Hosea 6:1-6
Revelation 3:14-22
Mark 15:21-32
What Law Hast Thou Broken?

Dear fellow redeemed children of Christ the Crucified,

Our Lord Jesus sent a letter to His congregation at Laodicea through the apostle John, calling the saints there wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17). They probably did not realize that they were such. You may not realize it, but this letter was written for you, too.  How can Jesus send a letter of such bitter condemnation to His children? How can saints, the word for holy ones, be wretched and pitiable?

Well Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. Jesus said, “I know your works: you are neither cold not hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16) I think we can relate to this aggravation of Jesus: on a hot summer day, a lukewarm cup of water is the last thing that will refresh you. In the dead of winter, with the chilly wind blowing, a tepid or semi-cold piece of meat or vegetable is certainly not your first choice.

 

Hosea 6:1-6
Revelation 3:14-22
Mark 15:21-32
What Law Hast Thou Broken?

Dear fellow redeemed children of Christ the Crucified,

Our Lord Jesus sent a letter to His congregation at Laodicea through the apostle John, calling the saints there wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17). They probably did not realize that they were such. You may not realize it, but this letter was written for you, too.  How can Jesus send a letter of such bitter condemnation to His children? How can saints, the word for holy ones, be wretched and pitiable?

Well Jesus knows you better than you know yourself. Jesus said, “I know your works: you are neither cold not hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16) I think we can relate to this aggravation of Jesus: on a hot summer day, a lukewarm cup of water is the last thing that will refresh you. In the dead of winter, with the chilly wind blowing, a tepid or semi-cold piece of meat or vegetable is certainly not your first choice.

Jesus takes your sins of pride and apathy very seriously. While you go about your daily business, concerned firstly with your schedule and earthly goods, you have neglected your greatest need, which is repentance. Now, this is not to preach to the choir; you have come today to receive the gifts of salvation from Jesus. But remember that Jesus spoke these words of reproof and discipline to those in the church whom He loves.

Jesus always speaks frankly and honestly with those whom He loves; and He loves you. Jesus spoke to His children from Israel and Judah through His prophet Hosea. He said, “What shall I do with you? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away…I desire love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hos. 6:4, 6)Jesus does not desire half-hearted worship! He does not want you to go through the motions of faith without truly believing His will and doing it.

Our sins – all of them – the whole long laundry list of things we’ve said and thought and done to ourselves and to each other – that is why Jesus hung on the cross at this hour on the Friday that is called Good Friday, the most important Friday ever. Our apathy, our lukewarm love for God, our selfish thoughts, and our tongues that lash out at others are the reasons for Jesus’ painful death.

When you look depictions of the cross of Jesus, you often see a charge inscribed on a note above His head. The letters inscribed are “INRI.” These letters, in Latin, stand for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” This was the charge. This was the final judgment against Jesus and the grounds for His execution. He was a king – but not a king of this world. And neither the Jews nor the Romans would accept Him as their king.

But why did they have to execute Him? Jesus did not start a violent uprising against the Romans that had to be quashed with bloodshed. He did not blaspheme the God of the Jews, for He Himself is the God of the Jews and of all people. So Jesus was innocent. That is why we sing this question, “O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken?”

The answer is that Jesus has broken no law. He perfectly upheld the Commandments. He taught submission to authorities unless they transgress the higher Law. He had no crime for which to make confession. Therefore, Jesus died for the sins of others – for you – and for me.

The charge that was inscribed above Jesus’ head might as well have been a list of your sins, and mine, and the sins of humanity. There is no paper long enough; no amount of ink is adequate to list all the sins we’ve thought and done and spoken in our lifetimes. Yet the charge laid against Jesus includes the sins of every single person for all time! “It is my sins for which Thou, Lord, must languish; Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou dost inherit; this I do merit.”

“He saved others; he cannot save Himself,” the chief priests and elders mocked Jesus to one another, as if He wasn’t even there. The truth is that Jesus could have saved Himself, but He stayed on the cross willingly so that He could save others. Jesus bore your sins in His body along with the sins of the whole world. “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”

That Jesus was a true man means He suffered so much on Good Friday it is hard to even imagine. The passerby’s intense humiliation and taunting, the spitting and scourging and mocking of the soldiers and the cruel blasphemy of the priests and elders must have been unbearable. The nails driven through His flesh and bones – the exhaustion from the scourging – the agony of hanging on the cross – Jesus bears it all for you.

But the spiritual suffering was far worse. You have experienced moments of guilt and shame over something wrong that you’ve done. Picture the guilt of an entire lifetime of sin. It’s impossible to do! And then to add to that the sins of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived; Jesus bore it all in His body. The weight of sin crushed Him, and His death paid the debt for all our sins.

Here is a King who comes into His Kingdom when He is executed in shame in front of everyone. Here is a King who has committed no crime, and yet dies to pay the death sentence for all His subjects. Here is a King, not only of the Jews or of Israel, but of you and me and all nations, a king who lays down His life so that we don’t have to die for our sins.

“Do we pass that cross unheeding, breathing no repentant vow? Though we see you wounded, bleeding, see your thorn encircled brow?” This is what Jesus condemns through His prophets and apostles – that we see and hear about Jesus’ sacrificial death for us but then go on living our lives as if it never happened. You weren’t one of the original mockers or crucifiers, but see your sins written in the charge above Jesus’ head on His cross! He had no sin, but He bore your sins in His death.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rm. 6:1-2) “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” (Hos. 6:1-2)

God has indeed struck you down with the letter of His Law, but He binds you up with the death of Jesus Christ. Although you are torn by sins and afflictions, you are made whole and clean and you are comforted by the Passion of Jesus in your place. He will certainly raise us up on the third day, because He did not let His holy one see corruption in the grave (Ps. 16:10), and neither will He let you see corruption by remaining in sin!

Jesus died to take away all of your sins, to feed you the life-giving medicine of His forgiveness, and to show you the path of eternal life by faith in His promises. Your apathy and lukewarm attitude toward His mercy is no more; He has died for you. Your primary concern for things of this world has given way to the everlasting mercy of God, which is in plain sight as He died for you on the cross. The long laundry list of your sins is burned with the sacrifice, and the ashes are buried with the Lamb, never to be seen again.

Jesus does not leave you simply with the remembrance of His death as the means for daily sin removal. He gives you a concrete, visible sign of water poured and words spoken that join you to His death. You were put to death with Jesus when you were baptized, and since the grave could not hold Him, it can’t hold you either. Your life is now in the shape of a cross. You are finally free to suffer with Jesus and to rejoice in tribulation, knowing that you are worthy to suffer with your Savior on account of His love for you (Acts 5:41).

On this day of our Lord’s Passion and death, we repent of our lukewarm lives, and we give thanks for His eternal mercy. Christ takes all of your wounds and death so that He can bind you up and bring you to life. It is the greatest day of the year, truly a “Good” Friday, as God now looks at us through the blood of Jesus and sees again what He saw after creating humanity: “It is very good.” All is good! Jesus Christ has taken away your sins. Now go in peace.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a