Strength to be Passive (Good Friday Noonday 2013)

Good Friday Noon 2013

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Rocklin, California

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn

John 19:16

TITLE: “Strength to be Passive”

In the name of Jesus. Amen. Our text is John 19:16, ”So he delivered him over to be crucified.”

It is perhaps the strangest thing, to look at the passivity of God when it comes to our Lord’s death for our salvation.

How is it that the Lord of Life and God of our salvation can sit quietly by, with such sorrow and pain and abuse heaped upon Him? That is our question today. I will call this the passive strength of God.

There are really two kinds of strengths in the world. The first is the strength to do, to act and to get things done as they need to get done. This is the strength the world most easily recognizes. And it is real. The conviction to act in the face of opposition and hardship is real. Certainly God has this strength. Thing of the great “Gospel in a nutshell” verse,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s love moves Him to action in sending His son. This is active strength, and it is what we usually think about when we talk about strength.

But there is another kind of strength. It is quieter and more subtle. It is easy to overlook. It is the strength and conviction NOT TO ACT when that would be the easiest to do.

Imagine, if you can, having the power of the whole universe at your fingertips and choosing not to use it. “If you are the Son of God save yourselves and us!” “He saved others, Himself he cannot save.”

What strength did our Lord demonstrate on the cross! What would move Him to act in such a way? He could come down from the cross. He could destroy all those who sought His destruction. Do you remember when He was in the garden and Peter cut off the servant of the high priest’s ear?

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”” (John 18:10–11 ESV)

He had the ability, but He chose instead to say no. He received the abuse and did not return in kind. Our Lord had the strength and the faith to say AMEN to this whole thing. Perhaps our hymn puts it best:

“Yes, Father, yes, most willingly I’ll bear what You command Me. My will conforms to Your decree, I’ll do what you have asked me.” (LSB 438:3a)

So why would Jesus act this way? Why would He show this amazing, passive strength? In a word, love. Only love makes sense of this, if it can even be called sense. Only love would move Him to stay on the cross and have such pain and hardship heaped upon Him.

You and me, we do not possess such love. Not by nature, that’s for sure. You cannot resist a cookie or a drink or whatever you addiction may be. You cannot, but He does for you. That is love in action. Our Lord not only takes your punishment, but He resists the most base of temptations. He resists the temptation to live at the cost of His own life.

This day our Lord does the impossible for you. Today He dies so that you might live. Today He suffers so that you might rejoice. Today He loves because you cannot. Today He stays there on the cross so that you will never see such suffering. Far from it! He receives the abuse and scorn and condemnation so that at the end of your life, you will hear from God, ”Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Believe that when our Lord is on the cross He does so for you. Trust that God Himself, who is love incarnate, will carry you in His bosom to life everlasting. Jesus receives the pain and death, because He receives sinners such as you.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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