Jesus’ Life Has Purchased Life for You
Rev. Kurt Lantz Good Friday 2nd Article
April 02, 2021 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON
The Catechism is the Christian’s Guide through life, even life in a pandemic. Throughout the special services during Lent and Holy Week we have seen that the Catechism has quite a lot of guidance to give as we live through this time of pestilence and the various ways in which it has threatened our lives. Not only have we been threatened with death from the horrible physical effects of the virus itself, but also our relationships to one another have suffered. We have had to cut off contact with family and friends and have wondered how we might continue to show them love and care. We have had questions about our relationship to governing authorities who impose restrictions on our daily activities. Our life with God has been affected as we have had to face the reality that there is risk in doing the very things He has called us to do in gathering together to receive His Word and Sacraments.
The guidance that our Catechism has been able to provide for us has been helpful in pointing out what we should and should not do—what we should be sure to continue to do, especially in a time when our lives are threatened by disease and a whole host of sins appear as we respond to the fear within ourselves and in our society. The Catechism has also reminded us of who our God is and what He has done and continues to do in order to sustain and bless our lives. He not only created us, but also continues to preserve us by lovingly answering our prayers and giving us all that we need for this body and life and life everlasting. With the help of the Catechism we remember not merely to thank Him, but to trust Him, that is, to live day by day in faith that He will save us; and, indeed, in faith that He already has.
And so, on this Good Friday, let us turn to the Catechism again to recite together what is summarized for us in the Apostles’ Creed
The Second Article
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord,
who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,
that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness,
just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
This is most certainly true.
No matter how familiar you may be with the words, they have not automatically come to mind each and every time you have been confronted with some aspect of life during the pandemic. Our sinful nature leads us away from the Gospel truth to look to ourselves rather than to look to Christ. And the devil certainly does not want us to meditate on these precious words which so simply and beautifully summarize the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ for us. The society in which we live has not seen fit to broadcast repeated reminders of this doctrine for our health and welfare?
Do these words have anything to do with our health and welfare, or is it just church stuff which has little impact on our physical lives in this physical world? A lot of these words seem to be talking about very physical stuff. Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. Birth is a very physical thing, isn’t it, especially for a virgin? So the conception must have been a physical thing as well, even if accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And how much more physical can it get than the events that we commemorate on this very day. “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” Can the Gospel of our salvation get any more physical and down to earth? This is not church stuff as opposed to the physical world. This is a much needed reminder for us that church stuff is not separated from the physical world. Church stuff is grounded and founded on the physical suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: true God begotten from eternity, yes, but also true man born of the Virgin Mary.
He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. And this is very physical stuff as well. For He purchased and won me with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. Blood is physical stuff. I have over two hundred blood donations that testify to it every second week. And there is a cancer patient that is currently paired with me who knows that blood is a very physical thing too. My blood cannot do too much. It keeps me alive, and what I am able to donate helps others to combat sickness and live. It is a very physical, real world, down to earth thing.
No less, then, is the blood of Jesus which has purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross was the real physical blood of true God who became true man for you. The blood of Jesus that flowed out from His pierced side was real physical blood when He was stuck with the soldier’s spear. We recite from the Catechism, which summarizes what is written in the gospels, which John saw with his own physical eyes. “He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe” (John 19:35).
And the physicality does not stop with the crucifixion and death of Jesus, but it continues to be clearly stated in the rest of the Creed. “The third day He rose again from the dead.” That is physical, bodily resurrection. “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” That is physical too. The disciples saw Him go up until the clouds hid Him from their sight (Acts 1:9). “From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.” That is also physical: His coming, and the living and the dead to whom He comes.
He has purchased and won you from sin, death, and the power of the devil, with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, all very physical. Why would you think then, that this has no effect on your physical life now and the current threat that is imposed by this pandemic. For He did this very physical act of redemption so that you might live, “live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness,” just as He is physically risen from the dead, lives and reigns physically to all eternity. The life to which He has ransomed you is a physical life, here in time and extending into eternity. The redemption that He has provided for you is very much about you living your physical life here and now, not only in the hereafter.
Jesus Christ suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again from the dead so that you may live, now, physically, here in His kingdom. He has conquered sin, death, and the devil for you for this life which He has graciously extended for you to eternity without all of the things which threaten this present physical life of yours.
This is where Christianity far excels other religions. It is in the physical nature of it all. It is not just about feelings and philosophy. It is not just about principles and positivity. It is about physical life that is threatened by death on account of our sins. It is about His physical victory over this death. After all, what other victory could there be over death if not physical? This is very much about your physical life now and lasting forever.
Isaiah prophesied, “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4). Those stripes were physical stripes left across His back by the scourging that Pilate commanded and the Roman soldiers administered by whipping your Lord across the back with bits of metal and bone tearing out His flesh. Just as those stripes were physical, so is the healing that they provide for you. “With His stripes you are healed.” You are healed of physical disease, suffering, ailment, and death.
It is the gift of life now and everlasting. It is healing for body and soul. As it heals you by the forgiveness of sins, it gives to you the life that your sins have threatened to take away. It heals the curse of death that has spread throughout the world. It will be fully realized when our Lord returns in physical glory, but it is yours even now as you face the threats to your physical life. The Catechism reminds us that in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have healing for life.