31 March Anno + Domini 2010
“Where I Am Going, You Cannot Come”
John 13:16-38 (Isaiah 62:11-63:7; Romans 5:6-11)
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Where I am going you cannot come.” Why not? Where are you going, Lord? Why can’t we come? We want to go with you. We want to be wherever you are. We love you. Please don’t tell us we can’t come. Please don’t depart from us. We want to follow You wherever you lead us.
Um, no, fellas, you really don’t. You do not want to go where Jesus is going. He is going to the cross. And, on His way to the cross, He must go through nothing short of torture. You really don’t want to follow Him on the journey He is about to make. The Via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows, is not desirous for you. You do not know what you’re saying.
Furthermore, you simply can’t go this way. It’s His way, and His way alone, to go. Only He can make this journey, for only He is perfect and free from sin. Only He can offer the perfect sacrifice pleasing to God. He is the unblemished Lamb of God, and only His perfect and innocent Body and Blood can make atonement for the sin of the world. You don’t want to go with Him and, even if you did, you can’t go with Him. This burden is His alone to bear. It’s why He came into the world, to die, at the appointed time, for the ungodly – to die, at the appointed time, for you!
Soon, very soon, you’ll understand. It will all be made clear to you and you’ll see why you couldn’t go with Jesus to the cross. In fact, it will be made so clear to you that you’ll be empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach Christ crucified to the world. And, even though you think your Lord is holding out on you now, you’ll understand later that His telling you that you could not go with Him was motivated by His deep love for you, for God shows His love for you (indeed, for the whole world) in that while you (and all people) were still sinners, Christ died for you (and all people).
Oh no, dear brothers, you can’t go with Jesus now. But, you will follow Him later. You, too, will one day travel the Via Dolorosa. Peter, you don’t know it, but you speak the truth. You will lay down your life for Jesus. So will your brothers with you. The blood you shed, and the death you die, however, will not make atonement for the sin of the world, nor even for your own sins. Only Jesus’ Blood does that. Your blood, your death, will simply bear witness to the Blood of the One who died in your place, for your sins. Your blood, your death, will serve to make the good confession of the faith and will stand as a testimony of your faith for all believers until the Last Day. Jesus will use your blood and your death to build His holy church which He establishes by His Blood and Death. So, you will get your wish, dear brothers, although not in the manner you suppose.
Dear friends in Christ, what is true for the disciples is true for you. You don’t want to go to
Calvary with Jesus, nor can you. More to the point, the Good News is that you don’t have to go that way. Jesus goes to the cross in your place. He goes so that you don’t have to go, so that you don’t have to pay the price necessary to atone for your sins and reconcile you to the Father, a price which would cost you an eternity in hell to pay. He goes to pay that price in full with His Body and Blood.
So it is that all who wish to supplement Jesus’ work on
Calvary with their own works to bring about their salvation make a mockery of His perfect, once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Anyone who believes that Jesus did His part and now it’s up to us to do our part is stuck in that upper room with those confused disciples on the night when our Lord was betrayed. They want to go with Jesus as He accomplishes our salvation. They fail to realize that Jesus came to accomplish our salvation in full all by His lonesome. And, what He came to do, He did. Our salvation is complete. It is finished! He did all the work necessary. It’s not our way to assist Him in this. We can’t. He must go this way alone. And so, He does.
Our way, then, is to follow in the footsteps of the disciples, making the good confession of the faith by clinging to Christ crucified for us with a steadfast willingness to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from the faith. Our way, dear friends, is to proclaim Christ crucified to all who will hear us that they, too, might receive the eternal blessings we have received through faith in Him. Our way is to love one another, just as He loved us, so that people will know that we are His disciples. Our way is to daily repent of our sinfulness, ever clinging in faith to the One who won forgiveness, life, and salvation for us with His sacrificial death on the cross in our place. Our way is to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). Our way, dear friends, is not to assist Jesus in our salvation, which is quite impossible, but to receive the salvation He accomplished for us and to live out that salvation in steadfast faith.
And, by the eternal blessings of grace upon grace, we are not left alone to live out our way in the Christian faith. Neither were the disciples. The same Lord Jesus who went the way of sorrows to the Cross in our place promises to be with us always. And so, He is. He is with us here in His holy house to forgive us, to feed us, to strengthen us, to preserve us, to empower us to maek the good confession, to fill us with His love, so that we might obey His command to love one another
Thus, we most certainly rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation; through whom we have access to the throne of grace; through whom we have become the people prophesied by Isaiah - the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord, privileged to receive the steadfast love of the Lord and to dwell in the great goodness of His holy house forever. All glory, honor, and praise be to God our Father, and to His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, now and forever. Amen.
Now the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.