Midweek Lent 5: Vindication

Lessons: Psalm 41, Jeremiah 9:12-16, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Matthew 26:1-5
Hymns: LSB 452, 434, 451

Listen to the entire service here (the sermon alone is above).

       Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

      Jesus said in Psalm 41:7-8, “All who hate Me whisper together about Me; they imagine the worst for Me. They say, ‘A deadly thing is poured out on Him; He will not rise again from where He lies.’” Remember, King David wrote these words prophetically of what Jesus would pray during His passion. And tonight, we hear the fulfillment of this passage as we heard the final portion of the Passion of our Lord as drawn from the four Gospels. Even after they nailed Jesus to the cross, our Lord’s enemies still could not keep their mouths shut.

      They couldn’t help themselves but murmur, whisper, and even shout against the Christ the Lord’s anointed. They argued against Pontius Pilate, saying, “Your sign is wrong. He is not Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Instead, He said He is the King of the Jews.” People stood by watching and deriding Him, wagging their heads, saying, “You who would destroy the Temple and build it in three days, save Yourself. If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” The chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him, saying, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let Him come down now from the cross. He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him.” The soldiers mocked Him, saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” Even the thieves being crucified with Him reviled Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”

      They all thought they got what they wanted when Jesus breathed His last. They wanted Him dead. Despite the victory they sought as He breathed His last and gave up His spirit, worry was welling up in them. The centurion said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.” Calling Jesus an imposter, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate on the Sabbath and said, “Sir, we remember what that imposter said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore, command that the stone closing the entrance to the tomb be made secure so that His disciples won’t steal His Body and claim He has risen from the dead. We don’t want His lies to continue even after His death.” They wanted to make sure Jesus could not rise again from where He lay. They did not want anyone to stage a resurrection or give any hope to anyone that Jesus could be alive. And should He rise, they wanted to make sure He wasn’t getting out of that tomb.

      But dead means dead, doesn’t it? Why the worry? Could it be that they recognized His Word had power and that He said He would rise on the third day? Could it be because Lazarus once was dead and now lives? Could it be due to the darkness that covered the earth for three hours? Could it be from the earthquake when our Lord died, tearing the Temple curtain in two? Could it be from the bodies of those who died were now living and walking? Or could it be that they knew they were the imposters, and He truly is the Messiah?

      There was too much testimony against them and their actions. Yet, they were so willing to dig in their heels, even saying, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

      My friends, do not be surprised if you suffer on account of your Christian faith. Our modern world is getting increasingly hostile to the Christian faith and Christian values. More and more Americans are getting angry at what Christians truly stand for. While we have the Bill of Rights to prevent the government from interfering with us as we gather for worship, this does not necessarily stop those who hate us. Remember the words of Scripture, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:12-14).

      If Christ suffered, so will we. It is written, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12-13).

      And remember that Jesus’ life did not end in defeat. He told the repentant thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” When Jesus descended into Hell, He proclaimed His victory. Then on third day, an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and rolled the tomb stone away, causing a great earthquake (Matt. 28:1-3). Jesus rose victoriously from the dead. The old enemies of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature had been defeated. The enemies who thought they could do away with Jesus by killing Him and sealing His body up in the grave were proven to be wrong. Yes, a deadly thing was poured out on Him. But He rose from where He lay. He did not just rise in spirit; He rose bodily.

      The first comfort in our Lord’s resurrection is relief from suffering. He is the Victor and He will bring us to Himself in Paradise. He carries our suffering, our burdens, and our crosses upon Himself. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

      The second comfort in our Lord’s resurrection is vindication. Vindication is when all wrongs get made right. Vindication happens when those who suffer losses get their losses returned to them.

      At the cross on Good Friday, Jesus is glorified. At His resurrection on Easter, Jesus is vindicated.

      While those who hated Jesus imagined the worst for Him, Jesus is vindicated in His resurrection. All is set right with Him. God the Father “crowned Him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:7).

      And because Jesus was vindicated in His resurrection, you shall be too. Just as Jesus lives, so shall you. All those injustices against you by those who hate you and your Christian faith? Jesus will set it aright.

      Even death will have no power over you. Jesus lives and reigns. He will come back and raise all the dead. He will grant to you and all believers in Christ eternal life. That is your hope, your confidence, and your delight.

      The Lamb who was slain lives. He earned for you the forgiveness of all your sins through His death. He earned for you life and vindication through His resurrection. Amen.            

      The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen