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The Rev. William Klock: “At the Cross” (Sermon for Good Friday)

April 24, 2011

From Fr. Bill Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia, here is a sermon for Good Friday that I have titled At the Cross.  This sermon is based on Hebrews 10:1-25 and John 19:1-37, and Fr. Bill here states very well what Jesus did for us on the Cross:

When Jesus breathed his last and cried out, “It is finished,” it was finished.  Whereas in the old covenant the priest laid the sins of the people on the bulls and goats sacrificed repeatedly on the altar, Jesus, our great High Priest, took our sins upon himself and died the death that we deserved.  The old sacrifices were imperfect.  First, they were just brute animals, and second, those animals didn’t offer their lives willingly.  But in the shed blood of Christ we find perfection—God Incarnate shed his own blood and he did of his own free will.  For that reason, there’s no longer any need for more sacrifices.  Jesus did it once and for all.  The old covenant called for the sinner to humbly lay his sins on that animal sacrifice, but that bull or that goat on the altar of the Temple was a sign given by God—it was God’s finger pointing to Jesus Christ—pointing to the Cross. No more do we bring an annual sacrifice to the Temple; now the humble sinner need only trust in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

When Jesus breathed his last and gave himself up to God, the Temple served its last function in redemptive history.  Under the old covenant the Holy of Holies—the Most Holy Place—was where the presence of God resided visibly for the people, resting on the Ark of the Covenant.  And yet the people weren’t allowed into that place—into the direct presence of God.  Only the High Priest was allowed there and then only once a year.  No sinful human being could enter the presence of God and the priest only did it to make an annual sacrifice for sins—and he did so only after a series of purification rituals for himself.  Nobody went there, because sinners can never enter the presence of a holy, just, and righteous God without standing condemned.

But when Jesus made his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross that day—as he breathed his last and pronounced, “It is finished”—the heavy veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the people was torn in two from top to bottom.  By his death, Jesus Christ opened the way into the presence of the Father.  Through Jesus Christ sinners can find perfect forgiveness and can now enter the presence of our holy, just, and righteous God uncondemned.

What a wonder this is – and here is a familiar hymn that says this so well:

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