As Good Friday approaches, the Church prepares for the most somber occasion of the year: Jesus’ death. But in mourning, Christians know that His death also brings His resurrection. His suffering takes the burden of sin off the sinner’s shoulders. Read C. F. W. Walther’s Good Friday sermons from Gospel Sermons, Volume 1 below to see why we can rejoice in our mourning.
We are gathered here today in order to concern ourselves with the most serious and, at the same time, the most mysterious, amazing, and comforting subject for man’s spirit. We have gathered here in order to arrange a funeral service. . . . Today we shall hear of the shedding of a blood that was not human blood, but as John expressly writes, the very blood of God’s Son.
Yes, this time I must preach to you: On this day many years ago the Most Holy Himself died the death of the sinner in order that the sinner might live. . . . On this day even He whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting, came to the end of His days that salvation might be brought again for fallen mankind. On this day the very inexhaustible found itself, from which the life of all beings flowed, dried up in order to give life to the dead hearts of all sinners. The sun of eternal love set in order that those who were threatened with eternal darkness could shine in all eternity. . . .
Celebrating His Death
God died on the cross and reconciled the world unto Himself. It is that which the saints in heaven especially extolled and will extol into all eternity. . . . Not only the saints but also the angels in heaven have no more wonderful subject that they should celebrate in song than the death of God’s Son; even the angels, John writes, exult with loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). So you see that the day of Christ’s death is celebrated not only in heaven by the hosts of many thousands of angels and all the spirits of perfected saints, but it will be celebrated from eternity to eternity when heaven and earth will have long since disappeared. . . .
God’s Creation: Man’s Fall
When God created man, he stood in the most blessed relation with God: he was God’s child, God’s beloved, God’s friend. But when man fell into sin, all men became God’s enemy and God theirs. God is holy; He therefore cannot be friendly with sin. . . .
If God had only sent His only-begotten Son into the world to announce and offer a reconciliation, oh, what an urgent invitation even this would be! . . . God did not send His only-begotten Son into the world merely to announce the reconciliation but also to offer Him as the sacrifice to establish that reconciliation. . . . This is infinitely more than if God in the presence of all men had opened all doors of His heaven and called to them from the throne of His glory: “Enter into My happiness. I will remember your sins no more; they are carried into the depths of the seas. I will be your Father, and you shall be My sons and daughters.”
Reconciled to God
After God let His own Son bleed and die on the cross, no man can doubt that God will receive him if he but returns. Or what is there that could still fill him with fear? His sins? They are paid for by an infinite price, the blood of God’s Son. Or God’s wrath? Why, He is reconciled through the death of His own Son. Or God’s threats in the Law? Why, they are done away with by the cross, transformed into promises of grace and happiness. As certainly as at Christ’s death the sun was darkened, so certainly has the sun of grace and righteousness risen over all men. As certainly as after Christ’s death the graves were opened and the dead arose, so certainly was Christ’s death the death of our death, and the well of water springing up to eternal life. . . . How all messengers of God can say to all men: “Come, come, be reconciled to God!” You should not first ask: “How will I reconcile the Most Holy, whom I have offended?’ That has already taken place! God is reconciled, gloriously, completely, eternally reconciled; oh, be ye then reconciled to God!
Post from Gospel Sermons, Volume I, pages 219–22 (emphasis original), copyright © 2013 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
To read the entirety of Walther's Good Friday sermon, order Gospel Sermons, Volume 1, below.