"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Reflections on the propers for the fifth Sunday in Lent, Passion Sunday

I would post the entire sermon that I wrote here, but I do not believe that many people read this blog and I do not want to discourage those who do read with too long of a post.
But the propers for this past Sunday are taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews 9:11-15 and the ending of the 8th chapter of John's Gospel.
The basic thrust of Passion Sunday is to prepare us for the events we will now begin commemorating in about a week; the events that would change the course of history and the entire world. Passion means suffering and so this Sunday points us toward the Suffering Servant himself.
The two readings which are appointed teach us different sides of who had to suffer. You see Hebrews makes it very plain that God required as a sacrifice the blood and death of a spotless creature to appease his wrath. And while some animals were perfect, that is unblemished, they were all touched by the Fall. Animal sacrifices were therefore limited in their atoning capabilities. So what then are we to do? If everything is affected by sin but we need a sacrifice of blood and death which is free from sin, where are we to look?
Enter Jesus of Nazareth. The Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the taking to his divinity a human nature and fusing the two natures to form one Person, allowed for flesh and blood untainted by the Fall to be offered. John 8 is perhaps one of the greatest texts on the divinity of Jesus Christ. The reason it is read on this Sunday is to remind Christians that it took the God-Man to stand in the gap for us. There was no other conceivable possibility. Only God was pure enough to die for man, but before the Incarnation, God had no body.

With the purity of God influencing the human nature of Christ we now had a perfect sacrificial candidate, and he was a willing victim. It was hard, no doubt, "nevertheless, not my will by thy will be done." The answer to Christ's famous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, is simply put, "no". The will of the Father was for his Son to die, because there was no other way possible for salvation to come into the world.

As we approach Holy Week, keep in mind the nature of the sacrifice that was made for you. Understand it was all that could be done, but that it was done perfectly, "to purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God." And as Christ in humility has obeyed his Father, so too should we humbly obey him, who has by his death given us the ability to do so.

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