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Eyes on Jesus: God's Eyes

April 10, 2020
By Rev. Peter Heckert

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation for this Good Friday comes from our Gospel text, where Mark writes, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.”  Here ends our text; dear Christian friends…

What did the Father see on Good Friday? He saw His only-begotten Son suffering and dying unjustly on a Roman cross. Can you imagine watching your own child die in this way? It is unfathomable. As sinful mortals, we cannot understand what it is like to be the immortal, holy God, but surely the Father’s heart was grieved beyond words.

What’s more unfathomable is how God loves you so much … that He willingly inflicted this on His beloved Son. Paul wrote to the Romans that the Father “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, and that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait around for us to clean up our act, but while we were ungodly – spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God – He slaughtered His Son in our place, under His righteous anger against the sin of the world.

This means that we provoked the death of Jesus. On Pentecost, Peter told those in Jerusalem, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” The Father gave the Son to the world, but “You crucified and killed Him.” Peter is also talking to you and me. This is an indictment of all sinners, whether in the first century or the twenty-first, the guilt and blame is all the same: we all crucified the Son of God by our sin. Our Lenten hymnody reflects this well:

I caused Your grief and sighing, By evils multiplying As countless as the sands. I caused the woes unnumbered With which Your soul is cumbered, Your sorrows raised by wicked hands.

O child of woe: Who struck the blow That killed our gracious Master? “It was I,” thy conscience cries, “I have wrought disaster!”

As we acknowledge our sin and unworthiness, we need to see ourselves nailing Jesus to the tree, but also understand that His crucifixion was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God the Father.” What value did the Father see in this plan? He saw, and now all of us can see, His own glory being manifested to the world. This is what Jesus prayed for, just hours before His crucifixion: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.”

The Father and the Son glory in having mercy on sinners, and that is what Christ’s perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection accomplished. The Father sees all of your sin taken upon Jesus on the cross, even the sin of crucifying His Son. Moreover, He sees His wrath against sin being poured out upon the Son and the gates of hell prevailing over Him. Yes, hell is being under God’s wrath, and that is what the Father sees Jesus taking, in your place, to save you.

What about the Son’s perspective? What did He see? Jesus’s name means “the Lord saves,” so no doubt He sees Himself as the object of the Father’s wrath but as the subject of your salvation. He drinks the cup of His Father’s wrath down to its dregs, finally crying out in abandonment from His Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But this is no cry of despair. He suffers abandonment from His Father, He suffers the pains of a sinner condemned to hell, but still looks to His Father with perfect love and trust. He cries out “My God,” with unbroken faith. With the words “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” Jesus breathes His last, knowing His Father still loves Him and will raise Him from the dead on the third day.

But on Good Friday, Jesus also sees you and me. He recognizes us as the cause of His woe … and He doesn’t hold this against us. The Lamb of God bears it willingly, wanting nothing other than to be your Savior. He looks at you and then prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He stares into your sinful eyes and says, “I love you all the same. I and My Father love you so much that We would make this sacrifice for you. I am offering Myself under the Father’s wrath in your place to save you from your sins and spare you from hell.”

What does the Holy Spirit see? He sees the Son and comes to Jesus’s aid as He offers His life as a ransom to the Father. We don’t know the ins and outs of this, but the epistle to the Hebrews says that Christ, “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14), thus accomplishing your redemption by the blood of His cross. Jesus had received the Spirit without measure in His Baptism, and we know that the Spirit is the Helper, so it makes sense that the Holy Spirit not only helped Jesus fulfill all righteousness during His earthly ministry but also helped Him offer Himself to the Father on the cross.

The Spirit also sees that everything necessary for the salvation of sinners is achieved by the Son. Jesus had promised that, too, just hours before His death, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth . . . He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.”  At Golgotha, we see the Holy Trinity working together in their natural perfect harmony. The Father gave the Son the task of redeeming mankind. The Son willingly took this task upon Himself. And the Holy Spirit joyfully proclaims this message to you so you may enjoy the benefits of the Son’s sacrificial death.

The Spirit takes what is Christ’s and declares it to you. He takes the righteousness of Jesus and instills it in the waters of Holy Baptism to make it a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of new birth into God’s eternal kingdom. He takes the forgiveness of Jesus and declares it to you through the Gospel and through the words of absolution. And He presents to you the body given and blood shed for you on the cross to be received for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in Holy Communion.

On Good Friday, God’s eyes see everything necessary to save you from sin, death, and hell. Although your own eyes look upon your guilt, unworthiness, and impurity, the Father looks upon your sin forgiven for Christ’s sake, the Son credits His own righteousness to your account, and the Holy Spirit makes you a participant in the holiness of Jesus. You are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so keep this truth before you: When God looks at you, He sees the apple of His eye, His beloved child united with Christ in His death and raised up to new, eternal life with Him.

+ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.