April 18, 2014
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 23:44-46
"What Shall I do with Jesus? - Die with Him!"
Luke 23:44-46 (NIV 1984) “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
“What shall I do with Jesus?” is a question we have asked seven times already during the season of Lent. Today as we gather to commemorate our Savior’s death we ask it again. What shall I do with Jesus? On Good Friday what other answer can there be than, “Die with Him.” Jesus truly died. Luke gives us some details. He draws our attention first to the three hours of darkness that had covered the whole land for the sun had stopped shining. Now how God did that we do not know. What’s more important is the message God sent. Sin is serious. And the wages of sin is death. Only the one dying here isn’t the sinners. It’s His one and only Son. But there was more. The curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Now you have to know a little something about the Temple and how it was set up and why. God had the Temple built in Jerusalem to be a gathering place to worship Him. It was also a teaching tool that was filled with symbolism, more than we can talk about now. But we can talk about that curtain. The Temple itself had two real rooms, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, also called the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place which was about two thirds of the building had the Altar of Incense and the Table for the Shewbread. The priests who represented the people could go there regularly. The Most Holy Place was a perfect cube because it represented God most Holy. In it was the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest could only enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the great day of Atonement. The ongoing message was clear. God is holy. Most holy. You can’t be with Him, you can’t see Him until sin is paid for. The Temple curtain was the separator. Now it’s gone. Torn in two. New message? Sin has been paid for in full. Full access to God. That was the mission Jesus had been sent on. His mission was over. Finished. So he committed his spirit to His heavenly father and he died.
Now what shall we do with Jesus? Die with Him. Brothers and sister, there are three ways we can think about doing that. First that we have already died with Him. The Apostle Paul reminds us of that in his letter to the Romans when he wrote in chapter 6:1-4, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” There it is. We died with Him. As we sing about in a little bit, we were there on Calvary. Jesus carried us with Him. All of our sins on Him were laid. Your baptism connects you to Jesus. His death to pay for sin is your death to pay for sin. He is your substitute. The wages of your sin is death and your wages are paid in full. We died with Him.
And in a sense we to need to keep dying with Him. Paul went on a little later in Romans 6. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” While the wages of sin are already paid for us we still have to fight sinful desires. Paid in full isn’t a reason to keep sinning. It’s our reason to stop, to fight and we do that as we keep dying with Jesus on a daily basis. That happens when we consider ourselves dead to sin. That means not wanting sin to be a part of our lives. That happens when we say “No” to our sinful desires and following our desires to please Jesus instead. That’s how we keep dying with Jesus.
Finally we will die with Him. Maybe you have had someone very close to you die. Maybe it worked for you that you knew their death was imminent and you did your best to be with them at the hospital or a hospice home. Why did you want to be with them? The most common reason people give is, “I didn’t want him to die alone. I didn’t want her to die alone.” But the believer in Jesus is never alone. When we die we get to die with Jesus. He’s right there for us. Listen to what happened when a New Testament Christian named Stephen died. “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Stephen was not alone when he died. Jesus was with him. Jesus received His Spirit. Maybe some of you have seen the picture of Jesus welcoming the sinner into heaven with the “I’ve been waiting for you” hug. Believers don’t die alone. They die with Jesus. Has God made it clear that your time is coming sooner rather than later? Are you now attending to a loved one who is dying? Comfort them. Tell them the truth. Because Jesus died for you, you get to die with Him. When Jesus comes you get to go.
You know when we started our Lenten journey with the question “What shall I do with Jesus?” we noted that the original asker of that question was really being foolish. Pilate had no power over Jesus. We don’t either. We just respond to what He has done for us. A better question may have been asked by Jesus of us. What shall I do with these sinners? Die for them. Because I love them. Amen.