“Voices of the Passion”
Palm Sunday: Sunday of the Passion, April 14, 2019
Voices of the Passion
Text: Luke 22:1–23:56
We hear a lot of voices every day, don’t we? We hear the voices of mom or dad, spouse, kids, bosses, co-workers, teachers, announcers, and also the voice on the embedded video clip on that web page we have open that we can’t find and we can’t turn it off. Right?
Well, think of this: Every Sunday, for some two thousand years, somewhere, somehow, the voice of Jesus is heard, over and over, Sunday after Sunday, coming from the mouths of His pastors. In many places and many times, for two thousand years somewhere people have gathered to hear the voice of Jesus in His Word. On this Palm Sunday, this Sunday of the Passion, from Luke’s Passion account, we want to hear the voice of Jesus rising above the surrounding noise—the noise of this world and the noise in our own soul—for in hearing Him, we receive life and forgiveness.
Many voices try to create a racket, a commotion, that threatens to drown out the voice of Jesus, in the Passion history and even all the way to today. We start this morning with the voices of opposition in the Passion account (Luke 22–23):
1. Judas, in talking to the chief priests: “What will you give me if I turn him over to you?”
2. Disciples, on the night of Maundy Thursday, there in the upper room, arguing: “I’m the greatest!” “No, I am!” “No, not you, but Peter, John, or . . .”
3. Satan saying to Jesus: “Give me Peter! You can keep the rest but give me Peter.”
4. Again, Satan to Jesus, this time not in the upper room but in the Garden of Gethsemane, repeating how he tempted Jesus after his Baptism: “You don’t have to go to the cross, just listen to me . . .”
5. Judas, again, telling the temple guards: “The one I kiss. Take him!”
6. Peter, at the high priest’s house as Jesus’ trial begins before the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, denying him: “Woman, I do not know him at all.”
7. The soldiers, having their fun with Jesus, having blindfolded Him: “Prophesy! Who hit you?”
8. The voices of those on the Council, on the Sanhedrin: “If you are the Christ, tell us! Prove it to us!”
9. Pontius Pilate, Good Friday morning, asking Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”
10. King Herod, hoping Jesus would put on a show: “Give me a sign—do something! Don’t just stand there, say something!”
11. The crowd before Pilate, many of whom were singing praises for Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on this day: “Take Him away! Crucify Him!” And we know their voices prevailed.
12. The rulers, standing in front of the cross on which Jesus is dying: “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God.”
Now those were just a sample of the voices that tried to drown out Jesus in His Passion. There are a lot more voices to consider here today. Voices today, in our time and our lives:
1. The secularist (a person who rejects religion): “Jesus was just a carpenter who said some pithy things. He’s not really the Son of God. Miracles just don’t happen.”
2. The atheist: “How can a good God allow suffering like this? There is no God.”
3. The sinner: “My sins are too great. There’s no forgiveness for me.”
4. A fearful believer: “What if I deny Him like Peter did?”
5. The skeptic: “But I don’t feel anything at all.”
6. A hesitant believer: “Can this forgiveness really be for me?”
We’re talking about a lot of voices here. One of the thieves, who heard it all, is moved to turn to Jesus and say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Then, rising above the noise of all the competing voices, the voice of Jesus is heard, assuring him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:42–43). In the same way, we hear the voice of Jesus rising above all the noise and racket and hubbub that is going on out there, and we hear His voice above all the noise in our own souls.
We hear the voice of Jesus…first, in His Passion:
1. Jesus, in the upper room, washing feet and saying to the disciples: “I am among you as the one who serves,” for you!
2. Jesus to Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
3. Jesus: “The Scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘he was numbered among the transgressors,’ ” for you.
4. Jesus praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Not my will, but your will be done,” all so that we can pray with confidence, “Thy will be done,” knowing that in Jesus God’s will for us is always good.
5. Jesus said to those who came to arrest Him: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.” He went into the darkness for you.
6. Jesus said to Peter at the high priest’s house: Not words this time, just a look, one wordless look at Peter and Peter weeps bitterly.
7. Jesus said to Pilate, during His trial, after Pilate asked Him, “Are you a king?”: “You have said so.”
8. Jesus, in front of the crowd who are screaming, begging for His crucifixion: silence (This time). He offers no defense, and their voices prevail, for Jesus is given over to death, for us, in our place.
9. Jesus to those who are crying for Him as He makes His way to Calvary: “Weep not for me, but rather, weep for yourselves and for your children.”
10. Jesus, over and over: “Father, forgive them.” For that is what he had come to do, bring forgiveness of sins for you!
11. Jesus, again, to the repentant thief: “Today, you shall be with me in paradise!”
12. Jesus, finally: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” So, He begins and ends with the Father, because the mission to take away your sins, my sins, is now complete, and full and free forgiveness is won, for you and me.
And even now the voice of Jesus rises above the noise of the world. We still hear Jesus talking to us:
1. He does not explain suffering, but He overcomes suffering by suffering for us.
2. He tells us that no sin is too great, but that He wants you to repent and hear His voice saying: “Father, forgive.”
3. Jesus says to you: “Bring your doubts, bring your fears, bring them here, and listen to me. All this, from beginning to end, is done for you, is done because I want you. I have made you mine forever. You are my beloved child. Your sins are forgiven.”
4. Jesus says to you: “As I rested in the grave, so will you. And as I rose again from the grave, so will I call you forth, raise you from the dead, and you also will be with me in paradise.”
5. Jesus says to you: “It doesn’t depend on your feeling, but on My word. Just listen to me.”
So, once again, we have gathered here on Palm Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion, in the year of our Lord 2019. We have come again, as He commanded us, to hear the voice of Jesus once more, “This is my body, for you.” “This is my blood, shed for you.” Hear that voice and believe. The life He gives, He gives for you.
In Jesus’ Name.
Adapted from Material in Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 29, Part 2.