A Talk Before the Burial Shroud on Great Friday


Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world
(John 1:29)

Behold, my brethren, the Lamb of God, who has taken upon Himself our sins, my sins, the sins of each of you. Here is the only begotten Son of God incarnate, tortured by human envy and malice! What humanity! Oh, how grim, how disgusting is the picture of human malice! Let us fall before Him in confession and weep before the Lord, who created us and suffered and died for us at the end of the ages. With fear and love let us fall with our hearts and lips to these wounds. With fear, for our sins now stink before Him and cry out for our punishment; with love, for these wounds and His death were raised by Him out of unspeakable love for us, and naturally, call us to love!

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. How gratifying these words are for the soul of the believer! In them lies our strong hope for the infinite mercy of the Heavenly Father, who was reconciled to us lawless ones through the sacrifice of righteousness offered on the cross for our sins; that is, the infinite sacrifice of His Son. How many times have we sinned in one day and one hour, not to mention the sins of our whole accursed life! How our sins tormented us! But now we have repented with faith and heartfelt hope, we have looked to the Savior, sighed, shed tears for our sins; and they are cleansed, washed, forgiven; we have found peace, freedom, and joy.

What does this mean? This means that the Lamb of God will take away our sins every day, every hour, all the days of our life; He takes away, cleanses, and forgets them, freeing us from eternal condemnation for them. Who hasn’t experienced this themselves? And that is why, with such a bloodstained, soul-shaking spectacle, we stand trustfully, albeit with sadness—yet this sadness is imbued with emotion, joy and a kind of solemnity, for we are convinced that in this Dead Man lies the life of all living, reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

All over the universe, Christians now venerate the Savior’s wounds with the most reverent emotion and kiss them with tenderness, and everywhere the life-giving power of the saving sufferings and death of the Lord is felt by all the hearts of believers—for He will unceasingly and everywhere take away the sins of all penitent sinners. He has mercy, He cleanses, renews, and saves.

O, our Savior! From how many spiritual deaths have You saved me and each of us! I confess today, at this hour, before this pious assembly, O my Savior, Your mercies, revealed to me as a sinner above all people, that You saved me from countless spiritual deaths, saved me and are saving me from all sorrows, from all kinds of sins. And it is only by Your mercy that I have not hitherto been in the pit of perdition—for I will say with the prophet David: Mortal torments have overtaken me, the torrents of iniquity have crushed me; the chains of hell have encircled me, and the nets of death have entangled me. . . I called upon the Lord and called upon my God. (Ps. 17:5-7), and He always graciously bowed to the cry of my heart, showed me His miraculous salvation, forgave my sins, destroyed my sorrows, and brought me out of terrible narrowness to breadth.

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away my sins! Behold, the Lamb of God, who also takes away your sins! Come, with tears of repentance and with love we will kiss the wounds of this Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world. But You, O most uncountable Charity, Lord of heaven and earth, send down also Your blessing on us, arouse in us sincere repentance and unfeigned love; be patient also with the world, which is perishing in sins, and awaken it from the heavy sleep of sin by Your amazing signs. Amen.

St. John of Kronstadt
Translation by Igumen Seraphim (Bell)



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