Good Friday Homily
April 9, 2004

This was delivered at a joint Trinity-Christ Church Good Friday Service, April 9 2004.

1 Corinthians 2:8-9:
We speak God?s wisdom among you in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age had understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Who died on the cross on the first Good Friday? All the Christological heresies of the early church arose from false answers to that question. Arius contemplated the man writhing and bleeding and crying out and suffocating on the Roman cross, and asked, Can this be the Creator of heaven and earth? Nestorians were more offended by the idea that God could be born as a baby, but they too raised questions about the cross: Surely, they said, only the human nature of Jesus was born of Mary; only the human nature of Jesus suffered and died. Like the rulers of this age, the church herself has often had difficulty believing that the one crucified was the ?Lord of glory.?E

Incredibly, through the guidance of the Spirit, the church endured all the attacks of the heretics and clung to the offense of the cross. Offensive as it was to all reason and apparent wisdom, impossible as it sounded, the church confessed that the Romans had crucified the Lord of glory. They confessed faith in ?Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.?E The Nicene confession was even more emphatic: ?I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate for us by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and was buried.?E

Throughout these long sentences, there is only one subject: ?Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son our Lord.?E There is no shift from what ?God the Son?Edid to what ?Jesus the man?Edid. Everything that happened to Jesus happened to the Incarnate Son of God; and everything that Jesus did God the Son did.

These creedal statements have guided the church?s reading of the gospels. We are not, the early fathers argued, to go through the gospels dividing Jesus?Estory into the ?God parts?Eand the ?man parts.?E The one Person of the incarnate Son was baptized by John in the Jordan, and fasted forty days in the wilderness; the Lord of glory healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead; the Lord of glory ate at the same table with tax gatherers and sinners, and touched lepers; the Lord of glory rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and cast out the moneychangers from the temple; the Lord of glory broke bread with His disciples in the upper room, and agonized in prayer in Gethsemane; the Lord of glory was arrested and beaten, and put on trial. It was the same Lord of glory who hung on the cross.

We often think that Jesus?Edeath on the cross somehow weakens His sovereignty. God the Son is, with the Father and Spirit, the sovereign Lord, Creator and ruler of all things; He can do all that He pleases, and everything is in His hand. But, we think, in spite of that, He is also the One who was weak, suffered and died. The death of the Son of God somehow contradicts His Lordship.

Paul knew no such tension: in one breath he is talking about predestination and in the next he is talking about the cross; the rulers of this age crucified the Lord of glory. Nor did the Nicene Fathers see any contradiction: in the same sentence, they affirmed that the Son was Creator of all things visible and invisible and also that the Son died on the cross.

Jesus?Edeath does not cancel or contradict His sovereignty. It is a revelation of that sovereignty. Jesus?Elife and death reveals that God is Lord not only over all things; He is Lord in all things. He is not only Lord over the safe confines of heaven, but Lord in the rough and tumble of Roman and Jewish politics; not only Lord over galaxies, but Lord in the world of hunger and thirst; not only the Lord over nations, but the Lord in suffering, injustice, and pain; not only the Lord over life, but also the Lord and tamer in death. No human experience is closed to God; we cannot put a sign outside any area of human life that says ?God has no business here,?E?God may not enter.?E We may try to set up obstacles and roadblocks, but the Lord bursts in regardless.

The cross is not a contradiction of God?s Lordship, but its most dramatic expression and revelation. He is the Lord even in the place that is most opposed to Him, and He exercises this Lordship for us. He is the Lord of light in the midst of darkness, accepting our darkness so that He can transform our nighttime into day; He is Lord of laughter in the midst of tears, crying out in agony so that He could change our mourning into dancing; He is the Lord of glory in the depths of His shame, submitting to shame so that we can be transfigured from glory to glory; He is Lord of life even in death, absorbing the death that is due to us so that death will have no dominion over us.

?They crucified the Lord of glory.?E This has often been an offense and a scandal. Paul exhorts us instead to make it a boast: Let him who boasts, boast in this Lord, the Lord of glory, the crucified Lord of glory.

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