by The Rev. Mark Buetow
April 10, 2009
St. John 18:1—19:42
In the Garden of Eden, mankind fell into sin and death. On the cross of Calvary, mankind was saved from sin and death. In the Garden, disobedience led to a curse, to punishment. Now Adam would have a hard time getting the ground to grow food. Thorns and thistles would come up and be a nuisance, a reminder of a cursed earth. Every prick of the finger on a nasty thorn is a reminder that man brought sin and death into the world, a curse. But now look! The Son of God wears a crown of thorns! The curse is on Him! He bears it, carries it, suffers under it. Sin and death and the curse are for Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! See your Lord, crowned with thorns, carrying the curse for you. St. Paul says that it means He was made sin for us that we might be in Him the righteousness of God. It's not just that Jesus carries our sin. He IS our sin! On the cross, He is every wicked person, every evil deed, every action and thought and word deserving of God's death and hell. We brought on the curse in the Garden but it is Jesus who takes the curse on Himself to get rid of it for us.
In the Garden, we became despisers of God's word. The very first son born into this world is a murderer, Cain who killed His brother Abel. Violence and hatred come with sin and the curse. Sin turns us against each other. It makes us into murderers who only care about ourselves. But now look! A murderer is going free! He gets released from the dungeon and the innocent Son of God takes His place. Who's it going to be? Jesus or Barabbas? Barabbas, of course! Who's it going to be to die? You or Jesus? Jesus, of course, who came to take your place. He goes to judgment. You are set free. He goes to suffering. You are let go. He is condemned as guilty. You are declared “not guilty.” You are the free person. Jesus is the murderer now, condemned to die for our sins. We kill our brothers all the time by how we live. But it is Jesus who is murdered for us. Killed in our place. We are let go to life. He is sent to death. And that trading of places means we are free in Jesus Christ, from the curse and judgment.
In the Garden of Eden, man tried to make clothes. Fig leaves. No good. We try to cover our sins and hide them. It doesn't work. The Lord sees. And so the Lord makes clothes. And now look! At Calvary, the Lord strips His Son and His clothes are given to sinners. Romans soldiers. Who's more sinful than the Romans? But they get His clothes. One gets his perfect robe, with no seam. That's why the Lamb dies. To make clothes. Clothes for you. The robe of Christ's righteousness. The clothing of Jesus that says, “Your sins are covered.” When you are wearing this robe, given to you in Holy Baptism, your sins cannot be seen by God. No fig leaves for you. You wear royal robes now. You are a King because you wear the clothes of a King. You are shining and radiant because your fig leaves have been taken away and replaced by the clothes of Jesus. No worrying about what to wear when you stand before God. The clothes have been supplied. Gleaming, shining, brilliantly white with the perfection and beauty and holiness of God's own Son. Perfect size. Measured for you. Fit to you by the Lord who provides them. No making clothes for yourself. No work trying to cover your sins. They've been covered. You've been clothed. Covered with Jesus.
In the Garden of Eden, man began the work of sin. We started it. God was not our enemy until we turned from His Word. He was not terrifying until we realized the nakedness of our sin. He was not frightening until we tried to run and hide from Him. But there, in the Garden, the Lord spoke His promise. The Seed of the Woman would crush the serpent's head. And now look! Now, from the cross, the words of our Lord: “It is finished!” Everything God has been working toward is done. Accomplished. All that the Father planned for your salvation has been taken care of. It is finished! The work of salvation was begun by Jesus and finished by Him. No more price to pay. Sins are covered. The debt is paid in full. God's judgment against us is finished. No more nasty looks from the Lord for your sins. He has forgotten them. Our struggling to fix what's wrong is finished. No more trying to earn a place in God's kingdom. He's put us there by His grace. No more trying to convince God that we deserve a place. We are given a place by Jesus. It is finished. All of it. Nothing left. No decision to make. No commitment to honor. No promise to keep. No good works to balance out the sins. It's done. The Lamb of God has done it. There's nothing left. No strings attached. No conditions. No qualifications. Just salvation. A done deal. He's been stricken, smitten and afflicted. Done and finished by the Lamb of God.
In the Garden, Adam had the gift of a wife made out of his own rib. He then let the Devil seduce her into sin and followed right along. Adam's perfect and holy marriage is now full of the curse and death. But now look! From the cross, a new Bride! A Bride for Jesus! Born from His side! Born in blood and water, the sacraments of the church. Eve was the “Mother of all the Living.” Now the Christian church is. New birth in the water from Jesus' side which flows into the font. Food and nourishment from the blood that flows into the cup of His holy Supper. It is finished. Yet even after His death, life comes. Jesus' death means your sins are forgiven. Even now His blood and water are given to save you. The water to mark you as His own. The blood to forgive you and strengthen you in the faith. Blood and water to mark you as “hands off” to the Devil and death which can no longer destroy you. Blood and water to look to your whole life and know that your Savior has overcome your curse, that He has become your sin, and that in Him, you are the righteousness of God.
In the Garden was a Tree of Life. But they never got to eat from it. Instead they ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and brought into the world sin and death. But now look! A new Tree of Life. Upon that Tree was the Son of God. The blood and water that give life are its fruits. In the Garden of Eden life began for us. And then sin and death took it away. But in another Garden, life begins again for us. A garden where there is a tomb. A tomb where Jesus is buried. A tomb that is empty on Easter because our Lord Jesus has risen. Death cannot keep Him down. Now it can't keep you down either. Death is swallowed up in victory. It has no terror. It has no sting. In a garden sin began. Then the world was cursed. Thorns sprang up. Murderers were born. Clothes were tried. A bride was abandoned to the Devil's preaching. But on the cross and in the garden and today wherever the blood and water are flowing, Christ is making all things new. The curse is overcome. The devil is defeated. Sin is forgiven. Death is overcome. Life returns. The Lamb who was slain is risen. That is your life today, the day of our Lord's death, and every day unto life everlasting in Jesus. Amen.
Created: April 10th, 2009