As we journey to the cross, let us consider the mercy of God. The Father sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, rescued, redeemed, liberated from death, and reconciled and restored to the Father. This is the mercy of the Father: because of His love for us, He sends and offers up His Son. And this is the mercy of the Son: because He shares that same love for us, He willingly and freely lets Himself be man-handled, offered up, and killed for our benefit. Nothing stands in the way of this mercy of God—not the machinations of the Jews; not the betrayal of Judas; not the denial of Peter; not the threats and assaults of Satan. Nothing prevents the Father from offering up His Son, and nothing prevents the Son from carrying out His Father’s gracious plan. At no point does the Father consider withholding His Son; and at no point does the Son work to avoid His cross.
In fact, so great is the mercy of the Father, and so relentless is the love of the Son, that our Lord Jesus spends nearly all of His time with those who reject Him most: with the scribes and Pharisees, with the reluctant and recalcitrant Jews. He does not run or hide from them, but continues to engage them in disputation, not because He loves a good argument; not because He wishes to expose their blasphemy; but because He loves them with a love that will not quit, a love that will do whatever it takes to win them over.
Yet they accuse, indict, try, and convict Him of sin. Jesus, who knew no sin; Jesus, who is the sinless Son of the Father—they have the nerve and arrogance to accuse Him: “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” And we are like them: accusing Him in our moments of need of not caring for us; accusing Him of looking on in amusement as we suffer. If He were like us, long ago He would have thrown up His hands and said, “To hell with you all.” “The Shepherd dies for sheep who love to wander.” And if He were like us, He would have turned His back on them. If He were like us, long ago He would have said, “It’s hopeless. Your minds are made up.” If He were like us, He would have blocked them on Facebook.
But Love doesn’t speak or work that way. Love is patient and kind. Love endures and suffers all for the sake of another. And Love is willing to endanger His life in order to save the soul of another. There our Lord Jesus stands. He kindly, gently, mercifully, lovingly speaks the truth to the Jews—not to spite them, but to love them back to His Father. He once again invites them to Himself and tries to win them over with a most gracious and simple promise: “I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death.” No finer words have ever been spoken. They demand nothing except to follow Our Lord in the works of His Law and in the ways of His commandments—and even these commandments flow from the mercy of God.
Our Lord Jesus invites those who wish He would leave; those who seek to run Him out; those who want to kill Him. Once again He urges them to quit their fears and to follow Him, as true spiritual children follow their true spiritual Father. He comes, not to brow-beat or threaten, not to make us submit, but to submit Himself for our sake so that we might see and know and believe that He is truly the mercy of God and the love of God. He has come in the flesh to bear our sin. He comes to us in flesh so that we might feast on Him and receive the fullness of Life, which we receive only from Him. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.