Jn. 19:26-27    Mt. 26:1-25
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


    “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”


    Is this not incredible? Our Lord Jesus is hanging on the cross, hands and feet pierced, beaten and abused beyond our comprehension. We cannot sympathize with Him, we cannot even empathize with Him. Even if we knew and understood the physical pain inflicted upon Him, He is in the midst of bearing our sins. He is being damned by the Father, bearing the full curse of sin and all its consequences. There He is in naked shame, and where is His care and concern? It is directed at poor miserable sinners, the ones responsible for His current predicament, one of whom is His own mother.


Even she, the most highly favored Lady, the blessed virgin who bore our Lord, is a sinner and responsible for the death ofher son. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3) and yet “upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” (Is 53) Whether at that moment Mary understood why her dear son was dying is not clear. Yet all the same her soul was pierced as she watched, as was foretold by Simeon. This Perfect Son, who had broken no law, is punished as a murder and traitor. He receives due justice in His body, the justice that was deserved by Mary, the justice that we deserve. Yet even here on the cross, in the midst of judgment, the Son of God is perfectly obedient to the Law. Even here, He honors His mother, “Woman behold your son.”

SERMON FOR LENT 1 MIDWEEK SERVICE, 3-12-2014
Jn. 19:26-27    Mt. 26:1-25
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


    “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”


    Is this not incredible? Our Lord Jesus is hanging on the cross, hands and feet pierced, beaten and abused beyond our comprehension. We cannot sympathize with Him, we cannot even empathize with Him. Even if we knew and understood the physical pain inflicted upon Him, He is in the midst of bearing our sins. He is being damned by the Father, bearing the full curse of sin and all its consequences. There He is in naked shame, and where is His care and concern? It is directed at poor miserable sinners, the ones responsible for His current predicament, one of whom is His own mother.


Even she, the most highly favored Lady, the blessed virgin who bore our Lord, is a sinner and responsible for the death ofher son. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3) and yet “upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace.” (Is 53) Whether at that moment Mary understood why her dear son was dying is not clear. Yet all the same her soul was pierced as she watched, as was foretold by Simeon. This Perfect Son, who had broken no law, is punished as a murder and traitor. He receives due justice in His body, the justice that was deserved by Mary, the justice that we deserve. Yet even here on the cross, in the midst of judgment, the Son of God is perfectly obedient to the Law. Even here, He honors His mother, “Woman behold your son.”


“Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ex. 20) This is the first commandment with a promise attached to it, and the command to give honor demonstrates just how high an office, a vocation, parents have. It is a greater thing to honor someone than to love them, for honor demands love as well as respect, humility, and deference. God has placed parents in special position. They are to bring up children in the fear of the Lord, to be the means by which He provides, even to be models of what He is like by His very nature, a Father to us all through Christ. According to Luther, it is one of the highest vocations and offices that one can be called to. Thus, honoring our parents is one of the finest good works we can do, greater than anything we might make up that seems outwardly righteous.


As parents fulfill their godly role, the promise attached to the command can be realized by obedient children. In a small example, chores serve to train us in proper living. A simple task like washing the dishes, or taking out the garbage, can have drastic consequences when not done. The filth piled up can cause health problems while also hurting our relationships with other people. If this minor thing can have such a lasting impact, what then can be said about disobedience in larger things? There also is the reality that God loves the righteous and promises to bless them, though how these blessings might be realized in our life is never guaranteed. But what about Jesus? What happened to the promise attached to the command for Him? Is He not the most obedient Son? Does God not love the perfect Righteous One? Where are His blessings?


Dear Christians, even as Jesus honors His mother, He is honoring His Father with His very life. The will of the Father is that Jesus bear the sins of the whole world, and Christ obeys. It is absolutely necessary for our sake that the promise attached to the command not be realized by Christ as we would see fit. He does not live long on the earth as we would measure it, but then again He does not measure life as we do. Though the Pharisees may have long lives with many comforts and pleasures, our Lord calls them whitewashed tombs. They are dead men walking. But to the thief that repents, He proclaims life! For the Christian, it is not by material gifts that we know God loves us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” It is His gift of forgiveness and peace in Jesus by which we know His love for us. If this is how Christ measures life, then He has received the promise attached to the command in a much greater way!


For God has testified to the perfect obedience of Christ by raising Him from the dead. Jesus does not live long in the land of those who will die, He lives eternally in the land of those that shall never die. He has been blessed by the Father with all authority, having been declared worthy to sit in the throne at the right hand of His Father. The satisfaction He made for us is complete, totally destroying the curse of death and damnation that was upon each of us.


Jesus honors His mother in a very earthy way: He provides for her a home and sustenance through the disciple whom He loved. The cares and concerns of this life that each of us feel are known to Him, and He provides for us in many and various ways. But He also honors her by serving her, providing what she could not. She could not provide the payment necessary to cover her sin before God, and neither can we. But Christ can provide and did so by His holy, precious blood and innocent suffering and death. Just as He provides our earthly needs in various ways, He also gives you this spiritual necessity in various ways. He comes to you through the Word and the means of grace, serving you and feeding you. He is now interceding for you saying, “Father, behold your child” even as He tells you “behold, your Father” as you pray “our Father who art in heaven.” He comes to give you the very blessing He received from the promise attached to the commandment, a greater blessing than we imagined. He comes to give you life in the midst of death, the comfort of eternity in the midst of all who are perishing. His reward is yours because you are His. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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