|Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2019||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 7, Year C||June 2, 2019||The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 97, Acts 16:16-34, John 17:20-26|
|Easter 6, Year C||May 26, 2019||Easter 6, Year C||John 14:23-29|
|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|➤Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
Good Friday, 2019
Sermon Date:April 19, 2019
Scripture: John 18:1-19:42
Liturgy Calendar: Good Friday
Before I begin, I want to remind you that when we hear about “the Jews” in the gospel according to John, John is referring to the Jewish authorities and the corrupt leaders who are in cahoots with the Romans, not to the Jewish people themselves. For two thousand years, Jews have been wrongly persecuted and terrible atrocities have been carried out against them because of the misunderstanding that they, as a people, were responsible for the death of Jesus. So please keep this fact in mind, lest we be guilty of perpetuating this misunderstanding.
After the death of Jesus on the cross, “Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus.”
And Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jews, who had first come to Jesus by night, because he too was scared to be seen with Jesus, is also a secret disciple, but now he goes with Joseph to take down Jesus’ body and to bury it. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds, much more than is needed for any burial, showing the great love that Nicodemus must have had for Jesus at this point.
Both Joseph and Nicodemus were secret disciples who believed in Jesus but had hesitancy about letting anyone see or know that they were disciples.
But now, both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, these secret disciples, have witnessed Jesus being crucified.
They have heard him say, “It is finished.”
They have seen Jesus bow his head and give up his spirit.
They have seen the soldier pierce Jesus’ side with a spear, and water and blood come pouring out.
Nicodemus must have remembered that conversation he and Jesus had in secrecy that night, because Nicodemus was too scared to be seen with Jesus during the day—when Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
Nicodemus must have remembered now, with a shock, what Jesus had meant when he said to Nicodemus, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
Now Nicodemus has seen with his own eyes Jesus lifted high on a cross.
Now Nicodemus has seen water pour from the side of Jesus, who said to the Samaritan woman, “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
Living water, and Nicodemus can feel a spring of water gushing up to eternal life in him. He has seen God’s love poured out for him with his own eyes.
And now, because of the love he has seen, because of the new life that he has felt gushing up in himself as he has witnessed the death of Jesus, Nicodemus can no longer be a secret disciple.
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council who listened to the testimony of Jesus, and who did have the nerve to speak up for Jesus, has now decided that all the secrecy on his part is finished. He goes to Pilate himself to ask for the body of Jesus. Joseph can no longer be a secret disciple.
So in front of everyone, these two disciples take down the body of Jesus. These two disciples wrap the body in the spices and linen cloths, carefully and lovingly. They no longer care who sees them carry out these acts of love. These two then lay Jesus in a garden tomb, a new tomb. They are no longer fearful or ashamed and the whole world can now see the deep love they have for Jesus in the way that they have cared for his body.
They are no longer secret disciples.
To be a secret disciple of Jesus is tempting.
When we are secret disciples, we inwardly love Jesus and follow him, but only in ways that we don’t invite the ridicule of others, or put ourselves at risk.
But being a secret disciple means also that we haven’t yet allowed ourselves to fully embrace the immensities of God’s love.
Out of God’s immense love for us, God sent God’s only Son to live with us, to suffer with us, and to hand over his life in love to God for us—so that we are able to see with our own eyes and feel in the depths of our beings that God loves us not only in this lifetime, but beyond the grave, and throughout eternity.
We weren’t there at the crucifixion. But we know that through Jesus, we have been reborn by water and the Spirit. We know that Jesus is living water, and the bread of life, and the light of the world.
The crucifixion is the greatest symbol of Jesus’ love—to hand over the most precious thing he had, his own life, for us.
So tonight, I invite you to behold this man, as Joseph and Nicodemus did, to behold him lifted high, his arms of love stretched wide on the hard wood of the cross, so that everyone might come within the reach of his saving embrace.
And out of gratitude, get up your nerve! Give up being a disciple in secret.
Out of gratitude, like Joseph and Nicodemus, risk everything now and let the whole world see and know that you are a disciple of Jesus, by reaching out your hands in love, offering the same graceful and sacrificial love that Jesus has given to you,
so that new life can spring up out of death.
Let’s live in such a way that the world can see Jesus living in and through us in the ways in which we love one another, with God’s graceful and sacrificial and life giving love,
To show our love publicly and reverently for our Lord and Savior, as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea finally did.