“I am weak, but Thou art strong”

“From Passover to Trial”

9 April 2000 sermon

Text: Mark 14:12-15:15

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            This week we will be exploring the stupendous weakness of the human race; it’s total inadequacy, unaided by God, to save itself.  What we will learn will help us understand the question put by the psalmist in Psalm 2:

                       

                        Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing.

 

Most of us don’t need much help getting in touch with that rage if we pause to think about the violence in our society, school shootings, cultic murders, corruption in high places—that is where we start today.  But most basically, it is a vain thing to think that we can manage ourselves without divine intervention, divine strengthening.  We are profoundly and deeply incapable when we are out of relationship with God; it is God who makes us capable, strong, pure and righteous!              Truly, we must each cry out lift up our eyes unto the hills; from whence shall our help come?    . . . (even) from the Lord which made the heavens and the earth . . . who neither slumbers, nor sleeps . . . he shall preserve us from all evil, he shall preserve our souls.  The Lord shall preserve our going out and our coming in from this time forward and even forever.  Psalm 121: 1,2, 4, 7 & 8.  Returning to Psalm 2, we continue:

 

                        The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel

            together, against the Lord, and against his anointed saying Let us break

            their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.

 

Here we are to read the plot of the priests and scribes to trick and murder Jesus.  They took counsel together both against God and against God’s anointed.  They were seeking to escape the Lord’s moral and spiritual constraints, deliberating choosing to disobey God’s command: Thou shalt not murder.  The Law was there to compel righteousness so in rejecting Jesus, they also rejected the Law.  They proved depraved, weak and rebellious.  In other words, they were just like us!  That just like us prior to our redemption, or salvation.

 

                The redeemed of the Lord will not behave so wickedly.  We will depend on God.  We will voluntarily seek God’s strengthening to help us continue to overcome our indigenous weakness which, if not dealt with spiritually, may develop into folly and rebellion!

 

                Three figures mediate the account before us: Judas, Peter, and Jesus.  All three participate in the dramatic confrontation between God and human weakness, a struggle unto the death which requires the sacrifice of the “lamb without blemish” to turn us from certain death to certain victory.  The first figure, Judas is defeated and destroyed because he was mastered by his weakness.  The second, Peter, is tried by his weakness; he falls but recovers and is actually strengthened.  The third figure, Jesus, when overwhelmed by His weaknesses (tempted in every way as we are, but was without sin—Hebrews 4:15) mastered them through obedient submission to God, our Father.

 

                Road map

 

            Our itinerary this morning will explore the challenges posed by human weakness for the person seeking to live righteously.  We begin with the avarice of Judas, the covetousness addressed in the tenth commandment.  Not mastering these temptations is what eventually turned him into the pathetic pawn of Satan.

 

            God initiated man’s deliverance in the history of Israel through events celebrated in the Passover festival.  It is God’s desire that we should become a royal priesthood and a holy nation.  Progress towards these divine goals is repeatedly diverted by the stupendous weakness and the fundamental incapacity of man, unassisted by God, to master himself.  It is at Jesus’ last Passover that Jesus announces that Judas will betray him.

 

            Jesus plainly explains that He is to be put to death.  This is where our second figure, that of Peter, enters the picture.  He overestimates his faith and his mastery of his own personal weakness.  He declares that he will never fall away only to learn that he will repeatedly deny Jesus before the day is out.  But, turning back to God, Peter, though he falls, is eventually strengthened and restored.

 

            Next we find ourselves headed for the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus will pray His way through the challenges of His human weakness.  This victory is won through great travail and earnest prayer.  We will reflect on some of what Jesus faced in that difficult hour before turning at last to the dynamics which surrounded Jesus’ arrest and led up to His mockery of a trial.

 

***

 

Our narrative picks up where Judas, out of weakness and a desire to control his circumstances, has agreed with the priests and scribes to betray Jesus, the Christ, the One, with whom Judas was an intimate, close friend.  The prodigious and amazingly stupid reason that Judas decided to do this heinous betrayal was supposedly the expense of the ointment that Mary expended in blessing Jesus by pouring spikenard over His head.  She was also preparing His body for burial, as Jesus declares (v.8) and symbolically she announces Him to be King of Kings, and so, King of Israel.  Her gesture proclaimed royalty.  Two things may be said about this.  First, let’s suppose that Judas truly was offended by the expense.  In this he may well represent, as a forerunner, an advocate of the social gospel.  Social gospel people believe that Christianity is best promoted by doing good, by exercising fiscal responsibility, by extending financial and emotional assistance to the needy.  So we use recycled paper in our Sunday School curriculum and design them with tired, but inexpensive illustrations.  Here’s one problem with this social gospel approach.  While what we communicate to ourselves is good stewardship, the release of monies to go towards missions, we are not communicating that to others.  While we gain in house, we simultaneously lose in outreach: the opportunity to say through paper stock, prose, print and graphics that we want to communicate with you.  And, furthermore, what we have to communicate is vitally important—so we care enough to cost the formatting that says, by quality presentation and content we want you to know this!  A great curriculum simply costs money to produce.

 

  The second thing we ought to say is that probably, on a theological level, it was the king thing that really got to Judas.  Jesus tried for years to correct the mistaken idea that the Messiah would be a political figure, a King just like King David.  Jesus wanted them to know that His Kingdom had to do with the rule of God in human hearts!  Judas probably never mastered this lesson.  However, however these two things may finally sort themselves out: scripture plainly asserts that Judas was a thief.  He was addicted to avarice (covetousness—which is addressed in the tenth commandment).  He was greedy.  So the root of Judas’ betrayal lay in the personal sin of avarice.  That Judas could do this exposes to our sight the utter blindness and passion of selfish, wicked desires.  Note how powerful these seductions are.  They fascinate the mind, inflame the passions and bring the whole person into bondage.  The long practice of even petty thievery had hardened Judas into wickedness.  Suddenly, in his passionate denunciation of Mary’s act, Judas is exposed—his wicked motivations are laid bare.  The reaction to this unanticipated shame is typically either denial, blame shifting and/or fury.  In desperation Judas violently sought to vindicate himself by turning against Jesus.  In a way, Satan may have entered Judas at the painful point of pride—something we can all sadly relate to.

 

            Luke expressly says Satan entered him.  Judas was already the slave of Satan.  But what happens here is intensification.  Satan tries to drive us every day, just as He drove Judas, to sins and crimes.  He hurries us along in courses of extra-ordinary wickedness seeking to develop momentum.  His final design is to enter the reprobate, take possession of all their senses, overthrow moral constraints and the fear of God, extinguish the light of reason, and annihilate all feelings of shame.  This extremity of vengeance from God is executed only on those who have already devoted themselves to destruction.  Such persons are tyrannized; they are subjected to their ruling passions until they resemble nothing so much as an enraged, caged animal!  Judas’ besetting sin was avarice, love of money, and love of what money can secure: possessions, power and sensual satisfactions.  Paul rightly asserts (1 Tim. 6:9-10) that avarice (greed, covetousness, love of silver) is the root of all evils.  On this matter John Calvin wrote:

 

We ought rather to consider how fearfully monstrous it is, that men formed after the image of God, and appointed to be temples for the Holy Spirit, should not only be

            turned into filthy stables and sinks, but should become the wretched abodes of Satan.

 

            Here, in microcosm, is a statement of the whole human problem.  The rest of the passion narrative is about the divine redress, or remedy of mankind’s desperate situation.

 

            The first remedy is the remedy of the Passover.  Clearly, this ancient religious festival highlighted the deliverance of God’s people out of the hopelessness of their Egyptian captivity.  It was a type for the deliverance yet to come in the fullness of time: deliverance from man’s captivity to sin.  This particular year it would appear that the date for Passover fell on a Friday, not Saturday, or the weekday Sabbath.  This would make the day of preparation for the Passover fall on Thursday—the day running from the sunset of Wednesday to sunset on Thursday with Jesus being crucified on the day that lambs were slain in preparation for the feast.  It was publicly acceptable to celebrate the Passover on the weekend Sabbath when it fell on Fridays, but those who followed the Law strictly would not go along with this convention of convenience.  Jesus probably followed the latter course, meaning that He celebrated it on time but a full day earlier than others might have done so.  He would be in the tomb when the latter celebration transpired.  Jesus would be in the tomb fulfilling His first day in the tomb as prophesied.

 

            How specifically is Passover God’s partial remedy to the human dilemma?  Well, it was the beginning and not the completing of God’s dealings with the Hebrews and later the Jews as His Chosen People.  After the long hiatus between the generations of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the days of Moses, God is dealing with His People again.  Passover in delivering the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt foreshadows that far greater deliverance effected by Jesus Christ, our deliverance from bondage to sin.

 

{ During that period of time, the Hebrews were, though at first welcomed and honored, gradually subjugated and finally feared, oppressed and enslaved.  Of course, God was dealing with them all along.  This time of slavery was part of the preparation of His People, which, if remembered and learned from, could contribute much to their greatness.  We might call such an experience “a four hundred year sensitivity training course,” although the term “sensitivity training” has been substantially debauched in our day and seems to serve now more as a desensitization to wickedness and unrighteousness.  We are supposed to not only say nothing about wicked, sinful behavior—we are actually being told that we will embrace, support and condone human depravity.  God foresaw this perversity and supplies much wisdom in His word about how to walk righteously in the midst of a crooked generation.  Again, looking to the Lord to give us strength, courage and wisdom is the essence of that God-reliance which will see us through to eternal reward and blessing.

 

(That is why I have repeatedly taught you, beloved, that it is good to have heaven on your mind all the time.  Keeping your eyes upon your eternal condition will greatly assist you in escaping the traps and snares here and now.)}

 

            So, what is new is this: that with the appointment of Moses to deliver them, God is embarking on a new phase of raising up unto Himself, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.  Now the last thing this old flesh wants to embrace is becoming either that royal priesthood, or holy.  The first requires me to accept God’s agenda for my life, and it beckons me to selflessness and a life of costly service.  The second compels me to view myself as placed in a moral universe—holiness implies purity, separation from sin as well as an embrace of justice, truth and righteousness.  You cannot be a spiritual sloth or a moral slob and call yourself “a man of God.”  The same holds true for you sisters. 

 

            “Let My people go” still means that God wants His people set free to worship Him with their whole being, with all that they are.  Furthermore, God intended to reveal His Law to them so that they might become a light unto the nations.  They were to know that the salvation, the mercies of the Lord were aimed at their transformation and then they were to communicate these to others, to those walking in darkness.  And what did the Hebrews do with this spiritual opportunity: they repeatedly displayed stupendous weakness.  Were they rebellious and stubborn?  You bet.  Were they fleshly and carnal?  Really, now. In fact, what the record shows is not only did they display weakness, they manifested the very same viciousness, rage and murderousness that characterizes those who opposed Jesus and maliciously had Him crucified, the same traits that make the nations rage, and the peoples imagine a vain thing according to the revelation of God.  But, again, we are to be manifesting ourselves as different from those who do not know the Lord!  Our light must shine even brighter because of the greater revelation we have received.  All that we say, how we act (the witness of our attitudes and choices!), both how we speak and what we talk about should, as do the heavens, declare the glories of our Lord, Redeemer and King . . . only more so!  Everyone who meets you should walk away saying, as they did of Peter, “That woman must be a Christian, that man walks with Jesus, everything about them declares ‘to be a child of God.’”

 

            Jesus sends the disciples to prepare the Passover.  They experience a prophetic miracle in performing this duty.  They found a man bearing a pitcher of water.  They followed him.  They discovered a large upper room, furnished and prepared.  Everything unfolded as Jesus said it would.  Why?  Because it is imperative for them, and for us, to know that God is in charge, that we walk by divine appointment.  When God orders our steps as His children, we will not be led astray and we will not stumble over our weaknesses.

 

            That evening the twelve come and dine together.  They are going to experience two major events: Jesus’ last Passover, and the institution of the Lord’s Supper that followed.  It is a bittersweet moment, intimate, sacred and charged with significance.   During the Passover celebration, Jesus announces that one of them is going to betray Him.  This was in fulfillment of the prophecy in Psalm 41:9: He that ate pleasant food with me hath lifted up his heel against me.  Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper, which they experienced reclining, after their celebration of the Passover, typically done standing.  Now I am passing over these things quickly, not because they are unimportant but because my theme here is that of God addressing human weakness.  This happens in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives where from of old an olive oil press operated crushing virgin olives to produce the finest of oil.  Jesus announces that “The Son of God goes forth to die” because he wants the disciples to know that although what is coming may greatly trouble and distress their minds—and indeed, it is so unimaginably awful that it does completely overwhelm them—but it is all according to the will of God.  They must not think that the crucifixion just happened to Him.  His sacrifice had been fixed by the eternal decree of God to atone for the sins of the world—that is, to pay for and cancel mankind’s debt.  Jesus died to turn aside the justifiable wrath of God and to secure a way in which we may come into the presence of God boldly, making our petitions known and securing His help in every needful thing.

 

            Judas is not exonerated of his guilt in betraying Jesus one bit.  He did not have to act out of his weakness except that he was full of treachery and avarice.  Having chosen destruction for himself, he then turned on others.  Tragically, folks make this same choice today.  Their sin causes them to become enraged, they vainly imagine that they can get away with it and with a discernible giddiness they defy God, even to His face—refusing to repent, or to turn from their sin.  God has determined that the world should be redeemed, but that doesn’t interfere in the least with Judas choosing to be a wicked traitor and a scoundrel.  And God is glorified in His condemnation of Judas to the pit: The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.  Proverbs 16:4. 

 

            Before we get to the garden which serves as the battleground for our restoration to God’s favor, we have the hugely encouraging matter of Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial.  This episode is encouraging because we can so readily relate to what transpires.  Jesus reminds the disciples that He will be killed (“I will smite the shepherd,” v.27) and predicts that they will be first offended and subsequently scattered as a result of the horrific events entailed in Jesus’ brutal trial and execution.  This would be a most unhappy ending except that Jesus then tells them, “But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”  (v. 28) Now Peter declares that he will not be offended—that is confused or distressed in His mind.  Jesus replies with, “Verily, I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.”  And we know that Peter does exactly that.  However, when he has fallen, his response is to repent and return to Jesus.  He looks to the Lord, he looks up, that is unto the hills.  That is to say he seeks God’s help and that is his salvation—turning there he finds forgiveness hope, restoration and strength to overcome his weaknesses.

 

            Beloved, there is such a wonderful aptness to the Word of God.  Symbolically, thematically, theologically, historically, and prophetically on almost level that you can imagine, and on some that you cannot yet imagine, it is connected, unified, and, well, apt.  Of course, the drama of our redemption would feature a garden: we “fell” in the Garden of Eden, Jesus defeats His human weakness in the Garden of Gethsemane, and we are promised a garden of restoration in the age to come wherein the trees planted beside the river of life will produce fruit for us in all seasons.  Well may our souls exclaim, “How perfect, how great and marvelous are your works, oh, Lord!”  (Psalms 92:5, 40:5 and 139:17 all confirm this declaration.)  This garden marks the place where David fled during the rebellion of Absalom.  There David was crushed, afraid and humiliated—he was praying to God for help, deliverance, strength and direction.  Out of that crushing, that horrendous pressure applied through betrayal, violence, threats against his life— all the raging spite of his own flesh and blood—David is refined.  Like fine oil, David, crushed and pressed, becomes a greater, better king.  What was he facing?  He was facing the consequences of his moral failure with Bathsheba and Uriah, the judgments of God for his transgressions, his shortcomings as a father.  What desolation faced David in that place, what loss, guilt, sense of ruination!  And, suddenly, King David, the noble warrior, the man after God’s own heart revered by his people and exalted has been brought low.  He now comes across as human, vulnerable . . . his person, his soul is accessible to us and looking into that mirror we see our own faces!  What an apt place for Jesus to go!  There are many connections here all rooted in human weakness (continuity) and yet what differences!  David was counseled to flee from this place.  God promised to preserve his life and to restore his kingdom.  But Jesus, on the other hand, was not released to flee.  He was not allowed to defend Himself although legions of angles could have done so with power and with dispatch!  Jesus was directed to allow Himself to be arrested, to allow the betrayer to betray, to permit those who hated Him to falsely accuse, roughly abuse and murder Him.  Jesus was to lose His life, but to do so for our sake, in our stead, to procure for us forgiveness, deliverance and the Kingdom of God as our eternal inheritance.

 

            The real battle, what Jesus had to pass through in order to deliver on these promises, had to do with mastering human weakness.  And He had to do so in Himself.  The tyranny of the flesh, the death inherent in the flesh known as our mortality, began to manifest itself . . . to be displayed in all its full horror.  Jesus, we read, began to be shocked, stunned, totally amazed—that is,“sore amazed”—the prospect of His imminent death came to Him and struck His mind with a terror both immense and unfamiliar.  It is plainly one thing to confront death as the enemy of others, especially those who are mortal beings subject to death and dying as a natural part of life.  But Jesus faced something none of us else could face—the total inconsistency of death with the divine glory that He left behind to come and serve us.  That fueled His trembling and sadness so He became “exceedingly sorrowful even unto death.” (v. 34) He entered into my feelings (sorrow, fear, and despair) and grieved for me, feared for me, and despaired for me that is the reality of the incarnation.  Let’s be clear Jesus did not pretend to be fully human. He was fully human.  He did not “appear” to be human like charade but actually grieved in order to overcome grief, feared to overcome fear, despaired to overcome despair . . . and, yes, died to overcome death.  Of course, as the Son of God, He had no fear of death; but having been made flesh (John 1:14), He experienced all that belongs to the flesh.  And therefore He cried out, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, but since it cannot be otherwise, let it be not as I will but as you will.” (V.36)

 

            This trembling, this assault of sorrow establishes that Jesus’ death was totally voluntary.  His response to human weakness demonstrates a courage worthy of God.  It demonstrates as well faith and confidence in God.  These are the same means that we must apply to master weakness in ourselves—and we are blessed that they are both modeled and supplied by the same Jesus.  I spoke of difference above and return to it here.  In us, as in David, there are no feelings, or affections which are untainted by sin.  Jesus’ confrontation with grief and fear were, praise God untainted by sin; He did not rise up against God but remained regulated by His relationship to the Father.  We must do the same.  He was indeed weak, but without sin because in addition to being fully human, He was also the “Lamb of God” without spot or blemish, the only perfect sacrifice.  One further distinction derives from the fact that Jesus undertook this death for our sakes, and this certainly struck His heart with terror: He saw, in its entirety, the dreadful tribunal of God.  He saw its holiness, its absolute justice and its irrevocability for unredeemed mankind.  Words must fail us here, but Jesus saw the fearsome, deep and endless destruction which awaited us all if God’ holy wrath were not appeased.  So Jesus, uniquely, trembled for us because we are all guilty. Jesus shared His travail with Peter, James and John.  He wanted to provoke them out of their spiritual slumber and soul carelessness—how can we live so numbly?  Are we insensible to our moral peril, and what of the jeopardy of those we love huddled as they are on the brink of everlasting perdition?!

 

            The Lord returns to solitary prayer again, having urged them to “watch one hour.”  In this second prayer session, Jesus demonstrates mastery.  There is no shrinking from the office of Mediator, no further resistance.  Remember, there was not rebellion, or refusal in the first instance; merely a human revulsion.  We need to rejoice in this progression; this progress in determination that discloses a strengthening that comes from prayer.  Jesus was heard and empowered through prayer to receive what God had appointed that was contrary to His desire on the human plane.  Hebrews 5:7 which explains this, reads:

 

                        Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and

            supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to

            save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.

 

Jesus feared as John Calvin puts it:

 

            When he saw the wrath of God exhibited to him, as he stood at the tribunal of God

            charged with the sins of the whole world, he unavoidably shrunk with horror from

            the deep abyss of death.

 

That fear is the fear which caused Jesus to sweat blood (Luke 22:44)  But his faith nonetheless stood firm (“not my will by Thy will be done”).  Some may find it shocking that not even this extremity of anguish quickened the disciples to watch and pray; but in their defense it may be said, they are truly clueless as to what was really up.  They do not understand that what Jesus is going through is the ground and hope of their own deliverance from human weakness and temptations, spiritual and carnal.  We are different.  We cannot pretend that we have not been warned.  We know that slothfulness of the flesh is our great and common enemy.  However, they knew enough to experience a drowsiness induced by grief for what they saw but couldn’t yet comprehend.

 

            Thus on every hand Satan finds suitable and ready opportunities of spreading his snares

            for us.  For if we dread no danger, he intoxicates and drowns us in sleep; and if we

            experience fear and sorrow, which ought to arouse us to prayer, he overwhelms our

            senses, so that they do not rise to God; and thus, in every respect, men fall away and

            forsake God, till he restores them.  (He is willing, but will we turn to Him?)

 

            When Jesus addresses the still sleepy disciples the third time, His use of language is ironic.  He doesn’t really mean that they should sleep on.  It could be a gentle chiding, or a quiet acceptance of their condition.  What the context makes clear is that there is no time for rest—the press of His arrest won’t allow any further rest.  They are going to need all that they might have managed.  The contrast with the agitation of those arresting Jesus is dramatic.  The whole armed multitude seems terrified by what they have come to do.  They weren’t even fortified by having come armed and en masse.  According to one account, they fall to the ground when He but speaks.  Is it not an astounding display of rage and vanity that they, relying on armed might, do not hesitate to rise up against God?  With “Hail, Rabbi,” Judas approaches and gives Jesus one last kiss, a kiss as it were of death.  Dressed in the appearance of affection, that kiss is an open declaration of Judas’ towering lostness.  Jesus, in replying, says, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”  Our Lord thus confronts Judas with his ingratitude and betrayal.  Judas represents the traitors that the Church frequently shelters in her very midst.  Hypocrites, almost Christians and spiritual malcontents, or malefactors who are simply waiting for the right moment to attack and in so doing divide or destroy a fellowship.  Therefore Paul found it necessary to command in 2 Timothy 2:19:

 

            Let every one that calleth upon the name of God depart from iniquity.

                Iniquity exceeds mere sin; it is a settled and pervasive wickedness.  Iniquity is the grip of depravity; sin is the discrete act whereby we miss the mark.

 

                After a brief skirmish, during which Peter slices off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus is led away and all the disciples forsake Him—fulfilling what He had prophesied a few hours earlier.  Fascinating, Jesus’ healing of that servant’s ear doesn’t appear to have slowed the momentum of these events one bit.  You would think someone might say, “Wait a minute, who is it who is able to do such a thing?  Maybe we had better show Him some respect.”  But violence was in the air.  The reprobate mob seems possessed of a spirit of giddiness, they are blinded by their rage.  Not even the man healed was able to free himself from the blood lust of the moment.  He was an ingrate.  In contrast, Jesus was submissive to the fulfillment of the Scriptures.  He employed the Scripture as a bridle on the flesh and He did so out of His vast knowledge and mastery of the Word of God.  It is possible and necessary for us to employ the Scripture in this way in our walk.  We must be totally submissive to the living God.

 

                “Are you come out against me as against a robber?”  So He wounds their evil consciences.  They knew that He had lived both publicly and peaceably in their midst.  They could have arrested Him in the temple any day without show of military force.  They are acting as if He were a seditious rebel, or a malefactor, a troublemaker who disrupts the public peace.  Still, the hand of God always prevails; He turns the evil intentions of mankind into a work of universal deliverance.  Jesus turns their attention away from his disciples and exposes the vanity of His oppressors.  The necessity of this diversion is supported by the rough treatment of a certain young man who appeared to be following Jesus.  He fled leaving his clothing behind.  In Luke it is implied that the Lord grants His enemies leave for a short hour to do their worst: “this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”  Their work is the work of the devil.  They are the slaves of the devil glorying in disorder, confusion and working under the cover of darkness.  What they are doing in seeking to kill the Son of God reeks of arrogant presumption—the mark of the Evil One from the beginning of his rebellion in heaven.  Jesus was led away to His “trial” at the palace of the high priest and that is where we must leave our narrative for now.

 

            But it is not my intention to leave you completely in despair.  Consider this: that because of what Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane, it is all over except the shouting.  It only looks like Satan is winning but the truth is that Satan’s cruel brief hour is no victory, it is total defeat!  It is written vengeance is mine and God is taking vengeance in the passion narrative on Satan and all his minions.  Jesus has taken all the wrath due us, we are set free, and so we depart today on a solemn but victorious note—things were never better for mankind!

 

                                                                                                Amen