Christ through whom we now are blessed
knew no evil doing.
Him at night they did arrest
like a thief pursuing.
Led before the godless throng
falsely was convicted.
Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon,
As the Word predicted.
As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. –John 13:30
Introduction: In his St. John Passion J. S. Bach paints for us a picture of the arrest of Jesus which will trigger a series of events. These events will bring about the greatest travesty of justice – yet, at the same time will usher in the greatest demonstration of the Father’s love and faithfulness; faithfulness to His promise, faithfulness to His fallen children. For us; to receive the Father’s pardon, the Son of Man would have to be arrested, tried, crucified and killed.
Following the Passover celebration Jesus’ disciples sang a hymn. As they departed from the upper room - it was night. Christ the sinless Son of God is about to suffer for the crimes and sins of men.
I. “Christ through whom we now are blessed - knew no evil doing.”
A. In Christ we truly are blessed.
1. Blessed to know Him, blessed to be known by Him.
2. Blessed to have a relationship with Him.
3. Blessed to be brought into His family – the Church.
B. We are blessed because of Christ the sinless Son of God.
1. He knew no sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2. Yet He became sin for us. “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
3. He became a curse for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE "--
4. That we might become the righteousness of God through Him. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord’.”
Transition: Christ the perfect holy Son of God blesses us. Our blessing came at the time of Jesus’ arrest when it was night.
II. “Him at night they did arrest - like a thief pursuing.”
A. His arrest happened at night. “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
1. His arrest happened at night when the crowds who had come for the Passover festival would not so easily witness His arrest.
2. They arrested Jesus at night so they could hold a quick and speedy trial.
B. Like a thief they pursued Him.
1. How ironic – He who had committed no treachery becomes a wanted man; a thief, a criminal, a villain, a man they must pursue.
2. The enemies of the Christ will stop at nothing at having Him eliminated. It was necessary for this to happen they would argue. It was necessary for one man to die for the nation. “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. The leadership had had their fill – He must be eliminated.
Transition: Having made His arrest His trial is set.
III. “Led before the godless throng - falsely was convicted.”
A. Christ was convicted falsely.
1. Two witnesses came forward. “Many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”
2. Finally, the High Priest came forward and charged Him. “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.”
B. These leaders stirred up the crowd for a conviction of convenience. It served their end.
1. “Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
2. “So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Pilate said “I find no fault in this man.”
3. But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
Transition: Having achieved their goal of a conviction the council will send Jesus to His death – But first He must be handed to the guard.
IV. “Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon, - as the Word predicted.”
A. The guard will make sport of Him.
1. They want to publicly humiliate Him. “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.”
2. They want so show their utter contempt for Him. “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
B. This was all predicted for us in Sacred Scripture.
1. “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
2. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth…”
3. “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”.
Conclusion: After the Last Supper, events in our Lord’s life moved rapidly-- His prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, arrest, mock trial, painful beating, the trudge to Golgotha and execution. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” The events of Golgotha snuffed out the human life of Jesus, the Light of the World, as even creation was dark when He suffered.
Jesus, the innocent victim is sentenced to death – a death He did not deserve – yet a death He will bear for your salvation. In this most blessed Sacrament which He instituted before His arrest you receive the tokens of His sacrifice – His body, broken - His blood, shed - that you might receive absolution and clemency for your offenses. O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-ohzLP7Zew