April 26, 2024

Homily Twenty-Seven on the Passion (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily Twenty-Seven on the Passion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 9, 1958)

The terrible scene of the arrest of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane has just passed before your eyes.

Have you seen the unfortunate Judas the traitor at the head of a crowd of servants of the high priest, armed with swords and stakes; have you heard the devilish words of the traitor who betrayed his Divine Teacher with a kiss; they saw the outburst of anger of the fiery Apostle Peter, who struck the servant of the high priest, Malchus, with a sword and cut off his right ear; have you heard the meek word of the Savior, who healed Malchus’ ear and commanded Peter: “Return your sword to its place, for all who take up the sword will perish by the sword; or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will present to Me more than twelve legions of Angels?” (Matthew 26:52–53).

These last words of the Lord Jesus pierced our hearts and minds. How, how, Lord Jesus Christ our God, for it means that according to Your will You are going to terrible torture and crucifixion on the cross?!!

We could not understand Your terrible words if we had not found an explanation for them in the great Prophet Isaiah, who said in chapter 53 of his book: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.... He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:5, 7).

O our Lord, our Lord! How shall we repay You for Your immeasurable mercy to us, who are steeped in sin and unrighteousness? With what, if not ardent love for You, Who endured cruel torments for us?! With what, if not always, at least mentally, our contemplation of Your cross, stained with Your most holy Blood?! With what, if not the pain of the heart before the terrible sight of Your hands and feet, nailed to the cross with iron nails?! With what, if not the remembrance of Your painful word, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46), bursting out of Your bosom when Your sufferings became unbearable?!

May not a single day of our life pass without a shudder in our hearts and hot tears at the memory of the terrible price at which You redeemed us from the power of the devil!

In one of my previous sermons, I told you about the cruel outrage to which our Lord Jesus Christ was subjected when they brought Him from the Garden of Gethsemane to the house of the high priest; told you about how they spat in His eyes and face and struck His cheeks with all their might. In a recent sermon, you heard about the terrifying scourging that Pontius Pilate’s soldiers subjected our Savior to.

We know this from the four Gospels of the Apostles of Christ. But what is extremely amazing is that the great prophet Isaiah, who lived 700 years before the birth of Christ, knew and wrote about this.

He definitely saw with his own eyes the outrages against the Lord Jesus Christ in the house of the high priest and His terrible scourging in Pilate’s praetorium. Here are the words of the great Prophet in the 50th chapter of his book: “I have given My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to those who strike; I did not hide My face from mockery and spitting” (Isa. 50:6).

How, if not from the Holy Spirit, could the Holy Prophet Isaiah know what happened seven centuries after his life?

How could he know that the suffering of the Son of God was a voluntary sacrifice for the sins of the whole world? After all, these great words alone could testify to the fact that all of Holy Scripture bears the bright stamp of the Holy Spirit.

But read the entire book of the prophet Isaiah and you will find in it many other prophecies about the Lord Jesus Christ, for which this great prophet received the name “Old Testament Evangelist.”

We find many similar revelations in the books of other prophets.

Thus, not only from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ addressed to the Apostle Peter: “Or do you think that I cannot now ask My Father, and He will present Me with more than twelve legions of Angels?” (Matthew 26:53) - not only from these words, but also from the ancient testimony of the Holy Scriptures, we know that the most terrible of all executions - crucifixion - the Eternal Son of God, who took human flesh from the Virgin Mary, suffered voluntarily in order to bear the sins of the whole world.

Oh, our Lord, Lord!

What shall we render unto You for all that You have rendered unto us?!!

O Son of God, who shed Your Theanthropic Blood for us, accept our prostration and our tears even on this day of remembrance of Your fierce suffering!

(Everyone bows to the ground before the image of the Cross of Christ).

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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