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Sermon April 10 2022

Palm Sunday C 2022 It’s Not Fair

Luke 23:1-49


One of the fundamental basics of our concept of justice is getting what you deserve.  If you upset the hornet’s nest, you deserve to get stung.  If you tease a dog, you should expect to be bitten.  If you sit under a coconut tree, you deserve to be hit on the head with a coconut. 

But on the other hand, our sense of justice is bothered when someone gets something they do not deserve.  An incompetent employee gets the promotion ahead of you.  Your neighbor’s children turn out just fine even though their parents were not the best parents, and your children go astray.  You go to church, you pray, you tithe, and you try to be nice and kind to everyone, and you find yourself on the receiving end of trouble and suffering, and you think, “it’s not fair.” But is it? 

Today, on Palm Sunday, we hear the story of Christ’s Passion.  And as we consider Christ’s arrest, trial, suffering, and death, we might be saying to ourselves “none of this was very fair either.” 

Yes.  It is true that a true miscarriage of justice occurred when the Pharisees arrested Jesus and tried Him at night.  Trials were supposed to happen during the daylight hours, according to the law.  And it wasn’t fair that so many false witnesses testified against Him.  It wasn’t fair that Herod judged Him only on whether He would do a miracle not.  

It wasn’t fair that Jesus, an innocent man, completely free from sin, was tried and convicted and sentenced to death – when a murderer named Barabbas got off scot-free. 

Barabbas was a leader of the armed rebellion against the Roman occupiers.  He was a fighting man who wanted freedom for his people.  He was a man who got things done no matter what the cost, even if it meant murder.  And yes, Barabbas did commit murder.  

Jesus, on the other hand, was a humble man.  He was soft-spoken.  He told His disciples to put away their swords when arrested.  He told His disciples to turn the other cheek.  He said render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.  

Jesus even reached out His hand and healed the Roman occupiers on occasion as opposed to killing them in rebellion like Barabbas. Jesus was a man of peace.  Jesus was/is loving, kind, and compassionate.  We know from scripture that Jesus was fully without sin. 

And yet, Barabbas was what so many of the Jews wanted Jesus to be.  In their minds they wanted a military deliverer who would lead them in victory over the Romans.  So, when they were given a chance to decide who should be set free, they shouted out Barabbas

Jesus took Barabbas’s place and was crucified.  Jesus took the place of a murderer and was nailed to a Cross.  Jesus bore the weight of human sin and paid the ultimate price.   Jesus took your sin and my sin to the Cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds we have been healed.  

Jesus is the innocent One who takes the place of the sinner.  And you and I go free.  And it is just not fair.  We should be the ones condemned, not HIM.  In all fairness, Jesus should be the One found innocent, and we should be found guilty.

And yet, for reasons beyond our human understanding, God’s Divine plan for Redemption included the innocent One taking upon Himself the sins of the world.  And by doing so, God’s justice and God’s mercy are both satisfied.  Sin is paid for – that is justice.  And mercy is granted because of Christ’s Redeeming Activity. 

And none of this makes sense according to our human reasoning.  But that is how it is with God’s love.   God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, we will not experience God’s wrath. Romans 5:8-9 

Is this fair?  No.  At least not when viewed with human logic.  But the events that took place were all done according to God’s plan.  

As we enter Holy Week this week, let us reflect on the way Jesus gave himself completely and wholly in service to us. We were in need. Our sin condemned us.  We were cut off from God and yet Jesus graciously suffered and died for us to restore that which we had broken.  

Let us pray:  Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross.  Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who loves and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.