took ownership of Jesus’ body. They put in in one of their own tombs, in a prominent place. They brought an expensive excess of ointments and spices to anoint the body, that it would have taken much effort for the two of them to carry to the tomb. It was a very public, very bold and very dangerous identification with Jesus.

So what happened? Why did they suddenly act.

Something had shifted. The world had changed. And two powerful men with everything to lose suddenly throw caution to the wind.

It was starting.

It would be a long dark Saturday before Sunday morning finally came. Before the disciples and the whole world would began to understand the enormity of what had occurred that Friday afternoon.

But the death of Jesus had already changed everything. And in the surprising action and courage of Joseph and Nicodemus we see the shift already beginning. We see the cracks in the walls of darkness, fear and despair appearing.

Jesus freely went to the cross. He allowed himself to be put to death in one of the most brutal ways imaginable.

We still cringe when we read the story.

But somehow, in the midst of the brutality, the pain, the suffering – the world changed.

God himself in the person of Jesus Christ had not only come to live among us, as John tells us at the beginning of his story, but now God in the person of Jesus has embraced human pain and suffering, dying at human hands, dying among us and for us.

God freely suffered with us and for us. God felt our pain, literally.

And in the midst of darkness, darkness itself cracked. The light of Christ breaks in – and the world changed.

Those at the cross felt it. Joseph and Nicodemus felt it. And soon, the whole world would begin to hear the news. One man’s brutal death had shifted our reality. One man’s painful execution had changed everything.

And here we are, two thousand years later, on Good Friday, still contemplating the depth of what happened on the cross, and how it changed the world – and how it continued to chance each of us.


Pastor Mark Worthing.
Port Macquarie.

God’s dearly loved people

The Text: John 19:23-39

A survey taken overseas asked people about what question they would like to ask God. Most of those asked, said they’d ask God “Why is there suffering?” For many people, suffering makes it very hard to believe in God. The good news of Good Friday is that God didn’t stay aloof from suffering, but shared it with us. God Himself is our co-sufferer who experienced suffering first-hand with us and understands what it’s like to suffer.

A suffering God is the most profound response to human suffering there is. Who knows how much suffering God has had to bear because of the way our sins, faults and failures have hurt Him? Christ’s passion, dying and death are the point at which divine and human suffering meet. It is not enough to know God in His glory and majesty unless we have first got to know our Creator in the suffering of His Son on Good Friday. There can be no pain worse for a parent than to see his son suffer and die in a terribly cruel way, as God the Father did on Good Friday.

 “The crucified Jesus is the only accurate picture of God the world has seen (A. Baker).” By means of Christ’s suffering on the cross for you, God is saying to you, “This is where you ought to be. Jesus, My Son, hangs there in your stead; His tragedy is the tragedy of your life. You are the rebel who should be hanged on the gallows. But lo, I suffer instead of you, and because of you, because I love you, despite what you are. My love for you is so great that I meet you there with my love, there on the cross. I cannot meet you anywhere else. You must meet me there, by identifying yourself with the One on the cross.”

Good Friday was when God took His own medicine. At Calvary God submitted to the conditions He laid down for us and seemed to suffer defeat. But instead God defeated death with death, and our suffering with His own suffering. By entering into our experience of suffering, Jesus can comfort us in all our distresses like no one else can. Over the centuries, Christians have kept coming back to the cross of Christ for comfort, strength and hope. You see, the cross of Christ has released into human history the most powerful force for regeneration and renewal the world has ever seen. It is the pinnacle of everything Christ achieved for us on earth. There Jesus took on responsibility for all our failures, took them as His own and took the punishment they deserve. Instead of judging us, Christ was judged in place of us, with the ungodly men being crucified next to Him, so that we might be acquitted and set free from our sin.

Therefore, as we read in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s the unsurpassed good news Good Friday made possible. There can be no true love without a willingness to suffer for and with those we love. We go to the Cross of Christ for our definition of love. “This is how God showed His love for us: He sent His only Son into the world that we might have life through Him. This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven (1 John 4:9-10).”

Our crucified Saviour continues to attract the devotion and wholehearted commitment of millions of people because His suffering for everyone on the Cross is the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen. At the Cross we see a totally other-centred love. Instead of focussing on His own pain, Jesus shows love for His executioners by asking God to forgive them and welcomes the penitent thief being crucified next to Him into Paradise. Now Jesus shows His love for His mother by making sure she is cared for.

Mary is there with St John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, because they cannot bear to be anywhere else. At the Cross St John was overwhelmed by our Lord’s love for him, and represents all of us who love Jesus and are forever grateful for His love for us. John now places himself at the service of Jesus. Mary sees all the hope she’s placed in Jesus now gone. How sad it is that Jesus’ brothers aren’t there. Maybe they’re too scared to be seen with Him. We wonder what’s going through Mary’s mind. Perhaps Mary is haunted by the words of Simeon: “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”

Thinking more of His mother’s pain and anguish than His own suffering, Jesus now entrusts His mother to the disciple He knows will care for her best of all. “Woman, here is your son” Jesus says to Mary. In doing so, Jesus adopts St John as His brother. Then to John He says, “Here is your mother.” Jesus now gives both of them a new future in the community He has established through His cross and resurrection. His death creates a new set of relationships, bringing together as Christian siblings, those previously unrelated.

John and Mary are the first two members of Christ’s new family, the Christian Church. Jesus had promised to His followers who lose their family members in this life because of Him, He will provide them with Christian siblings. “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now and in this age, houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children…and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).”

Our Lord will now love Mary through John’s love for her and He will show His love for John through Mary. Relationships with fellow Christians have often been deeper than with members of one’s own family. Jesus brings His blessings to us also through our fellow Church members. “We do not live for ourselves only, and we do not die for ourselves only. If we live, it is for the Lord that we live, and if we die, it is for the Lord that we die. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For Christ died and rose to life in order to be the Lord of the living and of the dead (Romans 14:7-9).” The abundant life Jesus offers us is life together with our fellow Christians, where Christians encourage, serve, comfort and are devoted to each other. Our ties with our fellow Christians are so good because they continue forever beyond death.

Our Lord’s next word from the cross—“I thirst!”—is the shortest of His seven words, and the most thoroughly human. I’m sure you can recall a time when you were desperately thirsty and know how desperately you longed for your thirst to be quenched. Jesus now acknowledges His own suffering. In doing so He comes closest to us as a fellow human being. Thirst was one of the worst agonies of crucifixion. Those about to die often asked for a drink just before they passed away. Jesus’ plea is something even a child in need of a drink in the middle of the night can understand.

Jesus became one of us in every way so that He can make us one with Him. When we suffer today, Jesus can sympathise with us, knowing first hand what it’s like to suffer. The soldier who gave Jesus a drink showed him the only act of kindness Jesus received on the Cross. Today we meet Jesus’ thirst by satisfying the thirsty around us: “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink …Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers or sisters, you have done it to me.”

The drink Jesus received revived Him enough so He could utter His cry of victory: “It is finished!” “It is finished” means that Christ’s sacrifice for us is complete. Christ has won the victory over sin, death and the devil. Receipts from that time have been found with these words written across them, meaning the account has been PAID IN FULL. Jesus has paid in full the debts created by our sins. We can add nothing to our salvation, except to thank and praise Jesus forever for all He has done for us. Love at its best defeated evil at its worst. God’s masterpiece is now complete. Christ’s Cross is His victory for us, and Easter is the revelation of that victory. The events of Good Friday are permanently effective for all time. The Cross sanctifies our pain and sorrow so that it can bring blessings into the lives of others. The Cross of Christ enables all who love God to suffer in hope, knowing that “all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28).”

In a chapel in Europe hangs a painting of Christ on the Cross with the words printed under it: “All this I did for you. What have you done for me?” One summer afternoon, the Count of Zinzendorf entered the chapel and was immediately drawn to the painting. He saw love in the pierced hands, love in the bleeding brow, love in the wounded side. Then he read the caption below. Sobbing and weeping, he gave his life to Jesus, whose love had not only saved his soul, but also conquered his heart. The Count of Zinzendorf wrote our hymn “Jesus, your blood and righteousness / my beauty are, my glorious dress”, and spent the rest of his life telling others about the love of Christ revealed so fully on the Cross.
“Love so amazing, so divine / demands my soul, my life, my all.” Amen.

‘Re-member the Cross, the perfection of all’

John 19:28
After this, knowing that all things had been completed, so that scripture might be completed Jesus says, “I thirst.”

            What is truth? Pilate’s question, a great question,and one we ask all the more today, what with media spin and propaganda, especially as we come toward another national election. What is truth? A question I get every year as I teach the Faith in the school, what is the truth about Good Friday? Or, more truly, “why is it called ‘good’?”. Today you have already heard why it is good, what the truth of the cross is. Yet, perhaps it might be helpful to reflect on those words again, to remember.

            Jesus, King of kings, whose Kingdom is over and above all kingdoms and governments of this world; has been crowned, has been raised, has entrusted His mother to His disciple and newly adopted brother. Now knowing that everything is complete, Jesus says, “I thirst” so that scripture would be complete. But hang on, I thought that everything was complete? Now in the Greek, finished, fulfilled, complete, perfected, are all the same word. If everything is complete, if all things are fulfilled, if everything has reached its goal, then what more can be done? Yet even after Jesus knows everything is complete, He goes on to complete scripture. What is going on here? What is the truth?

            The truth is, today He drinks anew with you in His kingdom. We know that after the Last Supper Jesus tells His disciples, “I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 26:29; Mark 1). Then on Good Friday early afternoon, He drinks of the fruit of the vine, wine vinegar held with the hyssop plant (Psalm 69:21). And this is to fulfill what was written, as we remembered last night at Passover, the hyssop was used to paint the blood of the lamb onto the door posts for the salvation and sanctification of the ancient Israelites and the repentant Egyptians among them (Exodus 12:22; Psalm 51:7). And Today we hear, The fruit of the vine and salvation from sin, death and the devil. On the cross, at the fulfilment of all things, Jesus remembers the Exodus, the tabernacle, the purification of God’s ancient people, and also His words last night after His supper. On the cross He remembers all this and fulfills it, completes it, perfects it. On the cross is the fulfilment of all things, the goal of Creation. On that cross, as God Himself reigns, Jesus remembers His disciples and drinks with them anew, just as He remembers you. The truth of Good Friday is, Christ’s kingdom has come, Today He reigns, and Today He wins the victory for you. Today your sin, which you have loved; your death, which you have feared; your demons, which you have obeyed; all these are defeated at the cross and you have the goal of your Faith in union with Christ, the author and perfecter of your salvation.

            The wonderful and dreadful truth is that you have been saved at the cross, you are being saved as you remember and live Christ’s life, and you will be saved when He is revealed at the end of this false world.

            And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now until the Truth alone stands.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

‘Are you the King of the Jews?’

The Text: John 18:33-39


Every Christian has a calling to publicly confess and speak of our faith in Christ and our faith in the Triune God, before others, before the world and even before governors and kings. This confession the Church in our day is called to make—our confession of faith—goes right back to the Lord Jesus himself.

So let’s take a closer look at this good confession that Jesus himself makes, as we heard in our Gospel reading.

We encounter Jesus here in the middle of his trial, before Pontius Pilate. There has been this back and forth with the religious leaders outside, but now we’re inside, behind closed doors, and the focus is very much just on Jesus and Pilate.

Pilate wants to cut straight to the chase, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’

But like he often does Jesus is not too keen on answering questions directly. He responds in this sort of cryptic way, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ He immediately shifts the conversation onto his terms and it’s almost as if Pilate is the one under interrogation.

It seems that Jesus is trying to get back behind Pilate’s tough, matter-of-fact demeanor, and dig deeper, trying to engage Pilate about what really matters.

It reminds me a little of the way Jesus speaks to his disciples elsewhere: “What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

We can’t keep Jesus at arms-length forever and only be interested in information about him. It must become personal at some point, and Pilate, whether he like it or not, is having that encounter.

But Pilate doesn’t respond well. He is dismissive and scornful of Jesus’ question. It’s as if he’s saying, ‘Of course it’s others who have told me, I don’t care about your little Jewish squabbles, I’m not personally interested in whether you’re the king of the Jews or not, except that it’s beginning to cause me political problems and I want to sort it out. So–what have you done Jesus?

Again Jesus answers in an indirect and somewhat cryptic way, saying: ‘My Kingdom is not from this world. If my Kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to other Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here’.

Now why does Jesus answer like this? 

Pilate gets the implication. “So you are a King?” he says. For Jesus to say he has a kingdom is to admit he is a King. But perhaps Jesus answers like this because he knows that old rule of discussion and debate, about the need to define one’s terms. Pilate wants to talk about kingship, but he has in mind a very particular definition of what it means to be a King, which is about political strength, military action, and this worldly power.

And although Jesus is the true King, He is such a different sort of King. His kingdom has such a different character, that he can hardly name it as the same thing Pilate has in mind.

It comes from a whole other world, from above, from heaven, from God. And one thing this means then, that Jesus outlines here, is that his kingdom does not come and does not advance itself by human strength, not by political power and military might, and especially not by violence.

Jesus wants Pilate to consider that, if he were a King like the kings of this world, wouldn’t his followers be rising up in violent rebellion?

And yet they’re not! In fact when one of them did, Jesus stopped him and healed the one he had struck, because he’s an entirely different King, with an entirely different sort of Kingdom.

Now after this incredible statement it’s tragic that Pilate seems to miss all that and go back to the basic question, ‘So you are a King’. Pilate isn’t interested in these deeper questions and the nature of Jesus’ Kingdom, he just wants to work out if Jesus is claiming to be a King or not, and he wants to get on with the job.

But Jesus, in his graciousness and patience, comes at it from another angle, describing his Kingship and kingdom in another way. ‘For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’.

Yes—Jesus is a king. And Jesus has a kingdom. But its primary concern is not land and wealth. It’s not bigger palaces and more luxury for the King and his court.

But notice this too, it’s primary concern is not in the first place even just making the lives of its subjects ‘better’ in worldly terms.

The primary concern of this King and this kingdom is truth, Jesus says. He’s come to testify to what’s real and what’s true.

Now this evidently grated with Pilate, as much as it still does with people in our day. Our human instinct is toward being pragmatic, even at the expense of the truth, finding what works, what’s relevant for me now today. But truth—well that can be in the too hard basket.

And this is also the temptation for us in the Church. It’s good for us to remember that although the Christian faith brings practical benefits in our lives, ultimately no one should be or become a Christian just because it works for them, but because it’s true.

Pilate’s final response though is the most dismissive and tragic of them all: ‘What is truth?’ And he simply walks away.

And yet Pilate’s encounter with Jesus had meant enough for him to be able to go back out and say, ‘I find no case against him.’

Although Pilate eventually let them have their way and crucify Jesus, his encounters with Jesus did mean enough that the inscription above him on the cross read ‘This is the King of Jews’, and Pilate would say, again somewhat mysteriously and cryptically: ‘what I have written, I have written’.

Little did Pilate know that the one in front of him was not only the true King of the Jews, but the very Son of God in human flesh, come to save the world.

Little did Pilate know, that the one who said he came to testify to the truth, was in fact himself the way, the truth, and the life, who came from heaven to earth, full of grace and truth.

Little did Pilate know that the one he sent to be crucified, had come to lay down his life for the Jews. For Pilate, for the world…and for each one of us.

And as he died and rose again from the dead, as he ascended to his Father, he has ushered in this kingdom, and has invited us into it. Jesus made his good confession before Pilate, as he went the way of the Cross for us. Let us be prepared to make our good confession before the world, of Christ, our King, the crucified and risen Saviour of the world. Amen.

‘Baptism, Communion, the Crux of Victory!’

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds”,

            Foretold from the Fall that He would be injured, the serpent crushed; that the offspring of Eve would destroy sin, death and the devil (Genesis 3). Promised to God’s ancient people, a suffering servant, offspring of David and God Himself (Isaiah 52-53; Ezekiel 34). His death sung by Isaiah in his prophecies and in the psalms. Despised by all, abandoned by His closest friends, pierced and lifted up, surrounded by enemies, lots thrown for His clothes. He cried out this Psalm 22, His prayer in His crucifixion. Dry in the dust of death, but you O Lord are my strength, deliver/rescue/save me from my enemies. The last line of that Psalm, they will proclaim to a people yet unborn, that He has done it. It is finished. Christ is Victor!

            This is the second part of the Divine service of Easter, after the command to share Christ’s love, and before the Glorious, Wonderful Day of His proclamation. Here today the victory is won. The wonderous New Covenant is cut, as the old Hebrew goes, This new relationship between God and His creation is made here on the cross. We are draw into it by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Holy Communion. This Covenant cut in Jesus, the relationship born on the cross. Water and blood flowing from Him, baptism and Holy Communion where we grow in this relationship. Last night Jesus proclaimed it, a relationship grown over a meal; His Blood of the New Covenant. Now Today, we see what this relationship, this mystery means. He carries the burden of our sin, as we might carry the failure of our child/friend/worker, He carries the failure of the Jewish leaders, the guilt of those who called for the death of an innocent man, the sin of Pilate, He carries the sin of the whole world on His shoulders as He carried that cross beam to the place of the skull (1 Peter 2:24). As The High Priest, Jesus mediates with God on our behalf, to deal with our sin; and as The pure sacrifice He takes on our sin and dies with it. Jesus is victorious over sin.

            He who is Life, Truth, He who is our righteousness, Jesus in the same way as He healed by touching others and overpowering their illness, Jesus touches us and destroys sin, death and the devil in our lives. The pure water and blood that poured from His side are brought to us by the Holy Spirit, for our purification in Baptism and Holy Communion. This is why we renounce the devil and die to sin, how we proclaim Christ’s death until He comes. There is no other way besides Jesus for our reconciliation with God Almighty, and this is why the author says: “Therefore, siblings, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

            As we cling to Him, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Good Friday

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Let’s  join in a word of prayer: Loving God and Father, today we gather with all those who mourn over the fall of humanity.  Sin that required the sacrifice of a sinless Son of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Help us to experience, in a tangible way, Your presence in our lives and our worship today.  Open our hearts and minds to your plan for our lives that has been worked out through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Recently, I revisited Max Lucado’s book “He chose the nails”.  Max encourages us to encounter the mysterious gifts that Jesus chose to give us through his sacrifice. The gifts of Good Friday and Easter Morning are the most precious gifts any person could ever receive because they cost God so much to give.  The Apostle John records those words of John 3:16:  ‘God loved the people of the world so much, he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him will have everlasting life and not perish.”

God did this for us—just for us—because he loves each one of us so much.

When Jesus was taken from his disciples, abused and bound,  he knew the humility that sin binds to all people. Yet Jesus chose to become one of us.

When Jesus stood falsely accused before the chief priests and teachers of the law, he knew the guilt that sin cries out against all people.  Yet Jesus chose to forgive us.

When Jesus stood before the crowd in the hands of the soldiers of the Roman Governor, he knew the rejection and isolation that sin brings upon all people.  Yet Jesus chose to invite us into his holy presence in eternity.

When Jesus felt the hatred of those crying out for him to be crucified, he knew the cruel sentence that sin brings upon all people.  Yet Jesus chose to love us forever.

When Jesus suffered the lash and the cross, he knew the awful suffering that sin casts upon all people.  Yet Jesus chose to give us the victory in his own crucifixion.

And yet, as Chad Bird writes in his book:  Finding God in the Most Unexpected Places:

The glory of God was revealed on the cross of crucifixion.  And yet ‘seeing God on the cross, we do not see.  That is, unless our spiritual eyes have been transferred to our ears.  Unless we see him through the prophecies of Isaiah about the Servant who would be “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces”. (Isa 53:3)

The Servant who would be “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (v 5)  If the Word of God, not the vision of our eyes, defines what is real, then we shall really see God on the cross.  We shall bask in the glory where no glory is to be seen.  On the cross and only on the cross, the scales shall  fall from our eyes so that we finally get it:  ‘God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring in the presence of God’. (1 Cor 1:27-29)

The Cross is God’s veiled unveiling.  It is his absent presence.  It is heaven dressed up as hell.  The cross defines how God has always worked and always will.  This is radical life-changing realization.  Beginning in Genesis, and continuing even now in our own lives is the God of the cross. … He conquered the cosmos by suffering defeat in death. He made his life our own, by letting humanity murder him’.  (‘Your God is Too Glorious – Finding God in the most unexpected places’  by Chad Bird, Baker Books, page 24)

So here we are together, honouring the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.  A sacrifice through which Jesus offers the precious gifts witnessed by this holy week.

We didn’t see the star in the sky on the night he was born in our humanity.  We didn’t hear the witness of shepherds about the visit of angels.  We didn’t see him turn water into wine, or calm a storm, or feed 5000 with two fish and five loaves.  We haven’t seen him teaching and healing in the Temple.  We haven’t seen him being questioned by the religious leaders, and the Roman Governor.  We haven’t seen him being whipped for our transgressions.  We haven’t seen him ridiculed by the pagan soldiers.   We haven’t seen him hanging lifeless on a cross.  And yet, we believe.  As Jesus would say to Thomas after his resurrection, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29 NLT)

We have learned from the ancients of faith, that God prepared the world through his prophets for the arrival of a Saviour, a Messiah.  The arrival they only hoped for.  The arrival we have heard about from the Scriptures that witness what we have not seen, and yet believe.

We have received the encouragement from the Apostles that the faith we have in our Saviour is as precious, as valid, as powerful, as important as the faith of the Apostles, the Prophets, the Ancients of the Faith.

We have cherished the reality of Scripture, received from our nearer forefathers of the Reformation, that we are in a right relationship with God our Father, through the faith we have in Christ Jesus who offered forgiveness from the cross.

When Jesus whispered from the cross that “It is finished,” we can be assured that it was the end of the old.   And a new beginning of God’s presence among us.  The beginning of life in the presence of God’s eternity.  The call to discipleship, and the unfolding of history into the future from creation to Apostles to modern Christianity.

As Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23–27 NLT)

The gifts that Jesus chose to give us in his death and resurrection show us the unfolding plan of God for us all. With a sure conclusion of the utter defeat of the devil; and the ultimate victory of God’s plan.  A  plan for those through time and place who receive Christ Jesus, those who believe in his name, those to whom God has given the right to become his children.

We are part of God’s ultimate plan in the ultimate victory of Christ Jesus.  Because Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s plan for salvation, as he cried, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

For us now, in our generation, in our time, and in our place, we are called to be faithful in living the faith we have received by the Holy Spirit working in word and sacrament.

We are warned from Hebrews, ‘Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.’

As we approach the conclusion of our age, and the revealed victory of God’s plan for life, we are given the task to hold onto the faith we have received.  To witness that faith by our actions, our attitudes and our words, as we live out our part of God’s plan as children of God who can be trusted.   To encourage each other, as we all face those times when we are tempted to doubt God’s care for us.

To find enjoyment, fulfillment, and purpose in meeting together in fellowship as our hearts sing together the praises of our Saviour who died for us.

This is especially important now that we are closer to our Lord’s return than ever before in history.  When we witness events and hostilities that surely point to the end of times.  As one sign recently said, ‘one in hundred years drought, fire, flood and pandemic, all in 18 months.’  And yet, we realize as Jesus tells us clearly that only the Father knows when he will wrap up this age, and usher in a new age of peace and love.  And that will be wonderful.

Because of Good Friday, we can hear the words of Hebrews with a new direction in our life,  ‘dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us.’

And so, today, as we grieve the suffering and death of our Saviour, and we prepare to celebrate His awesome resurrection, let’s hold onto these words of Hebrews, ‘without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.’   And may the grace and peace of God keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   AMEN.

Good Friday

The Text: Matthew 27:15-26


It had been a long night as Jesus was accused and taunted before the Jewish Council and the high priest Caiaphas. Even under the cover of darkness when evil seems to get the upper hand, they had not been able to make their feeble accusations stick. And yet Jesus was still alone. Peter had denied Him as He had predicted. The other disciples were off in hiding, and Judas was filled with despair over the betrayal he had committed for a few coins. It’s at this point that they drag Jesus before yet another judge. As the highest official in Roman occupied Israel, Pilate is the only one who is authorised to sentence someone to death. And so the cowards come, seeking someone else to do their dirty work.

As much as Pilate has received a bad rap over the years, he is no fool. He quickly works out that Jesus is innocent of any crime and so he does his best to have the crowd release Jesus. He chooses the worst of the worst in prison at that time. Barabbas the terrorist. A murderous, thieving, hate-filled criminal who was waiting to be crucified. Pilate is convinced that regardless of the Jewish leaders’ request, the crowd would rather have Jesus roaming the streets than this notorious prisoner from death row.

And so Pilate asks the crowd which of the two they want him to release. Barabbas they scream. Angry that an innocent man is about to be killed, Pilate washes his hands and declares that he is innocent of Jesus’ blood. And at this point the crowd makes what is perhaps the most shocking statement in the whole passion narrative. “His blood be on us and our children,” they declare. As if it wasn’t enough that they willingly take the blame for Jesus’ crucifixion, they are happy for His blood to be on their children as well!

And so with that Barabbas walks free and Jesus is handed over to be crucified. Barabbas – a name which ironically means ‘son of a father’ – is released and the true Son of the Father takes His place to be put to death. The son deserving to die is let off, and the innocent Son of the Heavenly Father is sacrificed in his place.

Dear friends we are all Barabbas in one way or another – sons and daughters of earthly fathers. Children born of natural descent and living out our lives on death row due to our inherited sin – not to mention the sin we commit daily. But the Son of the Father – none other than the Lord Jesus – put up no fight when He was pitted against you and me in the person of Barabbas. Instead He willingly accepted the verdict and submitted to the Romans that He might be put to death for the sins of the world, for all those who have been born of an earthly father and found to have fallen short of the glory of God. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, Jesus did not open His mouth, but took Barabbas’ place, my place and your place, and suffered what we deserved.

Barabbas is no two-bit criminal. He’s not waiting execution by accident. He was due to get what he deserved. But Jesus is chosen and He takes on the guilt of this terrorist, and Barabbas in declared innocent. The sweet swap some have called it. Jesus gets our sin and we get His righteousness, innocence and blessedness. Jesus endures the fullness of God’s judgment on sin, and we are declared innocent – not because we deserve it any more than Barabbas did – but because Jesus came to do just this so that we would not be lost for eternity.

And so as the name Barabbas points to the innocent Jesus taking the place of sinners like you and me, so also that shocking statement from the crowd points to His work in an even greater way. “His blood be on us and our children,” they shouted as they sought to have Jesus executed.

When we come to Good Friday each year it is sobering for us to recognise our part in the crucifixion of Jesus. To recognise that the denials and cowardice of Peter are never far below the surface in our own lives. To accept that in the crowd calling for His crucifixion we can hear the voice of our sin. And in gazing upon the cross we realise that it is indeed our sin which held Him there. But for all of that, I don’t think too many would want to identify themselves with these bloodthirsty people in crowd who said, “His blood be on us and our children.”

But again, with no small amount of irony, the crazed words of this murderous crowd point to exactly what Jesus will accomplish over the next three hours. As He hangs crucified, the innocent suffering servant, Jesus endures the wrath of God for all who have sinned and fallen short of His glory. He is abandoned by God the Father. He is crushed in punishment for every sin of every person. Purchasing forgiveness with His own blood – the same blood the crowds called down upon themselves and their children. This blood flows and freely offers new life even to those who would be guilty of spilling it.

While they were prepared to have the guilt of Jesus blood on their hands and the hands of their children, Jesus offers up His blood for a better purpose, even for those who called for His death. As the letter to the Colossians says, Jesus has made peace between sinners like us and our Heavenly Father, through the blood of the cross. This blood, this death, offers forgiveness and freedom to all who believe.

It had been a long night and an even longer day as Jesus hung on the cross while the sun did not shine. As He gave up His spirit and died at the ninth hour, all the dark schemes of men and demons, all the hate-filled words and injustices meted out upon Him, all our sin and the death we deserve, all of this was consumed in His body as He wrestled it into the tomb on our behalf.

Dear children of God, the silence of the tomb over the next days is not the sound of defeat. It is the beginning of the sound of victory for our God, as sin and death and the devil are finally defeated in Jesus’ body and lie speechless as He conquers them in our place.

When Barabbas should have died, when the crowds should have been punished, when you and I should stand condemned – Jesus dies and we are set free. In the midst of death, the Lord lives and so will we! Amen.

Good Friday

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed.”

            Today we remember again the death of the one who loves us and gave everything for us. Betrayed by His friends and followers, first Judas, then the rest, even Peter three times disowning Him; betrayed and condemned by the Jews and their leaders, those who had waited for His coming for many years and generations; flogged and crucified by those He had come to save. This is your king, crowned on His wooden throne, for all the world to see His power. But we still see a naked man torn and bleeding, dying on that cross; He who had given so much, bread to the 5000, healing throughout Judah, even raising the dead, now himself dying. As Isaiah said 700 years before, we consider him punished, struck down and afflicted by God.

            But God’s word is certain, He spoke the world into being and continues to sustain all creation, the world has not ended yet. Isn’t it amazing that He gave those words to the Israelites 700 years before it happened. And even before that, David sung of the coming Messiah, even telling of how He would suffer, how His clothes would be divided (Psalm 22). God’s Word and promise was true and sure for Isaiah and the Kingdom of Judah, and for David and the United Kingdom of Israel, even though they did not see it. These and the other prophets, speakers of God’s Word, were desperately waiting and looking forward to the fulfilment of God Almighty’s promise (1 Peter 1:10-12). They had a glimpse of what was to come, and they faithfully pointed forward to the wonders and marvels that God would do for all people in Jesus Christ. And today we again remember that wonder, that marvel, that Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, was afflicted and killed, pierced for your transgressions, crushed for your corruption. Struck down, He bore all your sins, took your guilt and shame, the sickness of sin that all people are born with, that desire to go our own way, away for life and toward our destruction. Jesus took all that onto Himself, He died and with Him died your sin and guilt, upon Him was the punishment that brought you peace, and with His wounds you are healed. These are the sure words of God, they will not pass away even 2000 years after Jesus said, ‘it is finished’, even still now, with His wounds you are healed.

            We who trust His words, who follow Him in the only way to life, we remember today, but also every time we see the cross, or the crucifix, this deathly event. But don’t forget what Christ’s death means for you, for me and for all people, whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Don’t forget the wonder of God’s Word coming to fruition, like a flower finally blooming, this is the event that all God’s people look to, both before and after; it is right to date our calendar back to the life of Jesus, this is the focal point of all creation, time and space. We everyday battle against the desire to focus on other things, to live for work, family, power, wealth, even ourselves, and not live with Jesus; to go our own way. But it is not your boss who gives you life, your strength cannot heal you, money does not take your sin away and destroy it, only in Jesus are you safe and free from the destruction you bring on yourself. But there, Jesus enthroned on the cross, there all our sin, our evil, is dealt with, and God frees you and me, freely He gives peace, joy and love, even counting us righteous, forgetting every one of our betrayals and restoring you and me to the wonderfully merciful, just and loving arms of our Heavenly Father, with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

            By His wounds you are healed.

And the peace which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, crowned on the cross. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Good Friday

Text: John 19:28-3028

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished,and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,Jesus said,“I am thirsty.”29A jar of wine vinegarwas there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.30When he had received the drink, Jesus said,“It is finished.”With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.It is finished

We wonder why Jesus’ ministry had to end this way.Why was it necessary for Jesus to die?They are very reasonable questions, but they are not questions that we would ask if we truly understand what Jesus promised.Take St Peter for example.Jesus prophesied that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.Peter objected and said, “Never, Lord –this will never happen to you”.But did Peter hear Jesus properly?It is very likely that Peter didn’t hear fully what Jesus said.It is likely that once he heard Jesus say that he must be killed that he stopped paying attention.And that’s what death does.When we hear about death, especially about the death of someone we love it can also make us wonder why.Why does life end?Why is it necessary to die?But Peter needed to listen to Jesus and the totality of what he said:asHe said that after he was killed, on the third day he would be raised to life.But even as Christians we don’t always think of that when we are confronted with death.We don’t automatically think of eternal life when someone we love dies.We are usually so grief stricken thatwe cannot see past the reality of death.Even St Paul acknowledges that when he speaks of Christ’s victory over death.He says: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Whereas death no longer has victory because of Jesus’ death and resurrection it certainly still carries its sting.And that sting is evident every time we sit at the bedside of a loved one –as we watch the coffin lowered into the grave, as we visit the gravesite of our loved ones –the sting of grief in death remains.But Paul also reminds us that we grieve but not as those who have no hope.We have hope because we know that the grave will not hold Jesus for long. We know that on the third daythat he will rise.But those 3 days are so long when it’s someone we love.Even though we know that we will be reunited with all our loved ones as we await the resurrection, it is so hard because the grief is so deep.Asking “why” about death or questioning God’s love because of death won’t remove the sting of death from our experience.Our loved ones will continue to face the reality of death and we shall continue to face the reality of our own death.Death is a reality of life.The only way to truly findcomfort in death is to listen carefully to what Jesus said about his own death.On the third day I will be raised to life.Without death there can be no resurrection.Without Jesus’ resurrection,we can never see death in any other way than an horrific event.Even Jesus’ own death is meaningless without that final part that Peter missed –on the third day I will be raised to life.To outsiders, a battered and broken Jesus who could no longer hold his head up and died in humiliation and defeat could not possibly be anything but a reminder of the pain and finality of death and no hope at all. But to those who believe into him, the true Son of God has completed his great work of defeating death and he cries out “it is finished”.But what is finished?Death’s victory is finished.As St Paul says, “the message of the cross if foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.And the power of God is,that just as Jesus has been raised from the dead,we too shall be raised to eternal life.Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished,” is clear and simple. No long explanations of how –no detailed sermon of what you have to do.Just “it is finished.”Jesus has completed his task that God sent him to do. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and eternal life. He came to give us the victory of death –the same victory over death that he achieved. He came to ensure that we would enter his kingdom of heaven and live forever.That’s why Jesus had to die because in order todefeat death he had to die and rise from death.And just as Jesus has risen from the dead, we too shall live a new life when we die.Thanks be to God who gives us the victory over death. Amen

Everything is complete!

Text: John 19:28-30

Jesus knew that by now everything had been completed; and in order to make the scripture come true, he said, “I am thirsty.” A bowl was there, full of cheap wine; so a sponge was soaked in the wine, put on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted up to his lips. Jesus drank the wine and said, “It is finished!”

It was three o’clock. Jesus called for water. He could hardly speak. A soldier fixed a sponge on a spear and held it up to his lips. It was terribly bitter but it was enough. He strained to raise his head and look up to heaven. “It is finished,” he cried and then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

At the time, the moment was filled with too much emotion for those words to sink in and to ponder what they meant. But later as the early Christians read John’s Gospel and heard again those words, it dawned on them just how powerful these dying words of Jesus were. John wrote his Gospel in Greek, and those last words of Jesus are just one word in Greek – tetelestai (pronounced te-tel-es-sty).

The expression “It is finished” or tetelestai was well known to them. It was a part of everyday language.

When a servant had completed a difficult job that his master had given him to do, he would say to the master – tetelestai – “I have overcome all the difficulties; I have done the job to the best of my ability. It is finished”.

When the Jewish people went to the temple with their sacrifice, the High Priest would examine what was brought. Most likely, he didn’t speak Greek but he would use the Hebrew equivalent of tetelestai – meaning, “Your offering is accepted; it is perfect”.

When the merchant at the market place made a sale and the money was handed over, he would say, “tetelestai – the deal is finished, complete. The price has been paid in full. I am satisfied”.

When an artist had finished a painting or a sculpture he would stand back and say, tetelestai – it is finished; there is nothing more that can be done to make this piece of art any better. This painting is complete.

When a boy recited to his father a difficult passage he had learnt from the Scriptures or a girl showed her mother the bread she had baked for the family, they would say tetelestai and the parents responded with, “Well done, my child, I am very proud of you.”

When Jesus spoke those final words he wasn’t just saying, “This is the end of me” as if there was nothing else to do but to give in to his enemies and die. His last words weren’t a final surrender to the power of Satan as if to say, “You have won. I’m done for”. These words don’t tell us that Jesus was dead now and that’s all there is to it. He is finished and so is everything that he stood for and promised during his earthly life.

All those who heard the word tetelestai – the servants, those who offered sacrifices at the temple, the buyers and sellers at the market place, the artists and parents and children understood that Jesus is saying that his job of saving the world has been completed.
He has finished the task and nothing can be added to what has been done.
Jesus has paid the price in full – he has cancelled all debt.
His sacrifice has been a perfect one, acceptable to the heavenly Father who, looking down on his Son hanging lifelessly from the cross, said, “Well done, this is my dear Son with whom I am well pleased”.
Tetelestai – it is finished. Everything is complete!

What is it that is finished when Jesus says, “It is finished”?

Reconciliation is finished. The word ‘reconciliation’ has been used a lot in connection with the relationship between the aboriginal people of our country and the rest of the community. The terrible things that happened in the past have caused a rift between black and white people. Efforts have been made to heal the differences, to close the gap caused by past actions, to restore friendship, to be reconciled.

A terrible gap has come between God and all humanity caused by sin and evil. Our offences, our disobedience, the hurt we have caused God and others have destroyed our relationship with God. Recall a time when you have done something that has hurt someone else and because of that your friendship with that person has been damaged, a gap has come between you, and you felt uneasy when you met that person, in fact you may have avoided that person. All of that doesn’t change until you put aside your differences and friendship is restored.

In the movie Grand Canyon, a tow truck driver is threatened by five troublemakers as he attempts to rescue a terrified motorist. He says, “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, but this ain’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without askin’ if I can. And that dude is supposed to able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here.”

And he’s right. Everything’s supposed to be different. God created a perfect beautiful world and he made people to live in harmony and peace with one another. But look what’s happened. We all know what an effect our poorly chosen words and lack of consideration have on our relationship with family members and friends. Greed and selfishness destroy friendship and separate people and nations. That tow truck driver hit the nail on the head when he said - “Man, the world ain’t supposed to work like this”.

Sin has a devastating effect on our relationship with God. Sin separates us from God and if we want to have any hope of going to heaven to be with God, then someone had to deal with sin and restore our relationship with God. So God sent his Son into the world for this very purpose.

Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin to condemn us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “Salvation is finished”, Jesus cried. The restoration of the friendship between God and humanity has been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth has been completed.
He has won forgiveness for all people.
Nothing else needs to be done.
Salvation is complete. “It is finished”.

That’s why we call today “Good Friday”. It certainly wasn’t a good day for Jesus. He endured pain, soul-wrenching agony, hanging by the nails in his hands for hours, death on a rough wooden cross, for our sakes. We call today “Good Friday” because the cross is proof of the powerful love that God has for each of us. No one, not even God, would do something like that unless he truly loved us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us.

We have known love to do some very powerful and strange things. A teenager Arthur Hinkley lifted a farm tractor with his bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his best friend, eighteen-year-old Lloyd, was pinned under a tractor. Arthur heard Lloyd screaming for help and Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out. His love for his best friend somehow enabled him to do what would normally be impossible.

There is the story of a priest who offered his life in place of a teenage boy in Nazi Germany. His offer was accepted and the priest died to save the boy’s life.

And then there was the young soldier who had been condemned to death by Oliver Cromwell. He was to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. His fiancée climbed the bell tower and tied herself to the clapper of the giant bell so that it would not ring. When the bell did not ring, soldiers went to investigate and found the girl battered and bleeding from being bashed against the sides of the bell. Cromwell was so impressed by her love for the young man that he was pardoned.

Because of love, people do extraordinary things for others. They give us a glimpse, a small glimpse, at the kind of love that God has for us. God the Father sent his dearly loved Son into dangerous territory. He allowed his Son to be treated cruelly. He stood by and watched his innocent Son be nailed to a cross and to hang there in agony. He could have rescued him and cursed those who were treating him so brutally and maliciously. He allowed his Son to carry the sin of all humanity and so become repulsive even to his own Father. I don’t think we can fully appreciate what it meant for the Father to abandon the Son and let him died at the hands of evil people. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” we sense something of the terror of bearing the weight of the sin of all humanity.

God did all this for us. He did all this because of his love for us.

Paul writes, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:8,10). That’s how much God loves us – Jesus died for us even though we don’t deserve it. His death has made us God’s friends.

Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished” is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory. He came to ensure that we would enter his kingdom and live forever.

Today we’re going to do an “Altar Call”. You don’t have to get up; you don’t have to raise a hand or say a word. All I want you to do is close your eyes. For a short while, I want you to think about what Jesus has done for you through his death on the cross. Visualise in your mind the suffering Saviour. Think about the love that God has for you, and thank him. Ask God to wrap you tightly in his love – forgiving you, watching over you, guiding you. If you feel that Jesus and his love for you are not real for a large part of your life, ask for his help.


We pray:
Loving God,
what you have done for us in Jesus’ death on the cross is far more than we deserve. His death has made us friends with you again. His death has given us forgiveness and the hope of life forever. Everything is complete. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Amen.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy