In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Passion of Our Lord is full of irony:
*Jesus calls His ignoble death His glory.
*He was betrayed with a kiss.
*He was accused of blasphemy, while the accusers committed blasphemy by failing to worship Him.
*The people rightly confessed that Jesus deserves to die according to the Law. And what they said was true even though it wasn’t what they meant.
*So also the prophesy of the high priest that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. That was true, but not in the way he meant.
*Greatest of situational irony is that the will of the Father is the same as the mob. The Father wants Barabbas go free and Jesus to die in his place.
*The people ask for His Blood to be upon them and their children, pretending that killing Him is a just act and there is no shame in it, and again, they are right though not in the way they mean.
*Finally, no epitaph has ever been so true, no accusation so precise, as the mocking charge of Pilate: “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”
The irony throughout is caused by the contrast between the good and gracious will of Our Father and the sinful, evil intentions of the people. They meant it for evil, but He used for good. Even the devil was used by God for good. He is the ultimate dupe, seduced by his malice and greed. He had been watching and tempting mankind for a long time and he knows all the prophecies. He knows the Christ will be a tender plant, a root out of dry ground, that He will have no form or comeliness and be without beauty, a Man of sorrows. But that sorrow is not enough. Satan goes further. He fulfills the prophesy. He makes the Messiah despised and rejected by men. He acquaints Him with grief. He strikes Him, smites Him, and afflicts Him. He riles up the mob and crucifies Him.
Yet this is the end of Satan and of Hell. This wins our salvation. For this most evil and unjust of all acts is the greatest good. It is how and where God loved the world. By His death Christ has rescued us from death and ended the reign of Satan. For surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement for our peace was upon Him. By His stripes we are healed. Thus do we glory in the cross, and praise God at the death of Jesus, and ask that His Blood be upon us and our children. For we are not ashamed of the cross though the cross be the most shameful moment of man. And there is the irony. We meant it for evil, He meant and used it for good.
But not so on Easter. There is no irony today. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Evil is finished. The sacrifice is complete. There are no double meanings, conflicting agendas, or ambiguities. There are no confusions about who is Lord or what is happening of what the plan is. Jesus was crucified, but do not be afraid. That crime is not held against you. It is not your sins that crucified Him. Your sins are forgiven, gone, as far as the East is from the West. You are holy and just, righteous and pure, beloved of the Father. Do not be be afraid. He was crucified and buried but He is not dead. He is risen. His soul has come back to His body. He is alive, back from the dead, So do not be afraid. The victory He has won He has won for you and for your children.
On Friday we celebrated the will of the Father that was done despite us. We reveled in the ironic goodness of God that turned evil to good. But today there is no irony, only for joy, for Jesus lives. The will of the Father is manifest in His resurrection. Death has been undone and creation is restored. Everyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. Our enmity with God is done. Hell’s prison cannot hold us. The grave’s victory has been stolen and death has lost its sting. Jesus lives. We are free.
He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.