Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, Bountiful, Utah
IN NOMINE JESU
We heard these words read just a few moments ago in the Passion reading. It was Maundy Thursday evening. Jesus had just instituted His Supper (the same Supper He fed us this past Sunday and will feed us again this coming Sunday). He then proceeded to wash His disciples’ feet as a model for His disciples to follow, that they would love one another, loving their people with that same humble service that Jesus rendered to them. Then Judas, the disciple whom Satan entered, left to find an opportunity to betray Jesus. After this, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him” (v. 31). This doesn’t make sense to our ears, does it? Jesus was about to be betrayed, and He knew it. He knew what would happen to Him in a matter of hours. He knew that in a matter of hours He would be dead. Yes! Jesus knew that He would soon die, and that’s why He said He was glorified and that His Father would be glorified in Him. The glory would be Theirs because the will of the Father and of the Son was one and the same: Jesus would set aside His glory and come down to earth, hidden in human form, and die on the cross to take away the sin of the world.
Jesus would be glorified in His death by being lifted up on the cross, that the world would, even if it refused to believe, watch Him die for all people. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:14-15), and again, to the unbelieving Jews, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him” (8:28-29), and again on Palm Sunday, “‘Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (12:31-33). This is Jesus’ Lenten Gloria in Excelsis. At His birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Lk. 2:14). We join our voices with the angels (except during Advent and Lent) to glorify God for the birth of Jesus, the Holy One of God born in human flesh. What makes this birth so special is that He was born for one purpose; Jesus was born so that He would die to take away the sin of the world. That’s why Jesus speaks of His Passion as His glory. Jesus was glorified when He was lifted up on the cross. He was lifted up. He was glorified. He was exalted. Glory be to God on high, lifted high upon the cross, where He did what we cannot do.
Jesus died to atone for our sins. We can’t do that. We can only die because of our sins. We can only die in our sins. Unlike Jesus, who is holy and was born holy, we are neither of these things. We’re not holy. We weren’t born holy. As King David confessed about himself, as we heard on Ash Wednesday (one week ago), we also confess about ourselves: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). We were all conceived and born in the sin our parents also inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve, whose sin we heard this past Sunday. We have no glory in and of ourselves. We have only sin, death, and condemnation. We cover it up, as Adam and Eve tried to do, and we seek to justify ourselves…we seek to glorify ourselves. We become our own gods; we’re self-idolatrous. We’re no better than Judas, whom Satan entered. Judas became his own god, and when he left the upper room, it was night—both outside and within Judas’s soul. But after Jesus was arrested, Judas was filled with remorse—but not repentance. He didn’t turn to the One whom he betrayed for perfect and total forgiveness, forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Himself. Judas would soon commit suicide, dying in his sin and going “to his own place” (Acts 1:25), that is, hell. His end was not glory but gory. From this end we need to be spared; we need to confess our sins.
When we confess our sins, we appeal to Christ’s glory. What does this mean? As you confess your sins, you implore God to forgive you for Jesus’ sake. When God looks at you, He sees His Son’s blood covering you; He sees that Jesus died on the cross to take away your sins. God has forgiven you for the Jesus’ sake. You have a share in Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and hell. You have a share in Jesus’ glory because by His resurrection you have a share in His inheritance, the promise of eternal life in heaven. Your glory is in the empty cross and tomb because Jesus is no longer in either place, for He died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins and rose from the tomb to give you eternal life! It is in this Good-Friday-and-Easter Jesus that you boast, in whom you glory. St. Paul says, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:14-15 KJV). And because Christ is risen from the dead, you are a new creature, made new in the new life given you in His resurrection. Paul also writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). He makes you Easter-new in Holy Baptism, “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5b-7). He makes you Easter-new in His Maundy-Thursday body and blood, getting you ready to see your Lord and Savior in heaven and in all His glory, as He forgives your sins and strengthens your faith in Him, that He would lift you up on the Last Day and that you would glory in Him forever. As we sing in the great hymn: “O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. …Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.”
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
SOLI DEO GLORIA
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