In his March 30 Holy Week message to Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod church workers and congregations, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison acknowledges that “the world must surely think we’ve lost our marbles” when the horror of Good Friday — when Jesus was nailed to the cross — is referenced this way in the liturgy: “We adore You, O Lord, and we praise and glorify Your resurrection. For behold, by the wood of the cross joy has come into all the world.”
“How true!” Harrison writes. “On that day of deepest darkness, humankind finally got its hands on God. We grabbed hold of God in the flesh, nailed Him to a tree and told Him to get out of our world and leave us ‘the hell’ alone. To this day, our every sin still demands the same — to be left alone in hell. Not much cause for joy there.
“Ah, but even more true, on that day of deepest darkness, our God was loving the world, loving you and me and all who fail Him again and again. He was loving us by giving His only Son into that horrid death so that our hate-filled, violent, rebellious race might be pardoned and given a life without end in His kingdom.”
Just like the story of Joseph in Genesis (“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive,” Gen. 50:20), “hence the miracle of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter!” Harrison notes.
“It’s true that we meant it for evil. But God Himself was at work through it all, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us as He made Him who had no sin to be sin for us. And come resurrection morn, He proclaims to all the world that its sins are forgiven, forgotten, gone! The resurrection cries out: ‘His sacrifice has been accepted — for you and for all. So rejoice!’ ”
Harrison adds that “through the wood of the cross, joy truly has come into all the world: the joy of sins’ forgiveness, death’s defeat, love’s unconquerable triumph. The cross is our God saying: “You can’t make Me hate you! I love you and forgive you in the blood of My precious Son!”
The president also encourages church workers, who are busy serving their congregations during Holy Week: “Don’t forget to savor the joy of the cross yourself — to join the people of God in kneeling before the Crucified One who yet lives, who still is the master of working all things (including suffering and hardship) to bring blessing to His own, and who will surely appear again in glory.”
And he asks them to pray for him, assuring them that he also holds them close in prayer.
To read the president’s entire Holy Week message, click here.
Posted March 30, 2015