Chapel Homily for Good Friday. An Atonement for Sin
One of the greatest verses in the New Testament can be found in 1 Peter 3:18, ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.’ These words tell us the major reason why Jesus Christ died on Good Friday.
Firstly, ‘Christ died to bring us to God.’ Behind this statement is the assumption that we are all separated from God and need to be brought back to him. And I believe this is so. All our sense of alienation and homesickness can be traced ultimately to our separation from God due to our sin. As Isaiah the Old Testament Prophet put it, “Your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). So what did Christ do to correct this dreadful situation we’re all in?
Secondly, Peter wrote, ‘Christ died for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.’ To clarify this this we need to recall how sin and death are linked to one another from the very beginning to the end of the Bible as an offence and death the just reward. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). But Jesus committed no sins for which atonement needed to be made. So if he died for sins, it must have been for our sins and not for his. Jesus died as the innocent one for the guilty. The Bible teaches that his death was substitutionary. This means Jesus took our place, bore our sins and died our death, that we may be freely forgiven and set free from a fear of death.
Thirdly, Peter wrote, ‘Christ died for sins once for all.’ The Greek adverb ‘once’ is ‘hapax’. It does not mean ‘once upon a time’ but ‘once for all.’ The word ‘hapax’ expresses the absolute finality of what Christ did on the cross. He paid the full penalty for all our sins and that is why, when from the cross, he remember he cried out, “It is finished!”
So where does this leave us? What is there for us to do? Nothing! We cannot add or contribute anything to what Christ did on the cross. All we can do is to accept this grace-filled substitutionary act, thank him for what he has done and then rest in his finished work, free from condemnation and guilt.
The Anglican Sentence and Collect for Good Friday
O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I redeemed you from you from the house of bondage, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord. Micah 6:3-5.
Gracious and eternal God, look with mercy on this your family for which our lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed into the hands of his adversaries and to suffer death upon the cross. As we consider again the cross on which you died, help us to see and know your love for us. Help us to see the cost of your forgiveness so that we may be made new through your love. Amen.
Chapel Homily for Easter Day. The Conquest of Death
On Easter Sunday Christians around the world proclaim the most fantastic claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It strains our credulity to the limit. Throughout history, humans have tried with all possible resources and ingenuity both to deny and defy death. But only Christ has claimed to defeat it in his own experience and to rob it of its power over others.
In entertainment circles there is one comedian who openly expresses his fear and angst about death. Film maker Woody Allen regards death with terror. However, he is still able to joke about it by saying, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Allen calls death “absolutely stupefying.” Sadly, it’s the ultimate dreadful statistic, one out of one people die! Jesus Christ, however, rescues his followers from this horror. Some of the greatest sayings that Jesus said were the “I am” sayings. I believe the most powerful are these words that are always read out at Christian funeral services, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25 to 26). These wonderful verses contain a double promise from Jesus to the Christian.
Firstly, the believer who lives will never die, because Christ is his life and death will seem to him a trivial episode. Secondly, the believer who dies will live again because Christ is his resurrection.
It is because of these two truths, Jesus Christ is both the life of those who live and the resurrection of those who die. The wonderful Good News of Easter is that Christ transforms both life and death, thus bringing grace, joy and freedom into a person’s life.
I found this to be true for myself. Brought up in a home where Christianity was completely absent and at times mocked, I knew nothing of Jesus Christ nor his amazing claims. It was through the death of my own dear brother when I was in my early twenties, that began for me a search for an answer to the problem of death, suffering and sin. A close friend’s mother was a Christian and directed me to read one of the Gospels. I began researching the story of Jesus’ life and work for myself. I was attracted to the person of Jesus, especially to his answers to the problems of sin and death. I sought the counsel of a Baptist Pastor and after some initial conversations and times of prayer, I accepted Christ’s offer of the forgiveness of my sins and God’s free gift of eternal life. I experienced God’s powerful and cleansing love through the Holy Spirit and the waters of Baptism. Christ’s transforming life and love continue to sustain, strengthen and guide me on a daily basis.
The Sentence and Collect for Easter Day
Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Alleluia!
Jesus Christ our Saviour, you have delivered us from death and sin. You have brought with the dawn a new beginning and an empty tomb; grant us strength and humility to enter into life. You are life stronger than death; raise our eyes to see you as the new day dawns. Amen.