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Sunday, February 22, 2015

02222015 Invocavit - First Sunday in Lent (Lent 1)

Sermon Audio

February 22, 2015
All about words…
Holy God, ruler of all, we come before you during this Lenten season to not only learn more about Jesus last words from the Cross, but speak them ourselves.  For Jesus clearly spoke out of love for You.  And His task was to fulfill Your plan for all of mankind.  Enable us to embrace Jesus Words and emulate them in our daily life as we demonstrate for others our commitment to Your plan of salvation.  AMEN.

“Sticks and stones, may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  In schools across our nation many children have been taught this phrase when bullies and kids who are just plain mean hurl insults, not only at the kids sitting in the same seats, but also at the teachers and others in authority.  As we journey through Lent this year we will be hearing Words and phrases from Jesus Christ.  Unlike the bullies, Jesus Words that we will be hearing are the “Words from the Cross”.  Jesus words are a fulfillment of prophecy and for our spiritual edification during Lent.  Jesus words are simply to teach us to what degree, Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself in order for us to be with Him in His Kingdom.  The first phrase we will ponder today is from Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” 

Clearly this phrase in 11 simple words clearly articulates what Jesus wanted for all of mankind, including the soldiers who had in the last 24 hours beaten Him, scourged Him, mocked Him and ultimately had nailed Him to the Cross.  Jesus was declaring what they in fact didn’t deserve, but what He was willing to give them.  Why would Jesus ask His Father to forgive them?  These men who had humiliated Him, stripped Him of all human decency and clearly made His life a living Hell.  Were those men acting on their own?  Or were those men merely puppets and pawns?

Jesus own words reveal what Jesus was willing to do, ‘forgive them’, even in the face of evil.  These men were instruments of evil.  Their actions were the most heinous, but in all actuality had a divine purpose not only in mind, but fulfilled in Jesus being nailed to the Cross.  The purpose was in order that Jesus would suffer the worse fate of any man, ask God to forgive them and all of mankind and to die for all of mankind, including you and me.

The fate Jesus endured was what we deserve.  But Jesus Christ was willing to endure the torture, pain and humiliation for you and for me because of His love for us.  In these 11 words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”, we hear Jesus Christ plea, not just for the men who inflicted the pain upon Jesus, but for the pain we inflict upon Jesus daily when we sin.  Jesus suffered and was nailed to the cross not just by the men who drove the nails, beat Him and mocked Him, but by each and every one of us who gather here today.  What keeps Jesus on the Cross of Calvary is not the mere mortal nails driven into the wood, but our sins that hold Jesus to the Cross.  Our daily transgressions, our words that inflict the pain of broken relationships and show sin in our lives, whether to our friends, family or even here in the church by our attitude or feelings of superiority or self-indulgent righteousness.

But Jesus Christ through these words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”, that we hear from the Cross of Calvary offers each and every one of us gathered here today true forgiveness.  Jesus Christ in the most powerful way offers us the forgiveness of sins, by His simple declaration.  It is a declaration first proclaimed in the hearing of and for the men who nailed Him to the Cross, and today it is proclaimed for each of us gathered here who hear those simple 11 words.

Jesus Christ in true humility and service, declares all of mankind, including each and every one of us gathered here today, “Not Guilty”.  We are forgiven for our sins.  God through the life of Jesus Christ endured the worst of mankind, in order to offer us the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ could offer with His life.  We who gather here today who hear Jesus Words of forgiveness are offered the greatest gift of life and salvation by Jesus simple declaration of forgiveness.  Jesus Christ came and offers us today the true forgiveness of sins and life and salvation for all of mankind, including each and every one of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on this first Sunday in Lent who hear, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  AMEN.

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