Category Archives: Holy Week

To Bear Witness to the Truth


Text: John 18:36-37
Date: Good Friday + 3/30/18

“My kingdom is not of this world.” “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.” This is the confusion that lay behind our Lord’s final hours ending in His crucifixion. He didn’t deny He had a kingdom and was a king. Pontius Pilate, of course, could only conceive of kingdoms as earthly governments. Those who delivered Jesus to him knew, however, that He was talking about His equality with God and the higher kingdom that is over any and all earthly ones. Pilate saw a threatened rival. The Jews saw blasphemy. Therefore they pressed Pilate’s button when they said, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (19:12).

“For this purpose I was born.” Some of the first to discover this, of course, were the wise men from the east years ago who followed his star and came to honor this newborn king. One of the first to hear it was Herod the king who also feared a rival sovereign and sought to wipe Him out as an infant.

But for this purpose He was born, indeed. The descendant of the great king David as God promised, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom…. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Sam 7:12-14). “Are you the King of the Jews?” asked Pilate. When Jesus did not deny it Pilate said, “So you are a king!”

Just five days ago the people’s praise echoed through the holy city, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (12:13). Pilate has His verdict written and placed above His head on the cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Yes, Jesus was a king. For this purpose He was born.

The purpose, He said, was “to bear witness to the truth.” Remember that Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6). What is truth? Jesus is truth. For He is the savior of sinners.

The truth is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). None can save himself and so all are in need of a savior. The truth is Jesus is the world’s redeemer. For this purpose He was born. For this purpose He lived a holy life. For this purpose He was anointed “to proclaim good news to the poor…to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19). For this purpose He taught and preached and healed. For this purpose He was baptized by John. For this purpose He freely forgave sins. For this purpose finally He allowed Himself in humble obedience to His Father to be arrested, falsely accused, condemned as a criminal, whipped and beaten and spit upon. For this purpose He was mocked and crucified, died and was buried.

And that’s where we leave this king tonight; in His silent tomb. The silence of the previous night was ominous. The silence of this night, however, gives hope. For His purpose has been accomplished. He was crucified, died and was buried only to proclaim victory over the hordes of hell and to rise again on the third day. For this purpose He has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth and if you continue in His Word you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

Thy Kingdom Come: Thy Kingdom Has Come

Text: St. John’s Passion
Date: Good Friday + 4/14/17

Finally, what we have been praying for has come. Oh, maybe some have thought the Kingdom of God would be the answer to all our problems. Thy Kingdom Come. Or maybe you have thought God would begin ruling in your favor against all the unfairness and shortcomings of everyday life in this world. But tonight we pray again, “Thy Kingdom Come.” And, to our surprise, here it is. Complete healing? Success? Wellness? No. The surprise is this is the kingdom of God: the blood drenched cross. Pilate couldn’t see it. His responsibility was to provide some sense of governmental justice both for Jesus and for the Jews. And we continue to struggle with the realities of living in this world, this work-a-day world of hours and wages and deductions and taxes. Pilate asked Jesus repeatedly and with wonder if He were the king, not of Israel, but of the Jews. And why doesn’t He look like or act like a king? “My kingdom is not of this world.” Continue reading Thy Kingdom Come: Thy Kingdom Has Come

Thy Kingdom Come: The Royal Banquet

Text: Matthew 26:17-30
Date: Maundy Thursday + 4/13/17

It is debated to what extent our Lord’s observance of the annual Passover was like the modern observance. Many think it was a bit simpler. Yet we know from Luke’s Gospel that there were the traditional four cups of wine, the sharing of the matzah and a meal or supper. Certainly it wouldn’t be a valid Passover without the prayers and the reading and review of the Exodus from Egypt especially the command to place some of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. As God sent the angel of death when the firstborn of every household would die, as the last sign to Pharaoh, so He spared his own people, saying, “The blood shall be a sign for you.” “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex 12:12-15). Continue reading Thy Kingdom Come: The Royal Banquet

Thy Kingdom Come: Who Is This King of Glory?

Text: St. Matthew’s Passion
Date: Passion/Palm Sunday + 4/9/17

The kingdom of God comes to us all by itself without our prayer. Martin Luther in his Large Catechism says the kingdom of God came as He “sent his Son, Christ our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil and to bring us to himself and rule us as a king of righteousness, life, and salvation against sin, death, and an evil conscience.” He didn’t ask us for permission. He just did it. Continue reading Thy Kingdom Come: Who Is This King of Glory?