Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church | Portage, Indiana

March 18th, 2020

Midweek Lent 2020: Jesus our Great High Priest (John 17)

“The High Priest Prays for our Sanctification”

Midweek Lent 4

READINGS

Psalm 123 (ESV)

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
    they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
    Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
    and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
    and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
    bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
    Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
    for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all his troubles.

Passion History: Mark 15:1-15 (ESV)

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Homily: The High Priest Prays for our Sanctification

Rev. David H. Locklair

John 17: 17-19

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Dear fellow redeemed,

          You just heard me pray it. It’s one of the common prayers in our churches at the start of sermons and it comes from the words of this text, where Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” This word “sanctify” at times has different emphases in Scripture. Here, it refers to saintliness, holiness, that is ours in Christ. In this text, Jesus teaches us how we are holy, how we are sanctified. He also prays concerning this. The High Priest prays for our sanctification

          “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth,” our Lord prayed. Jesus prays that His disciples, and that we, should be covered with His holiness that is brought through the Word to us. That Word is the truth; it is composed wholly of truth with no falsehood whatsoever. In every word and on every point the Word is true in all respects. God’s Word has no errors.

As those sanctified by the Word of God, Christ sent the Eleven into the world. “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” They were sent to proclaim His Word. The Eleven were chosen as Apostles and sent out by Jesus Himself to preach, teach, and administer His Sacraments. All Christians are sent out with the Word of God in one way or another. In whatever station in life God puts us, we are to bring His Word to those around us. We have the truth.

          We have the truth, but we are surrounded by lies. The world is full of lies. Satan is the father of lies. Our sinful flesh loves falsehood. There are many lies in the world that attack the truth of Christ; we may find ourselves being tempted by such lies. There are other lies that tempt us too. These are the lies of twisting the truth, those times that we try to make subtle changes to what’s happened, perhaps leaving details out or ever so slightly changing them, in order to make ourselves look better. These are those times of trying to defend ourselves by hiding our fault in the matter. These lies are just as sinful as any other.

But look at what Jesus said in verse 19: “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” The word translated here as “consecrate” is the same as the word for “sanctify” in this text. Jesus set Himself apart, consecrated Himself, sanctified Himself in our place. What did He set Himself apart to do? To suffer, to die, to rise again. Martin Luther commented, “But by ‘sanctify’ He means here exercising and carrying out a priestly office or work.”

          Here we see again the priestly work of Christ. He set Himself apart, He offered Himself as the very sacrifice for our sins. He has offered a sacrifice which made satisfaction for us. The offering of His holy life unto death has appeased God’s anger.

His sacrifice was perfect for His life was perfect. He never told a lie. He never believed a lie. He never bought into the lies of the world. Rather, He always spoke the truth. He always believed the truth. He always trusted the truth of His Father. His sacrifice then is the sweet-smelling offering that won our forgiveness.

          The result of Christ’s work is that we are, as He prayed, “sanctified in the truth.” We are set apart, consecrated, “holy.” This is not because we are without sin and it is not accomplished through our works. We are holy through the holiness of Another, of Christ. That holiness He accomplished is bestowed upon us through faith. Through faith we possess the righteousness of Christ which covers our sin.

          Luther put it this way: “As I have often said: Christ’s kingdom is nothing but sheer forgiveness, a kingdom that deals solely with sin and constantly blots it out, covers, cleanses, and makes pure as long as we live on earth.” Christ prays that we should be thus sanctified.

          These verses conclude the section of the High Priestly Prayer in which Jesus specifically prays for the Eleven disciples. His Words here certainly do apply to us, and in the next sections of this prayer we will hear Jesus pray specifically for all believers.

          We have the truth of God’s Word. We have something the world desperately needs. The unbelieving world is starving consuming only falsehood. Many churches are proclaiming a mixture of truth and falsehood. The pure Word of God is needed in our, and every community. We have it. So let us work to proclaim it.

          Dear friends, holiness, saintliness, being sanctified, happens through the truth of God’s Word. God’s Word communicates it to us. God’s Word delivers to us the holiness of Christ Jesus which covers us. In that holiness, we are prepared for eternity. Christ our High Priest prays for our sanctification. He prays that we should receive this holiness through God’s Word. The Father answers this prayer by sending the Word to us. Amen.

 (link to audio: https://soundcloud.com/hopeportage/midweeklent4_2020)

(cover art by Rev. Jeff Hendrix, Lutheran Synod Digital Publishing, https://lutheransynodpublishing.com/ )