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The Eternal Worship Service

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

John 18—19

History is filled with many religions. Worship goes hand in hand with religion. Prayers, praise, and sacrifices fill the worship of all the religions. It is always us looking up. Us always us attempting to get in the good graces of the divine being that is worshiped. The action always depends on us, on what we must do. And if we’re honest, it is always attempted according to what our desires are.

At the root of every religion is self-preservation. You do whatever it is that will preserve your life. Since no one wants to admit that they are utterly and irrevocably corrupt and without merit, religion always ends up appeasing not the divine being that is worshiped but ourselves.

The crucifixion of Jesus is a classic example. At every turn the apostle John describes the actions of people as self-preservation. Whether the betrayer, Judas Iscariot, or the other disciples, or the lowly servants that are mentioned, or the high and powerful religious leaders, or the even more powerful roman leaders, or the crowds that watched the spectacle of crucifixion, or the soldiers who carried it out.

At every turn there is the description of a worship service going on, people attempting to do whatever it is that will increase their lot in life. Not one person there looked upon the Lord being crucified and saw in Him the Lord of all creation and the only Savior from sin and death. Their worship was in the vein of Adam and Eve in the Garden who doubted God’s Word and trusted in themselves instead.

But the eternal worship service, the one that is not created by sinful human beings but by God Himself, has been brought down to earth. God’s eternal desire is that we take part in this eternal worship service and knew that we could never attain heaven by any of our efforts or worthiness. So God brought it down to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

What was occurring for six hours on the Friday Jesus was crucified was the eternal worship service. Those who looked up at Him as He hung limply on the cross unwittingly showed what true and eternal worship is. It is looking upon the one who is God in the flesh and crucified. By God’s grace alone and by the working of the Holy Spirit many of them afterward and many down through the centuries have since looked upon Him, the Lord who died on the cross for the sin of the world.

The eternal worship service is not God demanding of us to get in His good graces but God demanding of His Son judgment for sinners. The eternal worship service is as Paul says in the Epistle reading, God making Him to be sin for us who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. It is as Isaiah says in the Old Testament reading, in prophesying of Christ: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”

The crucifixion of Christ was the ultimate worship service, the cross the altar, the Lord Jesus the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sin of the world. This worship service is the eternal worship in which it is not the prayers or the actions of the people who made anything happen but the proclamation of Christ Himself on the cross: It is finished.

He spoke these words before He drew His last breath because in His suffering, in which Isaiah also says that “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” salvation was accomplished, completed. All had been done. All had been dealt with. There was nothing any more anyone could do. God did it all.

In the eternal worship service there is nothing to do but to look up at the one who suffered eternal damnation in our place. Nothing but to marvel at the blood and the water that streamed from His side and fills the fonts and the chalices of churches around the globe and across the centuries.

The water in which you were Baptized was water that flowed from His side because there is no time in the eternal worship service. When the soldier pierced the side of Jesus the water that streamed forth eternally washed you clean in your Baptism.

The blood that flowed from His side flows eternally into the cup of the Lord’s Supper and goes into your mouth and you drink of the very blood that was shed for your sins.

There is nothing for you to do but marvel at the one God sent. He sent Him to die and that is because He wants to draw you into His eternal worship service.

You know what you will see when you are in heaven? You will see the Lord who was crucified. When you look at His hands you will see the scars from the nails. When you look at His side you will see the scar where it was pierced. He is forever the Lord who was sacrificed at the altar of Calvary. He is the risen and living Lord to be sure.

But the eternal worship service never is worship apart from the Lord whose greatest glory was to suffer on the cross and die for the sin of the world. It is His greatest glory because in this eternal worship service is the love of the eternal God for sinners. For you. Amen.