S-1428 GF/3A 4/18/2014 Hymns: (O) # 435; #451; S #770; 450;
Texts: 2 Samuel 2:4-6; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 19:25-27
Theme: “A Loyal Companion” (John 19:26-27)
Question: “Who is your closest companion?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for Good Friday is from the Gospel lesson “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Most holy and beloved people of God, tonight our journey brings us to that dreadful night of darkness, destruction and death on Skull Hill. Tonight we stand in awe and wonder what would possess the Rabbi from Nazareth to allow people to beat Him, brutally abuse Him, bloody Him by hanging Him on the cross. Tonight we hear the jeers, the sneers and the smears of the Man from Nazareth. Tonight we see the torture, the torment and the tears. Tonight we see the deepest demonstration and devotion of the LOVE of Jesus.
In the midst of it all, the Man on the cross is in total control of every second, soldier and sentence because He is the Savior of the world on God’s mission to free people from the anguish of death and the agony of hell. In the midst of it all, Jesus is not concerned about Himself but about others namely His mother and John the One whom He loved. In the midst of it all, Jesus raises His voice and speaks words to one of His loyal followers saying: “Behold, your mother!”
Tonight, we see what it means to be a friend, a loyal companion and a support when the chips are down. Tonight, we learn the true meaning of what Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This evening we see this friend who stood by His Lord and Savior throughout the depth of Gethsemane’s long ordeal, in the court of Caiaphas, at the trial before Pontius Pilate and now at His crucifixion. PAUSE.
John understood loyalty first hand. Not because He stayed by His Savior during the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life, but because His Savior was the One who was loyal to the end. That is why in the Gospel of John, he paints this friend with the greatest images: The Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. He is the One who came from the Father to forgive and heal and restore. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
John goes on describing with more details and vibrant colors this Man who was His teacher and loyal companion for 3 years saying, “The Messiah, in a word, was/is ‘the Word.’ A walking message. A love letter. A light in a dark world and joy in a sad life. In Him and because of Him we have FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND LIFE ETERNAL.
The relationship between these two companions is similar to that of Moses and Joshua, David and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha. But in John, we see more of this loyalty as he describes in a very simple and profound way the endearing term Jesus coined for him—“The One Jesus loved!”
But John also showed love and loyalty to Jesus. One gets the impression that to John, Jesus was above all a loyal companion. Rabbi? Of course! Teacher? Positively! Messiah? Yes! Son of God? Indeed! Miracle worker? Definitely! But more than anything else Jesus was loyal to the end. He would complete the task at hand. He would finish man’s redemption. He would be the friend that would fulfill His own words—dying for His friends; and even more, for His enemies.
This is the friend of sinners. For this reason our sermon hymn “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” has become one of the favorite hymns in Christendom and used at the passing of one from this veil of tears to the life eternal. The hymn writer captures this thought beautifully saying: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.” LSB 770 v. 2, PAUSE.
John understood this and he wants us to understand it as well and to realize what we have in Jesus as our loyal companion. Perhaps, this is why John was the only one of the twelve who was at the cross. He came to say goodbye. By his own admission he hadn’t quite put the pieces together yet. But that didn’t really matter. As far as he was concerned, his closest friend was in trouble and he came to help and give support.
Likely one of the youngest disciples of Jesus, John teaches us that the strongest relationship with Christ is not a complicated one. He teaches us the greatest webs of loyalty are spun in love and mercy that reveals you have a friend you can count on.
Beloved children of God, Christ is indeed loyal to you to the end—the end of His life on the cross for your sins. But it goes beyond the cross. He is loyal to you at the empty tomb. He is loyal to you as He hears and answers your prayers. Christ is the loyal companion who will stick by you no matter what. Christ is the eternal friend who supports you; strengthens you and sustains you through His Word and Sacraments.
Through that Word that speaks of the Word that became flesh, it shows us on Good Friday the glorious relationship we have with Him and what it does for us. It proves to us that what Christ has spoken is true—He will lay down His life and raise it up again. He becomes our joy and this joy is full and complete. It connects us to God the Father, it restores our broken relationship. It opens the gates of heaven and guarantees our salvation.
As you stand this evening on this Good Friday, remember the LOYAL companion—your LORD and Savior, Jesus who offered His life for yours and rose again on the 3rd day to give you the hope of glory. Remember the Psalmist who stated: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Now this is good news the world needs to hear.
Because Christ is our friend who died for us, we become friends to others and introduce them to this FRIEND of sinners—the loyal companion to the ends of the earth. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA