Holy Wednesday 2016
Sermon on the Passion of St. Luke
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us consider three things concerning the Passion of Our Lord: its nature, its power; and its benefit.
The nature of Christ’s passion is bitter, sorrowful, and lacking all dignity. It establishes a dark contrast between His goodness and our wickedness. The particular cruelty of those carrying out the sentence against Jesus is an indictment against our race, as are the false judgments and political manipulations of Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod. Despite this, and despite the Lord’s power, He suffered it, patiently, without harming anyone and without complaint: “1 Peter 2:22-23 He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”
The indignity of His Death is manifest from His rejection by the crowd. They who had no room in the inn, who received Him not, cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” St. Luke reports that “the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.” Matthew records that “the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.”
The power of His Passion appeared in heaven, earth, and under the earth. “There was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” The earth trembled. Matthew records that Matt. 27:51, “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” And there was also a sign under the earth. The graves delivered up the dead, Matt. 27:52, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”
The heavens declared the power of Christ’s Passion by going dark for the power of the Passion was to re-do creation. Light was dimmed to be called forth anew as the Spirit hovered over the chaos on Gogoltha’s stoney slopes. The earth proclaimed the power of the cross by shaking open and letting out the dead. Death and the grave are silenced and can no longer hold their prey.
The benefit of the Passion is perhaps most obvious to us. The Father . . . hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (He) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12–14, KJV 1900)
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:6–9, ESV)
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
With much thanks to St. Thomas via John M. Ashley, “Homily XII: The Lord’s Work and Ours: Palm Sunday.—(From the Gospel),” in Ninety-Nine Homilies of S. Thomas Aquinas upon the Epistles and Gospels for Forty-Nine Sundays of the Christian Year, trans. John M. Ashley, vol. 3 (London: Church Press Company, 1867), 21–22.