Posts Tagged "Isaiah 52:13–53:12"

A God Who Bleeds; A God Who DIes

April 19, 2019
By Rev. David French

Behold the man on the cross! Here we see the pure love of God in action. The cross is why the eternal Second Person of the Trinity has taken on human flesh. This is where the debt for sin, yours and mine and all who are born of flesh, is paid in full. Behold the man on the cross, bleeding, gasping, suffering, and dying for you.

See His hands that the night before were washing His disciples’ feet. Now they are pinned with nails to the rough crossbeam of this instrument of torture and death. See how the hands that formed Adam out of the dirt of the earth are now clinched and stained with His blood mixed with dirt. See the fingers He used to heal lepers, that He stuck into the ears of a deaf man, that took bread and wine and declared it to be His very body and blood. Now they twitch and jerk uncontrollably each time He strains to pull Himself up as He gasps for each next breath. But this is why God has hands.

See His skin that has been shredded by Roman whips made with lacerating bone chips and bruising metal balls woven into the leather thongs to inflict the most damage to the skin and muscle and so the greatest pain on the one being beaten. See the skin of His back, which is now a bloody canvas of gaping wounds. But this is why God has skin.

See His knees and elbows skinned and bruised from falling under the weight of the sin and the cross He would pay for it on as He was driven and dragged toward Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, where He would be crucified. But this is why God has legs.

See His feet, nailed to the cross. These are the feet that walked from town to town as He taught His disciples, healed the sick, fed the hungry and preached the good news of man’s release from captivity to sin and death. These are the feet that Mary anointed with expensive oil, washed with her tears, and wiped with her hair. See His feet raw and bloody causing unimaginable pain as His weight continually pushes them against the nail pinning them in place. But also notice His heel, that with every flinch of pain is grinding and crushing the head of the serpent, destroying the kingdom of satan to set sinners free.

See His head, with the rivulets of blood flowing from each place one of the thorns on this mock crown has pressed through His skin. See the head that should be crowned with majesty and glory surpassing every earthly king’s crown. See the head over which has been hung the sign listing the charge that brought this death sentence: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. See the head that in death has finally found a place to rest. But this is why God has a head.

See His face, which is bruised and bloodied from the blows first thrown by the High Priest’s officer and later by the soldiers as they mocked Him and called on Him to “Prophesy!” See His eyes, which in the beginning saw all He had made, and called it “very good.” See the eyes that looked with mercy and compassion on the soldiers and crowd, on His disciples, on all of mankind now swollen closed. See His lips which spoke words of absolution but are now dry and cracked from a deeper thirst than you or I will ever know. See how His face contorts in agony and looks anything but human. But this is why God has a face.

See His lungs as they slowly fill with fluid, the lungs that in this hanging posture cannot inhale without the man experiencing the pain that comes with pulling and pushing His body to open His airway. These are the lungs that breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils and so into all mankind. See the lungs that expel one final breath as He cries, “It is finished,” as He gives up His spirit and dies. But this is why God has lungs.

See His bones, which remain unbroken. See how the soldiers with their clubs shatter the legs of each of the thieves crucified with Jesus but did not do the same to Jesus. This is what every Passover lamb, every bull for the whole burnt offering, every scapegoat, every ram, every turtledove ever sacrificed was pointing to, the sacrifice offered by God once for all, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, the One of who it was said not a bone would be broken. But this is why God has bones.

See His side into which the soldier thrust his spear, causing a flow of blood and water to pour out from Him, confirming that He is truly and completely dead, that His heart has stopped beating. See the Christ hanging lifeless in the sleep of death. See how the blood and water that flowed from the side of the crucified God-man will be used by His Father in heaven to form His Church, the Bride prepared for His Son on the day of His resurrection. But this is why God has a side.

See His blood, which pours from His lifeless body, staining the wooden beams of the cross, spilling onto the dirt, reddening the soil, watering His creation. See the blood that He first shed when He was an eight-day-old boy, undergoing the sign by which all Jewish boys were made Israelites. See the blood for which the crowd thirsted and so ironically asked for exactly what they needed, let: “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25).

See the blood that set you free blood that was foreshadowed on every Day of Atonement when the blood of the sacrifice was splattered on the mercy seat, on the altar, and on the people for their forgiveness. See the blood He gave to His disciples in the cup of blessings the night before, telling them it is shed for the forgiveness of sins. This is the blood by which our eternal High Priest entered once for all into the Most Holy Place, giving sinful men access to our holy God and Creator. This is why God has blood.

You see, truly today is no accident. Nor is it a tragedy. Jesus Himself had said, “No one takes it [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).

Dear children of God, what we contemplate this evening is ugly and messy and it is why God became man: not to teach us how to be good, not to show us the right way to live, not to be an example for you to follow and not to impart His divine wisdom. God became a man so that He could be our substitute in death. The sinless life He lived is now by grace through faith offered to you as a gift that you might confidently stand before the Throne of our God knowing your judgement has already been pronounced. Behold the love of God who calls you His own.

In His Name, Amen.

A God Beaten

March 20, 2019
By Rev. David French

You need a God you can punch. You really do. You might not think so. You probably think you’re more pious than that. And it’s probably not how you usually think about God. You think you need a God who will hold your hand as He walks with you and talks with you in some surreal garden in your mind. You think you need Him to lift you onto His shoulders as you’re walking along the beach together, leaving footprints in the sand. You think you need a God who is really, really, big. But you don’t. You actually need a God whose lip you can fatten with a well-placed right cross.

This is the human predicament. Since Adam’s rebellion in the garden, since he ran and hid himself at the sound of God walking in the garden, mankind has been alienated from God. Nothing had changed in God, of course. But everything had changed in Adam and all those born in his image. Adam wanted to be his own god, and so, he turned away from his Creator and the source of his life. You see only a dying Adam would flee from a perfect and Holy Creator.

Since that time, rebellion has been fallen man’s dilemma. Enmity with a holy God is all that sinners have. Sinners hate God. He is holy and they are not. His Law is an offense to their do-it-yourself divinity schemes. God calls His people to be holy just as He is holy. Jesus demanded perfect righteousness, just as the heavenly Father is righteous. No matter what you score on the self- righteousness assessment you take of yourself every morning, you simply are not only not as good as you think you are, you and I and all who are born of sin are simply not good.

The Law is absolute. The Commandments allow no wiggle room, not for a moment and not from the least part of the Law. The result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience was they were banished from the garden, alienated from God, and on their own.

No wonder people prefer a god of their own creation to the Holy God of Scripture, who demands that your holiness perfectly match His. We rather have a god whose son is a good-teacher, or a life-coach, or a model-CEO, or a moral-example, or a nice-guy, or a guru, he would be a perfect fit for your sinful nature. I mean that, let’s call him “Jesus”, wouldn’t have gotten struck in the face, verbally abused, crowned with thorns, whipped, beaten to a pulp, nailed to a cross, or killed. That “Jesus” would have found a god pleasing (that’s with a lower-case g) a god pleasing way to bring everyone together and guide them in working out their differences.

But that god can’t save you. He’s fake, a figment of your imagination. Adam didn’t need a god who encourages him to do better next time. He had eaten. He had disobeyed, rebelled. He is a sinner. And now he needs a God who can plead his case, who will take up his cause, who will bear his flesh and do in his place what he failed to do. He needs a holy God who will offer His holiness as a gift. He needs a God with human flesh who keeps the Law perfectly. He needs a God with a face that can be punched.

Unless He can bear your hatred, God can’t save you. Unless He can receive your blows, God can’t bear your sins. So behold God has become man. Jesus is the God you can punch and He has drawn near, not in wrath, but in mercy.

Behold the man who has come to seek fallen humanity. In Jesus, God walks in the midst of His creation again. And His desire is to draw all men out of their hiding, out of their sin and their shame and unto Himself. Behold, in Jesus God and man are one!

Now the Creator’s question: “Where are you, Adam?” has become “Why do you strike Me?” When asked about His teaching, Jesus answers, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.” And in response Annas commands one of the officers to strike Him in the face. Behold, this is your God and He has a face that can be struck, a back that can be scourged, and hands that can be tied as He is sent to Caiaphas.

Behold the God who allow Himself to be struck by the sinners He seeks to redeem. Behold the servant who will suffer in your place. Behold the One despised and rejected by men, the One who no one esteemed. Behold Him pierced for your transgressions, crushed for your iniquities.

Behold the man upon whom is the chastisement, the punishment that has brought you peace. Behold the wounds by which you are healed. Behold, this is the One who has borne your griefs and carried your sorrows. Behold the man who in your place was stricken, smitten and afflicted by His heavenly Father.

In His flesh, Jesus bears all of mankind’s sinful, rebellious hatred of God. He receives the blows the lashes, the mocking, the being forsaken by God that you and I deserve. All this He gladly suffers for you and for all.

You see His holiness is a gift He gives, not to those who deserve it, but to those who least deserve it. He has borne all of man’s hatred of God, and all the Father’s punishment for man’s rebellion, and He has answered for them with His face, His back, His life.

The solution to your hatred of God, to your desire to punch Him in the face, is not to clench your fists, bite your tongue, and hide what is inside of you. The solution is to confess, to speak in unison with the Law what you know to be true. Your flesh is sinful. It does not desire God. And then, even though you also would have raised a hand against Him, Jesus sends His under-shepherds, His pastors, those men called to pronounce His word of Absolution.

That is as you confess your sin, the pastor raises a hand, not to strike, but to comfort you as He pronounces the verdict of Easter morning: In the stead and by the command of the God-man who bore all your sins, I forgive you in the name of the Father an of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus turns the other cheek. God turns from wrath to mercy. Behold the man who would rather endure shameful abuse at the hands of sinners than allow sinners to have to answer for their own sins. Baptized into Him, you are made holy and whole through His gift of grace, a gift motivated by love, paid for with the blood of His Son, and freely offered to you again this day.

                                                      In His Name, Amen.

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