Good Friday—Chief Service 2017 (Heb 4:14–16; 5:7–9)

April 14, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO


((5. Oops!: Do you struggle with sin?))

Do you struggle with sin? Are there sins that you just can’t beat? It’s like they sneak up on you, right? You think you’ve got them licked, and then they happen…again. Like, without even knowing how or why, you’re on the other side again. “How did I end up here, again?” you say.

But most of the time, we only give lip service to being sinners. Now, none of us would be so bold as to say we aren’t sinners. But we separate “sinner” from “the sin” so much that it’s almost impossible to think of actual sins we’ve done.

After all, we’re getting better, right? Isn’t that supposed to be what happens? You get enough grace—some nice God energy from the Spirit, or whatever—and then you are charged up enough, and you will conquer your sins. Put in enough time at the gym, put in enough sweat and hard work, you’ll meet whatever milestone you’ve set for yourself. So, we turn Christianity into some sort of spiritual gym.

We’re afraid to admit the truth. It’s like we’re afraid to be caught as sinners. We think that if we do enough sins or really bad ones, then we’ll be labeled as a sinner. The problem is: that’s backwards. Sinning doesn’t make you sinner. You’re already a sinner, and that’s why you sin.

You can’t overcome your sins with enough hard work like they’re bad habits. When you hate your sins, your real sins, because you’re not just sinner. In Jesus, you’re also saint, and that’s what makes you hate what you do. The sinner makes you want to hide in shame, makes you not want to admit the truth.

((4. Ugh!: Maybe you don’t, but you should!))

Or, maybe you don’t struggle with sins, but that hardly seems possible in this life. If you’re not up to your neck in sins, and you’re pretty good, and just need a little help along the way, well then, why did God have to die? God, the eternal God, who created everything, determined that the only solution for your sins was His own death.

But you should struggle against them. Only someone without faith wouldn’t struggle: either against them or weep and mourn under the weight of them. We shouldn’t let our flesh, the devil, or the world dictate the priorities of our life.

We shouldn’t be giving up things like soda or candy, but we should be daily giving up our sins: no more gossip, grudges, or greed; no more forgetting to pray, worship, or be in the Word; no more hatred, no more tweaking the numbers so you come out ahead; no more putting yourself before your neighbor or before God.

But here’s the thing: your struggling against sin doesn’t make you a Christian. Christianity isn’t about reaching perfection. A Christian isn’t a person who will eventually “keep and fulfill God’s Law perfectly in this life.” (EP XII.25) Our righteousness has nothing to do with our “renewal” or our “own godliness in which we walk.” (EP XII.5)


So, what’s to be done? What’s to be done with you and your sins?

Well, for those who don’t mourn under the weight of their sins and their sinfulness, today is meaningless, it’s pointless. If humanity is basically good, with just a few flaws (bad habits really), then God didn’t need to die. If that’s the solution, how bad’s the problem?

But for you, dear Christian, burdened by your sins, struggling with the skeletons in your closet, still carryings the baggage of your past, worried about your future (your eternal future), worried about people finding out the truth, worried about what God would say (You can’t hide it from Him, though; He knows), not having the stomach for the truth out shame and worry—you, dear Christian, be of good cheer.

You don’t “have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with [your] weaknesses.” No, He knows the temptation, yet He’s without sin. Thanks be to God the Father for that!


He’s the Priest and Sacrifice. Cross. Blood. “It is finished!” Death. Tomb. “Being made perfect,” being complete, being fished, “He became the source of eternal salvation to all who hear Him.”

((2. Whee!: That means sinners get the goods.))

It’s not just for people who put forth the good effort. There’s no “God helps those who help themselves.” No “do your best and God will do the rest.” No, God has done it all. Real sinners, with real sins, have a real flesh and blood Savior. Sinners get the goods! He knows, and He dies. He knows, and He forgives. The Son willingly came, took on your sin, bled for it, died for it. He willingly did it all FOR YOU.

That’s Christianity: That God was “crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,” that “He suffered and was buried.” And all “for us men and for our salvation.” That’s the “confession” we hold fast to. Jesus took care of sin because He’s the Friend of sinners. If you’re a sinner, then He’s your Savior. But to those who claim otherwise, He’s absent. If you feel that in your sins, He’s abandoned you, He’s there with you. He can’t abandon those He’s saving. Rejoice! If you’re sick, then He is your Physician.

((1. Yeah!: We drink from the source.))

And your High Priest Jesus, the High Priest and Salvation of sinners, delivers to you His medicine. Because you are always sick, you always need His medicine. Jesus is the source of it: the medicine is forgiveness, salvation. So it comes to you. We receive from the Source: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Water in the Font. Blood in the Chalice. Washed and fed the medicine of immortality—“body and blood, given and shed for you,” dear Christian, “for the forgiveness of sins.”

Come boldly to Him. Yes, the truth is: you’re a sinner. He knows. He died for you. He took that sin. Took it long before you were born. That’s mercy. That’s love. That’s the sort of High Priest and Savior you have. He’s the source not of a temporary salvation or a salvation you need to secure for yourself. No, it’s eternal salvation for sinners. “It is finished!” So says your High Priest and Salvation, Jesus.


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