Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An unpolished good friday sermon

Here's my Good Friday talk. 10 minutes. I'm putting it up in it's actual written form, which often bears little relation to what I end up saying, but is far more honest about my writing skills and preparation. It is here because tabs are a better way for me to file, Enjoy

How can this be a Good Friday?
a nightime arrrest, a hasty trial, a friends betrayal
How can this be a good friday?
they beat Jesus, our Lord, they spat on him, they pushed a crown of thorns into his skull
How can this be a Good Friday?
an innocent man carries a lump of wood on his back, has nails driven through his arms and feet, hasa spear pierced through his side
How can this Friday, this Friday, be good?
How is it that christians can speak of this death as a good thing?
How can we speak of any death as a good thing?
Death is a horror, an enemy, a tragedy.
There are very few stuations where we would say that death was welcome. Isn’t there. Very few deaths that we would call good. Very few who look forward to death.
Perhaps only those with the most trapped and hemmed in lives would call death good.
The prisoner languishing in prison on a life sentence, maybe they would call death a good escape.
Or the terminally ill, who suffer a long slow decline. Perhaps for them we would say death is good.
But Jesus’ death is neither of these. Jesus is not a prisoner for long, No he is arrested, tried and executed with a day. Nor can we say that Jesus death is somehow an escape from suffereing, as we read the gospel accounts, we find his death was the reverse of an escape from suffering.
How is it then, that we can say that this day, this Friday, when Jesus hangs on the cross, is a good friday?
The bible does speak of people whose lives are trapped. People whose lives are like a long prison sentence, like a long kidnapping ordeal, like slavery. And it is us. The bible speaks of All humanity as though we are imprisoned by evil.

We are trapped in a world where we cannot escape evil happening to us.
We are trapped by our own selfish desires, and so we perpetuate that evil.
We are trapped by our pasts, and by guilt from our past
We are so enmeshed in a world of violence and vengeance, we hardly even notice
so insttutionalised by the prison of sin that we have forgotten that there is a another way to live
We are imprisoned by our fear of death, so even when we know what is right, when push comes to shove, we will not do it.
Sin and evil, these forces within us, but somehow also larger than us, are like prison guards, like strong men, who keep us locked up tight, away from God, hostile to him alone in our cells.
And the Bible speaks as though everyone, everyone is locked in this prison, and the hope of release seems slim.

But Jesus didn’t live a trapped life.
God sends his Son Jesus, as a man, as a human. God sends Jesus into our prison. But instead of a life lived trapped in selfishness, he freely lives his life for others, instead of being trapped in violence and vengeance, he freely forgives those who hate him, instead of being trapped by fear of death, he freely obeys the will of his Father, all the way to the end. And by freely following his Father, he breaks the power of Sin and evil. This is why we call this day Good Friday.
Throughout the gospels, as Jesus faces the temptation to disobey his Father, to destroy his enemies, to take his kingdom by force, to avoiud the cross, the question lingers, will, Jesus give in, will he become part of this prison of evil.
As Jesus hangs, dying, suffering, in agony on the cross, as the evil world throws everything it has at him Because as Jesus hangs on the cross, as he commits his Spirit into the hands of his FAther, as he breaths his last, as his life comes to an end, he has won. He has not given in to the system of Evil and sin. Here finally is a person whose whole life was lived toward God. Here finally is a human who was faithful, right to the end. Here finally is one who has faced all the temptations but has survived them all.
When Jesus dies, he wins. He breaks the power of Sin and Evil. The one who died has been freed from Sin.
We call this day Good Friday, because it is the day Good wins, even by dying. But why celebrate Jesuss victory? How is this Friday good for us? Well, it is good for us, because his death is also ‘for us’. The apostle Paul explains it in Romans 6 he says “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?.. v6 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”
When Jesus dies, when he wins that victory over sin, he ties up those strong guards , Sin and Evil. He opens all our prison doors, the chains that bind us fall off, as he says to each one of us, “Follow me, follow me away from that Old life of slavery to Sin and Evil, that old life is dead, follow me to freedom, follow me to a new life”
As Christians, we celebrate Good Friday, because Good Friday is the day that our Old, trapped, imprisoned lives died. Today is the dayy Jesus set us free
And Jesus still calls those words out to us to today “Follow me into freedom, into a new life”

Some of you are still trapped by Sin, still trapped by Evil. The prison door is open and you are still sitting in your cells. Today is the day for freedom, the way out is to follow Jesus. If you want to be free to love God and others, free from the power of Sin and evil, the way out is to follow Jesus. To throw your lot in with him, to be joined to him in his death, that is saying “I want my old life to die” so that you can share in his new life.

Many of us have tasted that new life, and Paul in Romans gives us a warning. Jesus has set us free for a new life. But not free to be selfish, vengeful, fearful, Not free to do whatever we feel like. That isn’r freedom. That would be to fall back into slavery to sin. That wouldbe to walk back into the prison cell that Jesus just freed us from.
No we are free to offer ourselves to God, freed to love him and our neighbours, freed so that we no longer fear death, freed from guilt.
So lets today celebrate the freedom Jesus won for us by his death on the cross,

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