When God Died, John 18-19

This sermon was delivered on Good Friday of 2018, March 30th.

–Grant, the Nerdcore Theologian

4431-crown of thorns_edited.630w.tn.jpgOn Good Friday, God died.

Out loud, that’s kind of strange to say I’ll admit. I mean, the definition of a God is that they are immortal, that they don’t die. But on a Friday 2000 years ago, the man who was God died on a cross. More than that, he died for us.

Jesus was fully God, and fully human–this much we believe. Humanity was cruel to this God. We spat on him. We cursed him. We betrayed him, tried him, and killed him. He allowed us to do this to him too. At any point, Jesus could have stopped this from happening. He could have called an army of angels to his side to end the persecution. He could have caused an earthquake, a storm, anything to occur to disrupt the proceedings. He could have walked off the cross himself and walked away. But he didn’t. He chose this end. This much we have heard from John. It’s a lot to take in. That’s why we have a whole day to do it with, a whole worship service devoted to meditating on Jesus’s death and passion.

So what should it mean to us that God died for us?

Well, this is God we’re talking about. Jesus, as well as the angels, repeatedly told us that for God, all things are possible. With God, a sinner can inherit the Kingdom of God. With God, a virgin can bear a child. With God, a storm can be stopped with a word, a man can walk on water, the sick can be healed and the lost can be found. Therefore, with God, the impossible–a God dying–is possible too. Sad as that is, it is not outside of possibility for a being of infinite power, as well as infinite love.

good-friday-jesusAnd that’s really the kicker, isn’t it? It’s because of the depth of Jesus’ love for us that he was willing to do it for us. God died because he loved us, and that love was so overwhelming that God submitted to the unthinkable.

This day is a somber one. It’s one of reflection and prayer. It’s a day of confession and repentance. It’s even a day when we can be sad, and even mournful, for a dead messiah. We need to feel these things. We need to feel sorrow for what happened to Jesus, and regret for how humanity treated him.

More than anything though, this needed to happen.

Death is an inevitability. It is the equal balance of life, one that is inescapable for us mortals.

There is a passage that I found from Dr. Alan Watts, a scientist and philosopher, that explains nothingness and death in a fascinating way, which I’ll share with you now.

Overcoming-Fear-by-Embracing-Nothingness-1-768x504.jpgIf you are aware of a state which you call is, or reality, or life

This implies another state called isn’t

Or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness, or death

There it is, you can’t know one without the other

And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end

That is exactly, don’t you see, what makes it lively

Liveliness is change, it’s motion

So you see, you’re always at the place, where you always are

And you think WOOWIY! little further on we’ll get there!

I hope we don’t go further down

So that we loose what we already have

But that is built into every creatures situation

No matter how high, no matter how low

So in this sense all places are the same place

And the only time you ever notice any difference is in the moment of transition

When you go up a bit, you gain

When you go down a bit, you feel disappointed, gloomy, lost

You can go all the way down to death

Somehow there seems to be a difficulty getting all the way up

Death seems so final

Nothingness seems so very, very irrevocable and permanent

But then if it is, what about the nothingness that was before you started?

On the contrary, it takes nothing to have something

Cause you wouldn’t know something was without nothing

You wouldn’t be able to see anything unless there was nothing behind your eyes

The most real state is the state of nothingness.

 

–Alan Watts

 

If the most real state is the state of nothingness, then God needed to experience that. God needed to die so that God could overcome death for us.

On Sunday, we’ll see this in its fullness. But for now, we wait. We dwell on nothingness, emptiness, in hopes that it will one day become something-ness again.

God is God. That will never change. But in the meantime, we must contemplate God’s death, and our own role in it. To get to the beginning, we must experience the end. That way, we can fully appreciate it. Until then, we wait. In the name of the loving Father, the crucified Son, and the ever present Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

 

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About grantimusmax

Grant Barnes, aka Grantimus Maximus, aka The Nerdcore Theologian. Currently, he is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California. He is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology with a Masters Degree in Divinity. He graduated from Texas State University Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in English, minor in History. He watches way too many movies, reads too many books, listens to too much music, and plays too many video games to ever join the mundane reality people claim is the "Real World." He rejects your reality, and replaces it with a vision of what could be, a better one, shaped by his love for God.
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