Sermon transcript, 29 March 2015, Sunday of the Passion
Appearances can be deceiving by Fr. Dana
The message today isn’t going to be terribly long, because I think God can speak quite adequately through His Word.
Father, we lift up Jesus to You: we ask that You would make us present with Him as we recall His death, that You would give us hearts to follow in His faithfulness and in His footsteps by the power of the Holy Spirit; in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Don’t take your theology and your doctrine from this message: that’s not what we’re doing today. I ask that God would help you to understand what that day was like.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus has just finished praying.
[Looking through the eyes of the disciples.]
Jesus, why are You doing this? The wind and the sea obey You; legions of demons obey You. The crowd shouted “Hosanna!” as You rode into Jerusalem. You can change the world; You can make it right. You can defeat the invader; You can restore the Kingdom. You’ve healed the sick; my God, You’ve raised the dead! Why are You doing this?
We are ready to fight for You; we are ready to give our lives for You… but not like this! Not by giving up, not by meekly submitting to arrest. You control the elements: control this situation! Take command! Bend the world to Your will. Whatever You ask in Your own name, the Father will do: ask it! Don’t let them take You! Fight back! Strike!
In the courtyard of Pilate, Jesus is put on trial.
Why is it taking so long? What is He doing in there? He shut the mouths of the Scribes and Pharisees with a single sentence: He could easily have defeated the lies by now.
What? No, I do not know the man. I thought I did; we all thought we did. We believed He was the Lion of Judah, but now He’s as silent as a mouse. We would have followed him to the very throne of Caesar, but He won’t even stand up to Pilate.
I said, I do not know the man. It is one thing for Him to sleep through the storm; now He sleeps through the final battle: the battle we must win, or all is lost. Three years gathering the people, three years building a reputation, three years wielding the power of God. Ah! And now when it matters most – nothing. No miracles, no thunder and lightning, no resistance; not even a word.
Good God in heaven, I do not know the man… – Uh? Oh no! What I have done? Forgive me, Jesus. What have I done?
On the hill of Golgotha, Jesus is crucified
What is this? How has this happened? Even the Father has forsaken Him. I knew it was wrong.
It is over. We are done. All is lost. Hope is gone. We trusted You. We expected deliverance, but there is none to deliver us.
We have wasted our time: three years. We have accomplished nothing. Yes, a few people were healed, many were fed, but where are they now? They are like sheep, scattered by wolves.
No, they have become wolves. They, the same ones who said “Hosanna”, demanded You be crucified. What folly! Evil still reigns.
He is dead. It is finished. Evil has won.
God’s purpose was accomplished
To everyone present it did appear that evil had won, evil had triumphed. But appearances can be deceiving. The prophet Isaiah who gave a number of prophecies concerning Messiah also said this: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Jesus Christ is the Word; He is the Word made flesh. He came from heaven and watered the earth for a time, but He did not return to the Father, He did not return to heaven, until He had accomplished all that the Father desired, until He fulfilled the very thing for which He was sent to earth.
He told the disciples in John 12:24, “Most assuredly [in some versions, “Truly, truly”], I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” May we go and do likewise.