Hosea 6:1-6    Hebrews 5:1-9    Luke 23:33-46
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


From Hosea- “I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”


From John- But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”


What is it that kills the one condemned to death? Is it the hand of the executioner? Is it the instrument that delivers the method of death? While it may be true to say that these effectively put the criminal to death, the authority to kill has come from a word, a declaration, guilty. Ultimately, it is the sentencing of the judge that is responsible; it is the very words that come from his mouth that kills.


“I have slain them by the words of my mouth.” Though spoken in reference to the people of Israel, it stands true for all people. You are dust, and to dust shall you return. This is not a mere comment on our state of being, that this life is transitory. It is a death sentence! You are on death row, the verdict from the most Righteous Judge has been declared on all the offspring of Adam. For what reason have you been declared guilty? You are an insurrectionist, just like your father and mother in the Garden. They sought knowledge so that they may be like God, that is, so that they could be God for themselves. The knowledge they thought they were receiving in the fruit would allow them to sit on the throne and rule without Him, supplanting His will for their own. And what of you, would you be the king of your castle instead of the steward of God’s gifts? Would you do it your way rather than follow the way set before you? You have Moses and the Prophets, even the words of Christ, the very Word Himself. You know the Law, there are no loopholes with this Judge, for neither a jot nor tittle shall be removed from the holy Law. Your plea of not guilty will not stand according to your merits. Denial will not stop the sentence from being carried out, your death will come.

Good Friday 1 PM 18 Apr 2014
Hosea 6:1-6    Hebrews 5:1-9    Luke 23:33-46
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


From Hosea- “I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”


From John- But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”


What is it that kills the one condemned to death? Is it the hand of the executioner? Is it the instrument that delivers the method of death? While it may be true to say that these effectively put the criminal to death, the authority to kill has come from a word, a declaration, guilty. Ultimately, it is the sentencing of the judge that is responsible; it is the very words that come from his mouth that kills.


“I have slain them by the words of my mouth.” Though spoken in reference to the people of Israel, it stands true for all people. You are dust, and to dust shall you return. This is not a mere comment on our state of being, that this life is transitory. It is a death sentence! You are on death row, the verdict from the most Righteous Judge has been declared on all the offspring of Adam. For what reason have you been declared guilty? You are an insurrectionist, just like your father and mother in the Garden. They sought knowledge so that they may be like God, that is, so that they could be God for themselves. The knowledge they thought they were receiving in the fruit would allow them to sit on the throne and rule without Him, supplanting His will for their own. And what of you, would you be the king of your castle instead of the steward of God’s gifts? Would you do it your way rather than follow the way set before you? You have Moses and the Prophets, even the words of Christ, the very Word Himself. You know the Law, there are no loopholes with this Judge, for neither a jot nor tittle shall be removed from the holy Law. Your plea of not guilty will not stand according to your merits. Denial will not stop the sentence from being carried out, your death will come.


“Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds.” Why do you not fear the Judge when you know you are guilty? Why do you not throw yourself on the mercy of the court rather than continue pretending that you are innocent? Truly, God is righteous for punishing our crimes in this way. He is just in slaying us by the words of His mouth. There is no defense that we could bring into His court that would be of benefit, no witness can testify on behalf of our actions. This man does not try to bargain with God, or offer any reason why he should receive clemency.


“And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” My sentencing was correct, but His is false! He should not be here with me! And yet He is beside me under the same condemnation of God, sentenced to death. And He is sentenced not just as a criminal, but even as an insurrectionist! What was the charge listed above the head of Christ? “This is the King of the Jews.”


“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” What faith! This is what God means when He says “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” This criminal has true knowledge of God in Christ, for from whom else would he ask for life after death, for part in an eternal kingdom. This Jesus has done nothing wrong because the charge is true, He is the King of the Jews. Even greater, He is the king of creation! He by right as the Son of God is due to receive the crown. But He is man, born of the virgin, and there is a verdict against all mankind for insurrection against God. He was the judge that uttered the verdict of death in the garden, and now He takes that punishment on Himself for all men. In His body Christ redeems all, bearing the chastisement that brings peace. By His death He purchases and wins us from sin, death, and the devil for His kingdom.


It is not sacrifice, burnt offerings, or any other works that appease the wrath of God. It is this once for all offering by God Himself on our behalf. This is why God desires steadfast love and true knowledge of Him, for the blood of bulls and goats, even our own sweat and blood, is nothing compared to the holy and precious blood of Jesus. This criminal on the cross saw by faith that Jesus was the source of grace that he needed. He does not bargain or anything of that nature at all. He simply says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” That is, I believe that you are truly God, for only God can be king in the end. I believe that even though you die you will live, since only the living may inherit. I believe that you will raise those that are dead, so I ask you to remember me, that is let me be present with you. Nothing do I claim as justification for your grace, I am condemned to death justly. According to your mercy and your merits remember me, Jesus, for you are the one that saves.


And he (Jesus) said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” That is to say, dear sinner, I, as the Messiah, forgive you all of your sins. You are right that I am innocent, but I am bearing your sin so that I may give you pardon by my body offered and my blood shed. Since that which sentenced you to death is covered, you will be with me in Paradise. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,” that is, come and receive my gift faithfully, do not lean on works. My grace is sufficient, nothing need be added. “I desire knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hear and believe what I proclaim to you, that my purpose is your full redemption. I bear this sentence because I wish to judge you as righteous in my sight. This I will do in my kingdom that I have gained by this throne, and I will remember you. I will raise you from the dead to life, so that you may be present in your body with me for all eternity.


Truly, dear Christians, these words of absolution spoken by Christ to the criminal are no different than the words of absolution you hear in this place. The man that stands before you and speaks them is not the source of authority. Authority has been handed over by Christ, for it is Christ’s office to forgive as the Lamb of God. This is why in the rite of confession it is asked, “do you believe that the forgiveness I speak is not my forgiveness but God’s?” The word of a man can comfort little, but the promises of God are sure and certain. The criminal died that day in peace because the promise was there for him. The promise is here for you as well, Jesus will bring you into His kingdom; He will give you life everlasting.


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. Amen.

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