Lent 5 — Judica 2018

Judica
Modified from Rev. Ralph Tausz, Judica 2011
http://www.apostlesmelrosepark.org/index.php?page=Sermons&sid=235
March 18, 2018 A+D
John 8: 42-59

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Small children will attempt to hide by simply closing their eyes or by covering themselves up with a blanket. Don’t they realize that just because their eyes are closed doesn’t mean they have become invisible? Do they think a blanket can stop a monster or crossed fingers will hold off a vampire?

It is not just kids. Right at the very beginning of the Bible we meet a grown man named Adam who is afraid. He hides from God among the trees of the Garden. Does he really think he can hide from His Creator who knows and sees everything? Then there’s Israel’s first king, King Saul, a head taller than everyone else in Israel. But on inauguration day, they couldn’t find him because he was hiding behind some luggage. Did the tallest man in Israel really think he would get away with it?

I might ask you the same thing. Did you really think that you got away with your sins because you pretended they didn’t happen? Do you think that erasing your hard drive means that God doesn’t know? That the Miranda Rights can be invoked in heaven or there is a statute of limitations? Do you think that you can stave off God’s wrath with comparisons or excuses? God sees into your heart. He knows when you are lying, spinning the truth, exaggerating. He knows how you judge your friends and family, how you look at the girls with lust, how you daydream of revenge and luxury.

Your efforts at hiding make you look as foolish as Adam and Saul. You don’t have to hide. Jesus has freed you to speak the truth about yourself, to confess your sins. He has provided all the cover you need, not fig leaves and lies but His Holy Body and Blood, His sacrifice. Don’t hide your sins. Hand them over to Jesus. He knows about them anyway. Let Him have them and in exchange receive what He wants to hand over to you: righteousness, innocence, blessedness.

In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus hid Himself from His would-be murderers. That’s why we veiled the crosses and crucifixes. Surrounded by his opponents, Jesus declares Himself to be much greater than Abraham. He declares Himself to be no less than Almighty God. He declares publicly that He is the great I AM who spoke to Moses from the bush and led them through the Red Sea on dry ground, the One has no beginning because He always was, always is, always will be.

They picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself. He didn’t hide because He was scared or ashamed of His sins or wanted to keep His sins. He had no sins. Nor did He hide because He lacked trust and was afraid to die. His hiding is a glorious hiding for He hides as One who is fully in control, rational and dead serious about His hiding. He does not hide to avoid what He fears but He hides so that He can come out just at the right time, and bear in His body all that your sins deserve. His death will not be a lynching. He will be judged by Law, condemned twice by the legal authorities, once by the leaders of the Jews and again by Caesar’s puppet Pilate.

He hid that day because His hour had not yet come. He couldn’t be stoned and die there because there was so much more He had to accomplish for His Father and for you. He hid because there was still Lazarus to raise from the dead. He still had to institute the Supper and teach His disciples by washing their feet. There was still the bloody prayer in Gethsemane, the kiss from Judas, the arrest, Peter’s denial and restoration. He had to hide because according to the Scriptures, His mission from God was to die a bloody death on a tree for all to see, according to the Law, and not by a mob with stones.

And all that His Body might again be hidden, hidden on Friday night and Holy Saturday behind a large stone in a tomb, dead as dead could be and yet ripe for the harvest on the third day and the glorious revelation that He who is the Light of the world is also the Life of the world, the Living God who overcomes death.

Look now, O Christian. Hide not your face from this gift. Look to Holy Saturday. Jesus is dead. His spirit has departed. His body is hiding in the tomb of a rich man. The great I AM has a body! He has joined creation to redeem it. He has died in that body. The flesh of God borne of Mary hides Himself in the dust of the earth for Adam and Eve, for King Saul and Judas as well if they’d have Him, for Peter and for you. He hides Himself, suffers shame, is put to death for your sins. He suffers Himself to be quenched and killed and hidden.

And there, with His dead body, lies hidden and taken away, the wrath of God, justice, the Law, and Hell so that you need not face it, so that there’s none left for you. It is hidden so that you need not hide. There hiding behind the rock is the Body of the One who is Life and who will be raised from the dead to speak peace to you and to show you the wounds that give your conscience a permanent hiding place from guilt.

Jesus hid so that you don’t have to. There is no need to fear your sins. They are taken away and buried in the ground and left there to rot, never to see the sun again. For when it came time to go to the cross for you, Jesus didn’t hide. He appeared as our great High Priest who came to deal once and for all with our sin and guilt by His own blood. He went as a Lamb the slaughter, restraining the host of heaven, allowing Satan and evil men to do their worst to Him and suffering condemnation for the being the King of the Jews.

So let us go to the altar of God, to God our Exceeding Joy. For here again Jesus hides Himself from the prying eyes of blasphemers but reveals Himself to faith. His Body and Blood are hidden in bread and wine that we might hide our sins in Him. For now He is hidden here but soon He comes in glory when every knee will bow and every tongue confessed that the crucified Lord is risen and reigns. Then as now He is more than our hiding place. He is also our refuge and fortress, the great I AM who is in His Flesh our Brother, our Priest, and our Bridegroom.

In +Jesus’ Name.

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