Sermons

"Part of the Crowd": Sermon for Good Friday, Year B

"Part of the Crowd": Sermon for Good Friday, Year B

Mar 30, 2018

Passage:John 18-19

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Holy Week

Category: Grace, Suffering, Humility, Sin

Keywords: crucifixion, crucifixión, grace, hope, love, sin

Summary:

On Good Friday, we hear the "Passion Narrative" from the Gospel of John, where Jesus is arrested, tired, is crucified, then breathes his last on the cross. He is then buried in the tomb. This sermon asks us to focus on what part we might play in that cycle of the narrative?

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Today--Good Friday--is the most solemn day in the calendar of the Church.

We are reminded today of our humanity and what that means.

At the beginning of our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, we were all told: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

This proclamation was not a threat. It was a reminder of our mortality and humility in the presence of the divine.

Today we must also face a reality of our Christian lives.

This is the day we meditate on the cross of Jesus.

We heard the passion narrative from John as it traced the story of Jesus in his final hours before the crucifixion.

We participate each year in the retelling of this story.

And one of the most striking parts of John's narrative is the place where the people, who had only days before been cheering Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, were now calling for his death.

John tells us that the Roman Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd at noon that day and says: "Here is your king!"

The crowd replies: "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!"

Pilate asks, "Shall I crucify your king?"

The crowd replies, "We have no king but the emperor!"

Then Jesus is handed over to be crucified.

Traditionally, it's at this point in the reading of the narrative that we all stand up to hear about the crucifixion itself. We acknowledge our human participation in the action.

Of course, I don't mean that we literally go back in time and kill Jesus.

But we participate in the crucifixion nonetheless.

We are part of the crowd.

Jesus says to us, "Open your hearts and your minds to those who challenge you."

We say: "Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but the emperor!"

Jesus says to us: "Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you."

We say: "Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but the emperor!"

Jesus says: "Take care of the poor, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison."

We say: "Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but the emperor!"

Jesus: "Stop killing one another!"

We say: "Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but the emperor!"

Jesus says: "Know that you are created by God out of love. You are to share that love with EVERYONE!"

We say: "We don't believe you. Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but the emperor!"

We are part of the crowd.

The crowd saw to it that Jesus was crucified.

We may be part of the crowd, but by being here today--on Good Friday-- we also witness God's glory and power in the cross. 

A cruel device of torture and death--a cross--for us is no longer a symbol of shame. Even if we are part of the crowd--we can look at the cross and know that it is an instrument of God's victory over death.

No matter how complicit we feel... or guilty we feel... or sinful we feel... or unworthy we feel...

...this cross that we gaze upon this Good Friday tells us that Jesus Christ--God incarnate--God made flesh--loves us all... unconditionally.

Amen.