Friday, September 9, 2011

“Broken JUSTICE” (John 18:37-40)

S-1246 5MIL/3A 04/13/11, (O) #143 vs 1, 5, 15, (S) #153, 14; (C) #416

Text: Psalm 89:1-15; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 18:28-19:16

Theme: “Broken JUSTICE” (John 18:37-40)

Question: “Have you said, ‘Life Isn’t Fair!’?” 6th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 6th Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “Then Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I Am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:37-40).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of the Eternal Judge our good and gracious God, beloved in the Lord. Ever since that first bite of the forbidden fruit was taken in the Garden; ever since the Prince of darkness masqueraded as the Angel of light, the world has been turned upside down and inside out. Ever since then, justice has been thrown out the window; and injustice is part and parcel of our broken world.

You know it is true because you experience it, you witness it and you live it. If anything that we hate and despise in this world of ours is the injustice that some receive or we have received. Case in point: in 2007, James Tillman a 44-year-old black man from Harford, CT was exonerated after serving 18 years in prison for a crime - rape - he didn't commit. He was accused of raping a white woman and unjustly convicted and imprisoned. His life and family were ruined because of the injustice received. Those kinds of stories tug at your heart and wonder how we can have such injustice in our modern world today. Thankfully, someone cared enough to work for his freedom.

Certainly our world is full of injustice and we know it is not fair. Some get the “book “ thrown at them for minor offenses and others of more substantial means get off Scott free! We see it daily among the politicians and celebrities. Wesley Snipes was put in jail for tax evasion, but Politician like John Kerry, Tim Geithner and Charles Rangel didn’t go to jail for the same crime. It isn’t fair, is it?

Do you know that in Venezuela a gallon of gas cost .07 and in Libya it is .57. But in the Midwest the average gallon is 3.77. Certainly, we feel mistreated at the injustice of having to pay such a high price.

However, of all the injustice in the world, Good Friday’s injustice is the worst of all. Listen to the text that engages us tonight at the blatant obvious and deliberate injustice: he [Pilate] went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber”

Jesus was innocent, after Pilate had investigated all of the accusations, He stated, ‘I find no guilt in Him.” Yet Pilate didn’t deal justly with Jesus. He broke the Roman justice system. Pilate knew, Herod knew and the Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was innocent yet; they all condemned Him guilty for crimes He didn’t commit. IT ISN’T FAIR, IS IT? PAUSE.

But because of sin, those who despised the kind, compassionate and merciful Jesus wanted Him dead by crucifixion and wanted a guilty man—Barabbas freed. Go figure. This is indeed unfair. Barabbas was thief, murderer, unsavory fellow but they chose him over One who is innocent, kind, caring and loving. What Travesty. The innocent is condemned and the guilty is set free.

A Sunday school teacher was telling this story to her 2nd graders. And they all began to scream this is not fair. Isn’t there anything we can do to the injustice that He received? Some even cried at what happened to Jesus. They wanted to rewrite history.

However, Good Friday was not a miscarriage of injustice. Good Friday shows that God takes sins seriously. Jesus had not sinned, but was innocent. But by doing what was right He became the sin-bearer. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth in our Epistle lesson for tonight: “For our sake He [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). By the greatest sacrifice the human world has known, by the Broken Justice the world has witnessed outside the walls of Jerusalem, by Jesus becoming the scapegoat, we become righteous in God’s sight. Right here you behold Him whom John pointed to saying: “The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).

Yes, He who was innocent becomes guilty, so that we are who guilty might become innocent. Luther called this the “Sweet Exchange”. Christ takes your place, suffers your hell, punished in your place, and dies your death. Is it fair? No it isn’t. By doing the right thing, Jesus becomes guilty for us. Our sermon hymn affirms this truth: Tell me, all who hear Him groaning, Was there ever grief like this? Friends through fear His cause disowning, Foes insulting His distress; Many hands were raised to wound Him, None would intervene to save; But the deepest stroke that pierced Him Was the stroke that JUSTICE gave” (Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted v. 2)

Certainly, our world is a world of Broken Justice. You know that you deserve God’s wrath. You know that if justice were to be done, what you and I would get? Hell would be our lot. God’s eternal punishment would be ours. Certainly, God sees all of our sins even if others don’t see what we do. God knows our hearts that are blackened by sin and it famishing appetite. And the reality of the matter we have to stand before the Eternal Judge and receive our due. PAUSE.

Think of the coming judgment as the review of a critical play in a professional football game. Everything is on the line. The outcome of this play will mean championship or defeat. The red flag has been tossed onto the field to challenge the call, so now the officials will huddle over the judgment and review the footage under the hooded monitor.

At this point I have good reason to sweat the judgment. I know that I have stepped out of bounds, many times. I have fumbled, been in illegal formations, and committed a number of unchristian fouls. The reality of what I have done is seen over and over again. The replay doesn’t lie. From every angle it shows that I have broken God’s Law and …and, you wait.

The judgment is quick, I’m not surprised, and the official renders the verdict. . . . I have the resurrection and eternal life! Why? What was he looking at under the hood? What angle of view could possibly lead him to that amazing judgment? Simply, what He saw was a man disfigured, bloody and battered hanging on a cross. The verdict I AM INNOCENT. Hell is not my lot. But Christ’s white robe of righteousness is mine. “For our sake He [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”

Oh, the sweet sentence that we get. Certainly it is not fair, but in God’s economy it is not fair that we are after, but faith rooted in a past event, that gives us the certain present and guaranteed future. The High Priest Caiaphas was right after all, “It is better that One man should die for all the people, than the whole nation should perish” (John 11:50).

And certainly one Man did die for all the people. You know why He did that? Because He cared about your freedom and wanted to do something about it; because Jesus would rather go to hell for you rather than go to heaven without you. He did this for you to give You God’s Justice—to receive what we don’t deserve—God’s grace and mercy.

God’s Good Friday Justice gives us the grace of injustice for today and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

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