April 6, 2012
“The Perfect Day”
Hebrews 9:11-12, 15, 27-28; John 19:30
If you got to design your own perfect day, what would it look like? Maybe it would start by finding out you won the Mega Millions lottery. Then you’d spend the day at Disney World having fun with your family, and finish it all off with your favorite meal and favorite dessert. There would be no pain, sadness or stress. It would be the best of all your fondest memories all rolled up into one, right? The perfect day. A fantasy, but something most of us have day dreamed about once or twice.
Some may think it strange that we Christians call this day, “Good Friday”. For it would appear to be anything but good. In fact, the account we hear from the Gospels paints a picture of the very worst day one could imagine. Betrayal, insult, dishonor. Bitter blows that come one after the other, as Jesus is run through the mill of shame trials, public humiliations, physical and emotional torture, and an unjust sentence of death. The sour wine that he tasted at the last moment was part and parcel of this whole bitter day.
But we do not see as the world sees. We Christians see it all through the eyes of faith – faith in his words – which paint a far different picture. And through such a lens, we can say that today is not only a good day, but a perfect day. Let us meditate on our Lord’s death, this Good Friday, this Perfect Friday.
It was a good day when God created Adam. All of creation was good, but with Adam God declared it, “very good”. But then with Eve, Adam sinned. And what was once very good became very broken. The image of God in which Adam was created – no longer a perfect image, but marred by sin. The creation which God had placed under Adam’s care, no longer a paradise but a patch of thorns and a place of pain. Not nearly as good as it was. Sin made things and people go terribly wrong, and decay and even die.
Since then, death has reigned. Pain in childbirth and pain in daily work, thorns and thistles are just the start of it. Each of us faces the same fate. Let today be a reminder. You will die.
But for Adam and Eve there was a seed of hope, and so also for us. The seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. The offspring of the woman would come and make it right. Where Adam went wrong, the Second Adam Jesus Christ, would once and for all secure eternal redemption. Perfection would be restored.
Our reading from Hebrews provides a commentary on just what Jesus meant when he said, from the cross, “it is finished”. It shows Jesus as the High Priest of the New Covenant, in contrast to the old. There, the priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year to pay for the sins of the people, by the blood of an animal sacrifice. But on the cross, Jesus our High Priest, deals with all sin, by his own blood, once and for all, and he does so perfectly.
When we hear the word, “perfect”, we often think of it as meaning, “without sin”. We say things like, “O well, nobody’s perfect” (except for Jesus, of course). But here, the perfection of Good Friday is something else. It is a perfection of completion. It means God’s master plan of salvation is done, finished in Christ. It is finished. It is.. perfect.
It’s perfect because of who it is that pays the price – the perfect, spotless lamb without blemish. He who had no sin. The only offering that could suffice. A more noble sacrifice than all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain. But this isn’t just a perfect man, this is also the Son of God. And there is nothing more precious than He. No offering more perfect.
Every jot and tittle of prophecy is fulfilled by him. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. Dogs surround me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I thirst. They divide my garments among them. A man of sorrows, stricken, smitten and afflicted. Everything is perfect.
Every last bit of sin is covered. No evil thought, no hurtful word, no dark misdeed now stands. It’s all washed away in the holy precious blood and the innocent suffering and death.
From the thief to the murderer, the liar and scoundrel. Every criminal and rebel. The mother who aborts her own child, the husband who defiles his marriage. The old woman and her years of gossip, the old man his head full of sinful pride. The thoughtless sins, the purposeful sins, the downright mean words and actions. The selfishness, greed, the lust and perversion. Don’t forget the sins we rationalize away as something good. The log in our eye as well as the speck in theirs. Even the things that we should be doing and should have done that didn’t get done because we forgot or were too lazy or had some other excuse.
All of this. Completely, fully, totally… wiped away. On this good day. On this perfect day. At the cross.
The divine liturgy of the execution of God’s judgment is complete. And it is perfectly done, by the perfect priest, who makes a completely perfect sacrifice. It is finished.
So, forgiven sinner, your perfect day isn’t winning the lottery and going to Disney World. Your perfect day, is Good Friday. The day that Jesus did all things perfectly for you. The day that Jesus declared, “it is finished” for you. Your salvation is complete, even perfect, in Him. And an eternal inheritance is yours. Amen.