May 3, 2024

Homily Four on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

I see a man tortured, killed, wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb. But who is it? Who is this victim of malice and revenge? Not only a man, but the God-man, the Son of the living God, Jesus Christ. Why was the innocent, sinless, righteous and immeasurably loving God-man killed? Who killed Him and where are the killers?

He was killed because He loved people as no one had ever loved; and those who needed to understand this love did not want to understand.

Because He did them many, countless good deeds, which no one has done; and meanwhile, these benefits were interpreted incorrectly.

Because He performed many of the greatest, beneficial miracles that no one had done, and people looked at these miracles deceitfully.

Because He called Himself, when necessary, what He is, that is, the Son of God, who came to save the lost.

Because he rebuked blatant unrighteousness

For the fact that the whole world followed Him, who were spectators of His miracles and participants in His blessings, however, they soon forgot these blessings and miracles: this is why the God-man was killed.

Killed by whom? The Jews, those who killed the prophets who denounced their unrighteousness and iniquity before the coming of the Savior; the Jews, God's chosen people, to whom God has revealed innumerable blessings; astonishing miracles, which are still sung daily by the Orthodox Church.

However, here is the greatest mystery, into which all of us now need to delve especially. The torturers and murderers of the Son of God were not only the Jews and pagan Romans: in these tortures and in this murder, all of us are very, very much to blame. Why? Because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world, was the sacrifice of our sins. Suffering and dying, He received from the all-righteous Father in heaven, in His humanity, the punishment for the sins of all of us. The Jews did to the God-man what perhaps we would have done with our passions if we were in their place, and, indeed, we are doing it on a smaller scale and in a different form to our neighbors even now.

Look, then, more closely at this divine Sufferer and Dead Man of three days. This is the sacrifice of our sins. It is a sacrifice of God's infinite love for a world that is perishing in sins, and therefore for me and for you, beloved brethren. The Son of God took upon Himself in my stead, and in your place the horrors of eternal justice, the eternal punishment that was set before me and you, drank the cup of the righteous wrath and enmity of God Almighty, which I and you ought to drink; He took upon Himself all the red-hot sharp arrows from God's quiver prepared for sinners, who were to forever strike and burn me and you, an ungrateful and wicked sinner. The eternal righteousness and wisdom of God punished the God-man on behalf of men.

In horror and reverence I bow before the justice of God, before the holiness of the Triune Divinity, which, in sweeping away the unrighteousness of sin and in the sanctification of the sinful man, created in the image and likeness of God, in the person of the Father, deigned to punish the most holy God-man for men, in the person of the Son deigned to become incarnate and to take upon Himself the punishment for all human unrighteousness, and in the person of the Holy Spirit to sanctify repentant sinners,  to renew them, to pour out the tenderest and holiest love into their hearts.

Brethren! Give heed to the mystery. Consider how terrible, disgusting, and hateful to God is the sin that has entered into men, how terrible is the punishment for sin, when the all-holy and righteous Lord did not spare His beloved Son, but delivered Him up for us to such suffering and death. If God's righteousness did this to the green tree, i.e., to the God-man, then what will happen to the dry, barren one, like us sinners?

And so, fellow sinners! Be afraid to add sins to sins, and iniquity to iniquity. Beholding this divine Sufferer, learn to hate and abhor all sin from now on and forever, and to love truth and virtue. But if we add sins to sins intentionally and consciously, and thus crucify the Son of God in ourselves often and repeatedly; if we repent hypocritically and partake of the Divine Mysteries unworthily; if, having confessed and partaken of the Holy Mysteries for purification and sanctification, we live fearlessly, according to the whims of a depraved heart, then these very wounds on the hands and feet, and in the side of our Savior, will not be for salvation, but for condemnation, and even then no one will deliver us from the torments of Gehenna forever and ever.

My brethren! Let us offer to the Lord, Who suffered and died for us, tears of sincere repentance and tenderness, and let us live in unceasing repentance and good deeds. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *