Midweek Lent 6 Wednesday/Thursday March 24&25, 2021
Theme: “What Shall I Do with Jesus?” 21:2251
Follow Him in His Wondrous Love…To the Tomb
Passion History Part 6: Death & Burial
On the day Jesus died, God brought together a number of people to view His death. It included not only His close friends and relatives, but even some enemies. They were brought together to view His death and burial so that we could be sure that the Lord Jesus truly died and accomplished what needed to be done for us.
As they took Jesus off the cross, viewed His nail-pierced body, prepared it for a quick burial, and then laid it in the tomb, reality of His death set in. But this was not intended by God to be like our funerals where a person’s last respects are paid to the deceased. No.
God intended this to bring about the ending of other things. Buried in the tomb that day was Satan’s power to accuse us of sin. Buried in the tomb that day was the Old Adam which controlled us. Buried in the tomb that day was our old way of life, filled with rebellion and strife. Jesus’ funeral was a termination of these things, not the end of Jesus.
Tonight, as we commemorate His wondrous love at the tomb, we come first of all…
I. …to bury the Savior who bore our sin.
He who died for our sin was no ordinary person. Even the Roman centurion in charge of the crucifixion agreed with that when he exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”
Darkness at mid-day, a powerful earthquake, the wondrous words of Jesus before His death, the ripping of the curtain in the temple, the sudden and unexpected giving up of Jesus’ spirit – these things and more were evidence that Jesus was someone different. But who was it that died there on the cross that day?
Some say that the person who died was the man Jesus, but not God. After all, they say, if He were the eternal God, then He could not die.
Islam, which altogether denies the deity of Christ Jesus, teaches that Jesus never really died on the cross, but that it was really his brother Judas (not Iscariot) that did. They say that the two looked so much alike that not even Jesus’ close friends and relatives knew the difference.
But it is not only the skeptics and unbelievers who reject the belief that God Himself hung on the cross. Even some well-meaning but fully misled Christians have tried to separate the humanity of Jesus from the Godhead of His person for if God is eternal, they reason, how could Jesus die as God? They say that Jesus died only as a man. The disciple John had to fight that same heresy in his day.
Jesus was not just a man. Neither was He half man and half God. Nor was He sometimes man and then sometimes God. He was truly man and truly God; fully human and fully divine. He had two complete natures, divine and human, and they cannot be separated from the person of Jesus. He had to be both in order to save us. So it is that Paul writes, “None of the rulers of this age understood, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Co.2:8). He also reminded the leaders in the church at Ephesus, “Be shepherds of the church of God which He bought with His own blood” (Ac.20:28). Doesn’t that say it clearly enough. God bought us with His own blood. That means God died for us, God in the person of Christ Jesus.
We have a hymn in which the original version says: “Oh, sorrow dread! Our God is dead!” Another hymn says, “Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut his glories in When God, the mighty Maker, died, for man the creature’s sin” (TLH 167 & 154). These words are the truth that we must understand if we are to be Christians and saved. God died that day on Calvary; God was buried in the tomb. If not, you have no Savior and you are lost for the Scriptures are clear, “No man can redeem the life of another.”
This is a great, great mystery to our human reason, but revealed as truth to our minds and hearts by the Holy Spirit through the Word. This is truth. God came in flesh and blood to pay the wages of sin – death – for us.
That is the reason God invites us to see the funeral of Jesus Christ, our Savior – to know for sure without any doubt that He did die and was buried in the tomb. God traded places with us. God’s Son took all our sins on Himself and paid the death penalty for us. What Wondrous Love! Because of that we can be sure that Jesus’ death was sufficient and that our sins and their resulting punishment are taken care of. So we are led to the tomb to bury the Savior who bore our sin, to see it for sure, and to rejoice – not to feel sad – but to rejoice in our divine Savior.
But this funeral would mean nothing at all, if the story ended there. In fact, this would have been the most hopeless of funerals if the story ended with Jesus in the tomb. But it’s not the end because He rose from the dead three days later so that we might share in the blessings of life.
Therefore, since He rose again, this funeral that we attend at the tomb of Jesus is in many ways more our funeral than His. It’s the burial of our own sinful flesh. We do not come to the tomb to only bury the Savior temporarily, but we have really come to bury our sinful selves so that we can…
II. …be born again through the Savior so that we bear sin no more.
The Bible speaks of this when Paul writes in Romans (6:2f), “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the gory of the Father, we too may life a new life….We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?”
In Jesus’ death we have died to sin and through faith we have been born to a new life – redeemed, restored, forgiven. Although once dead in sin, God raised us to life in Christ.
Every time you think of your baptism and every time you see a baptism, think of this. In baptism your sins were washed away and you were entombed in the grave with Jesus so that when He rose, you also rose to a new life in Him. What a wondrous truth of His love! When you come to Jesus’ tomb, leave your sin and guilt there and follow in it no more. And if you come back to the tomb because you have failed, repent and once more rejoice in what the Son of God did for you here for we now belong to Him.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, That caused the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.”
We come here to bury the Savior who bore our sin. But now, having been born again through the Savior to a new life, let us bear that sin no more. God grant it to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
What Wondrous Love
The death of Christ on Calvary’s cross derives its saving power from the fact that He who died was no mere man, but, in deed and in truth, the only begotten Son of the Highest. He was “very God of very God,” together with the Father and the Spirit. Thus, St. John could write, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.” It took the death of the Son for God to atone for the sins of all mankind. That is the reason that Isaac Watts, contemplating the noonday darkness of Good Friday, wrote in his hymn: Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut his glories in When God, the Mighty Maker died For man, the creature’s sin.
Tonight: Follow Him in His Love …to the Tomb.
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
Tonight’s Order of Worship
(No offering will be taken in the service this evening. The offering plates
will be in the narthex where you may leave your offering after the service.)
The Invocation and Opening Prayer
Pastor: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. Once more we gather tonight to commemorate the wondrous love that Jesus Christ has for us.
All: What wondrous love it is as we recall Jesus’ suffering to remove the dreadful curse on our sinful souls.
Pastor: What love – that God sent His divine Son for us. And divine He had to be. There would be little comfort for us in the Gospel if our Savior had been a mere man, confined to the limitations of time and space, just like we are. What would have made Him different from anyone else?
All: The blood of no mortal could ever have paid the price for sin, for “all have sinned and fallen short of God. There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” Only God and His love could save us.
Pastor: That love was manifested in the person and work of our divine Redeemer. Think for a moment of the immeasurable love that purchased our redemption. Christ surrendered the glories of heaven, endured the miseries of earth, and bore the pains of hell in order that He might bring us, His enemies, to heaven. Was there ever greater love than this?
All: It was love, pure love that brought Him from His heavenly throne. It was love, unsearchable love that impelled the Holy One to fulfill the Law’s demands in the place of guilty sinners. It was love, supreme love that drove Him to the altar of the cross to atone for the sins of a world that had spurned Him.
Pastor: It was this kind of wondrous love of which He spoke to His disciples when He said, “Greater love has no man than this, that one should lay down His life for His friends.” That love is our daily hope. That love contrived the way of our escape, closed the doors of hell behind us, and opened wide the gates of God’s eternal paradise. That love was divine, for He is God.
All: What a wondrous thought and what a comfort for us. Divine love has purchased our forgiveness! And since it is divine, we can be sure. Lord, be with us this night as we follow You from Calvary’s cross to the tomb in the garden. Increase our faith and strengthen our grasp on the eternal life You have won for us. Grant this to us as we worship You tonight; in Your name we pray. Amen.
The Hymn: “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted” 127
The Reading of the Passion History: Death and Burial.
Patterned after the Lutheran arrangement that was printed in “The Lutheran Lectionary” of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America in the 1940s.
The Hymn: “Savior, When In Dust to Thee” 124
What Shall I Do with Jesus? Follow Him in His Wondrous Love…to the Tomb
Prayer and Luther’s Evening Prayer
All: I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day. Forgive me all my sins and graciously keep me this night. Into Your hands I commend my body and soul and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen
Congr: (sung) Amen.
The Hymn: “What Wondrous Love Is This? 120
Holy Week: Tenebrae Service – at Peace, Maundy Thursday at 7 pm;
– at Zion, Good Friday at 7 pm (no supper beforehand at either church)