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Perfection was Broken – Good Friday

03/30/2016

I know its a little late for Good Friday, but I wanted to share this with everyone.

 

On Good Friday PPC does a joint worship service with a number of other congregations and preachers from around the area. It goes from 12pm-3pm and has about 9 preachers that each take about 20 minutes. There is an intro preacher, 7 people that preach on the 7 last words of Jesus, and a conclusion preacher. I had the honor of preaching one of these sermons. Below is my transcript from the message I shared on the loss of perfection and Jesus’ deep sorrow when he said, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Perfection. A word often used to describe things like the weather, your food, the ratio found in nature and art known as phi, and a pitcher that has no hits an entire game. There is a problem that presents itself though when you look at what perfection actually means and describes. Very, very few things can be perfect. Very few things can be the example of perfection and flawlessness. When something is deemed perfect, then there can be no improvement. Nothing can be added to it to make it better. The word perfect comes from the latin word perficio which means finished or complete. Aristotle, the first to actually write a definition of the word, defines perfect as 1 of 3 things: 1. that which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts; 2. that which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; 3. that which has attained its purpose. The problem with perfection is that there is no where to go but down. Since there can be no improvement, there can only be decline. When something is perfect you only have everything to lose. A perfect grade point average, golf score, or bowling game can be ruined by one mistake, one misplaced moment, one lapse in judgment. After that, its over. Nothing hurts deeper than the loss of perfection.

Perfect is exemplified in few things, people, and events. However, I do feel that we can all agree that Jesus is perfect and the relationship that exists between Father, Son and Spirit is … perfect. There is no relationship that can be better and nothing about their relationship can be better. I have had some good relationships in my life, and I have had my share of bad ones. But never have I, nor anyone alive, ever experienced the perfect relationship that exists within the trinity.

So perfect and intertwined that the Cappadocian Fathers, whose main goal was to bring more of an intellectual mind to the early christian community so they could stand their own with the Greek and Roman philosophers, had to come up with a way to describe this ultimate and intimate relationship. They were trying to define the trinity and God as one being and three separate persons. This perfect relationship between Father, son and spirit. From the beginning and before, they knew other, served each other and loved each other… perfectly.

If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. perichoresis is a 2 part word. A greek word. The first part, Peri, is where we get the word perimeter and periscope. It means circle or round. The second part is Choresis which is where we get words like choreography, meaning dance. Perichoresis, at is root, basically means circle dance. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance.

The Cappadocian Fathers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationships in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. Perichoresis is the dance of love.

So we get to the 4th word of Jesus. Mark 15:33-35 –  “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Jesus, who has already gone through more than any human should ever go through, more pain, more humiliation, more abandonment than any one should every have to experience finally gets to the last phase of his journey. When darkness descends, all of the sin, past, present, future, all of the sin that has happened and that will happen. Everything bad that I have done, that you have done, that anyone will ever do, descended on Jesus like a flood.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

At that moment, our sin broke the perichoresis. The sin of the world interrupted the dance and for the first and only time ever, from beginning to end, Jesus was separated from God. For the only time in all eternity, the dance stopped. The only time in history, perfection was broken.

Isaiah 53:4-5 says Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

He redeemed us from the curse of the law by taking the curse upon himself. He was made a sin-offering, and He died in our place, on our account, that He might bring us nearer to God. This is what caused the stop to the dance and the intense pain and loss that Jesus was experiencing. Because Jesus had the sin of the world placed on him, God had to turn away. There had to be separation.

Jesus, who was fully human and fully God, experienced the fullness of his humanity as he was torn away from his perfect relationship. His heart was broken because he could no longer be with his father. If you think about it, the Godhead itself was broken. Not only did Jesus experience this loss but so did the father and the spirit. They had part of themselves ripped out and broken. He experienced extreme loneliness and abandonment as he became the sin offering for us. All they had experienced up until that point was perfection, until that moment, when the relationship was broken and the dance stopped and perfection was lost. And nothing hurts deeper than the loss of perfection and Jesus truly had everything to lose.

MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? Hear the sorrow in that. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? More pain than Jesus had endured up until that point. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? That moment of excruciating physical pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!?

I, as many of you have, have experienced loss. I have experienced abandonment. I have lost people very close to me and have gotten that feeling of pain and hurt that pierced to the heart. But we have never known perfection. We have never experienced what it is like to be in a faultless and pristine relationship. The deep and profound emotional pain that Jesus was experiencing will be unlike any of us will ever come close to. But he did it. He went through this suffering, the ultimate suffering. He went through this suffering not for his own gain, but for ours. Not for his own fulfillment, but for ours.

In the garden the night before, Jesus knew this was coming. He was clued in on the plan. He knew it would hurt and be painful. He knew that he would be wrecked and crippled, but I bet it was more than he would have ever expected.

But Why? Hebrews 10:12 & 14 says in the message “As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! … It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.”

Jesus chose imperfection so that we could be made perfect. Jesus jumped out of the dance so that we could be brought in. In Jesus, because of his sacrifice, we are made perfect. We’ve got a 4.0, a perfect game, and no hitter, a perfect 10/10. Because of Jesus, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose

On Easter we celebrate the victory of the resurrection, the concurring of death, the reunion of the Godhead and the restarting of the dance, but today we remember the intensity of the moments leading up to it. We look back to what Jesus, God, chose to go through for me. For you. For all of creation.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s last book in the Lord of the Rings series, Return of the King, has the tagline, “There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice.”

Jesus experienced loss so that you could triumph, He experienced suffering so that we could have victory, and he was the sacrifice so that we could have freedom from death.

During this moment of silence, reflect on the intense emotion that Jesus experienced being separated from God. A sacrifice almost greater than death itself so that death could be conquered and we could once again be in relationship with our Father.

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