Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed! Amen.
In the name of Jesus who died for the sins of the world – dear Christians;
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written” “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” So wrote Paul to the Galatians. How did Christ redeem us? He became a curse for us. He took our place. The chief tenet of Christianity must be Christ for us. So we see today as we stand at the foot of the cross. We see Jesus hanging on a tree – cursed for us. Cursed so that we will not be cursed, punished so we will not be punished, and killed that we will not die. So today we behold the Lamb of God hanging on the tree of the cross for us! On this day, just outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the place of the skull we see the awful, glorious sight – A Lamb Sacrificed for us!
See your dear Savior as he is crushed for your iniquities! Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we consider him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus did the heavy lifting for us. We were too weak and frail to labor under the burden of our many sins so he carried our infirmities and sorrows. He not only paid for our sin, he also suffered the consequences of living in a sinful world. In his life he wept, he was filled with compassion for others, he went hungry and thirsty – he suffered for us. We deserve to be forsaken by God – but Jesus did that for us. So we see him stricken, smitten, and afflicted. The wages of sin is death. Death is what we had earned for ourselves. But Jesus was pierced, run through, or suffered death for us – all because of our transgressions. We deserve the just and horrific wrath of God – Jesus took that for us. He was crushed for our iniquities. Take a look at that lifeless body after it was pierced through and see how Jesus emptied himself for you. Giving his very life for you!
We often used the word crushed in an emotional sense. As in, I was crushed when they told me the news. Consider the emotional toll that this Friday took on Jesus. He is the perfect, pure innocent Son of God – but now he carries on his soul the sins of the whole world. Now he feels the guilt of all sinners. Now he is punished for us. Without him there is no forgiveness – but we note with great thanks, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. He was wounded for us not just physically! Who could bare the pain of rejection! He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was forsaken for us – so that we will never be forsaken by God.
Take in the scene! Listen to the loving words he speaks! “Father, forgive them!” “Today you will be with me in paradise.” “Dear woman, here is your son. Here is your mother.” Hear him groaning in pain. Listen to the crowds jeer and taunt. He does this all for us! For you! For me!
This is the deep love that God has for you even though you are indeed a poor, miserable sinner. Here is your salvation on display. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This love moved Jesus to willingly go to the cross where he was crushed for us. This means that our sins are gone!
Now Isaiah paints the big picture for us. That picture contains an ugly likeness of ourselves. We are portrayed in all our ugliness, our vileness as God’s enemies – those who refuse to listen and obey. So the prophet describes: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. Yes, we were brought into this world in sin. We stand condemned from the first breath. This original sin shows itself in our disobedience and our selfish insistence on going our own way. We are people that find it comfortable and convenient to walk the selfish, stubborn path of sin. You know the steps you have taken on that path! You know were you have gone astray in thoughts, words, and actions. You know your thoughts and desires. You know the feelings in your heart. You know where you have acted outside the way the Lord commands. Today is the day we stand looking at the cross knowing that this is all our fault. Our sins put Jesus on that cross. We are guilty.
But something amazing happens here at the cross. This is why we can’t take our eyes off our beaten, bloodied, crushed Savior. Here on this horrible hill outside the holy city God makes sin go away. He deals with sin decisively. He undoes what the old evil foe had done back in the garden. He cleanses our hearts and comforts us by removing our guilt. He puts all the sin and guilt on Jesus and punishes him instead of us – for us! And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all! This Lamb of God sacrificed on the cross declares, “It is finished!” There he announces the best news ever. He says to you and to me and to the whole world of guilty sinners – Your sins are forgiven! He invites us to believe this and find our comfort in it.
In response to this great news and encouraging us to a proper response to God’s love demonstrated on the cross, Martin Luther writes, “Consider the price of this ransom, look carefully at this captive. He is the Son of God who is greater than all creation. How will you respond when you hear that such a priceless ransom was paid for your sins? Will you still want to offer your works done under the Law? What is the works of all men, the suffering of the martyrs, and the obedience of the holy angels compared with what the Son of God has given in his death, even death on a cross?
Our iniquities are gone, our sin atoned for – our debt is paid in full! So let us be comforted at the foot of the cross today. We know with all certainty that God loves us! We know heaven is open by Jesus – he is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him! Let us also be encouraged at the foot of the cross – encouraged to thank our Lord with lives of service to him who saved us. May this moment at the foot of the cross focus our attention on our Savior – so we are comforted in his forgiveness and so we are compelled to live our lives for him! Lord, thank you for your dying love! Amen.