Good Friday – St. John 19
We all find ourselves and our vocations in the Table of Duties; we are either the Preacher or we are the Hearer; we are either the Government or we are the Citizens. Some of you are Husbands and Wives; and we all find ourselves as either Parents or Children, and for many the answer is both. We have all been Employees at one point or another, and some have even held the title of Employer. And we have all been Youth, and some day, many of us may be among the Widows as well.
Through the waters of Holy Baptism, we have each been called by name to be children of God, and so we have each found ourselves living out our baptisms in any number of these vocations. There is no shortage of overlap between them, and there is no shortage of ways in which one can love and serve their neighbor in these vocations.
Preachers are called to preach the Word in its faithfulness and purity; Hearers are called upon to hear the Word and support their preachers. The Government is called upon to maintain order by rewarding righteousness and punishing wickedness; while Citizens are called upon to pray for their leaders and be obedient. Husbands are to love their wives; Wives are to respect their husbands. Parents are to provide for their children and teach them the faith; Children are to honor their parents. Employers are to provide for their employees; Employees are to work hard and not steal. Youth and Widows are to see each other as equal parts of the body of Christ.
It is all laid out for us in the Scriptures; clearly stated in the Ten Commandments; easily understood in light of our baptisms; all designed for maintaining order and allowing for the continued love and care for our neighbor, whether they be in the pew next to us, or whether they be many miles away.
And yet, despite there being no shortage of ways in which we can love and serve our neighbor in the vocations that God has placed us into, not to mention no shortage of neighbors whom we can love and serve; there is also no shortage of ways in which we neglect these same vocations on a daily basis.
Preachers grow lazy in their preaching and study; Hearers do not always want to hear what they are doing wrong. Governments love power, and Citizens rebel. Husbands will only show love if they are respected; Wives will only show respect if they are loved. Parents forget what it was like when they were young; Children refuse to follow the advice of their parents. Employers are always looking out for more money; and Employees are always looking out for ways to cut corners. Youth and Widows think they can get along just fine without the other.
Such is the power of sin; God places us into vocations that are for our benefit and the benefit of those around us; and Satan comes telling us that we should desire those vocations that we have not been given.
And so Citizens are told that they can run the government; Wives are told they do not need their Husbands, and Husbands are told they are not limited to their Wife; Employees are told the business is truly theirs, not their Employers; Children are told that they know more than their Parents.
But that is not really what this is about is it? It is not just about you lusting after one earthly vocation as opposed to another is it? After all, in whatever vocation you have been placed, the command is the same: to love and serve your neighbor.
No, this really goes back to the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve not being content with the vocations they had been given, and their desire, your desire, my desire, to be God.
That’s the job you are really after, isn’t it? To be God. If you are God, than all of these other vocations become meaningless, which is how you often view them anyway. If you are God, then you are over all, and you do not need to worry about loving and serving your neighbor, because everyone will be forced to love and serve you.
But that is where we get being God all wrong. Being God is not about others serving you, being God is just like those other vocations – it is about loving and serving those around you.
But God does not serve with token compliments, or by sending flowers on random days, or by voting in the upcoming election. Nor does God serve with a bonus check or by occasionally mentoring the young or assisting the elderly once in a while. No, that is how we think serving others works, but God has a better way – He sends His one and only Son into the world to lay down His life for you.
That is what Jesus does today, He lays down His life for you. Jesus perfectly fulfills His vocation as the Son of God for all those times that you fail in fulfilling your vocation, whether it is in the Church, or in the State, or in the Home, or in the Work Place. Jesus looks at you, lost and condemned sinners, who are constantly rejecting your vocations in the world, and He loves you, and He dies for you, thus perfectly fulfilling His vocation, so that you might be forgiven for all those times you fail in yours..
Jesus dies so lazy Preachers and deaf Hearers might be forgiven; Jesus dies so that power hungry Governments and rebellious Citizens might be forgiven; Jesus dies so that unloving Husbands and disrespectful Wives might be forgiven; Jesus dies so that overbearing Parents and unruly Children might be forgiven; Jesus dies so that heavy handed Employers and Employees with sticky fingers might be forgiven; Jesus dies so that Youth and Widows who are only focused on themselves might be forgiven.
Jesus even dies for you who wish to be God, so that you too might be forgiven.
Jesus dies for you, laying down His life, perfectly fulfilling His vocation, so that you, who have been forgiven and made clean in the blood of Jesus, may go forth and love and serve your neighbor.
Preachers and Hearers cling to the Word; Government and Citizens strive for order; Husbands and Wives love and honor each other; Parents and Children strive to be a blessing to each other; Employers and Employees consider the welfare of the other; Youth and Widows, remember that you are both a part of the body of Christ.
Everyone finds their vocation in the Table of Duties many times over, and in those vocations you are called to love and serve their neighbor. Today we see the epitome of that love and service: it is Jesus on the cross, dying, so that you might live.