2 Apr 2022
The Gospel. St. John viii. 46.
Jesus said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
Today, on Passion Sunday, we enter the final two weeks of Lent, which the Church has named "Passiontide." Just as His death on the cross was the door through which Jesus Christ had to go to come to His glorious resurrection, we must pass through Christ’s passion and walk the way of the cross with Him to enter into Easter.
In the Gospel, the Jews again accuse Jesus of being possessed. He denies their charge and adds that if He said that He would not truly know the Father. It is all too easy these days for Christians, out of false humility, to allow themselves to be pushed out of moral leadership in our society. In the place of Christian spokespersons come a host of self-confident people who speak in ignorance on moral issues. Today, everything is dragged down to the lowest common denominator for people who have had little chance to think clearly on what’s at stake. Often churches themselves have been guilty of forgetting the moral treasures we as Christians are required to defend.
“Father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Unlike contemporary society today or the Jews in Jesus’ time, He knew that all of mankind’s hopes and fears and dreams and longings found fulfillment in Him and what He had set out to do as the Father commanded.
Because Jesus of Nazareth is God, the Eternal Son of the Father in heaven, and because He is the Christ, the Anointed One, the promised Messiah come to save the world, He must die. He will die because He is rejected and despised by those who are the slaves of this fallen world and its prince.
Today’s Epistle leaves no doubt about the significance of that death. All of the sacrifices for sin in the Old Testament had a single purpose: to point to Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, there is no more need for sin offerings. The Blood of Christ can do what no animal sacrifice could do—cleanse us forever from our sins and give us a new and eternal life in God’s service.
And while we do not offer sacrifice for sin today, we do offer what we call in our Prayer Book "sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving". By these sacrifices we say, "We thank you, Father, for giving us a Savior and a new life that we did not deserve and could not obtain on our own. We offer our own lives, the new lives that you have given us, not as a sacrifice for sin, but out of gratitude for our salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ."
L. R. Tarsitano—Saint Andrew's Church, Savannah
Passion Sunday—April 9, 2000
Bishop Edwin Tompkins