O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
The Lamb of God Who Bore Our Shame
The Lamb of God Who Bore Our Shame
Based on Isaiah 53:3-7
Preached on April 14, 2017
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Fellow baptized saints, in a world driven by marketing and fixated on entertainment, Good Friday seems a little out of step. There is nothing entertaining about the cross, and there's no way to draw or tweet or emoticon a smiley face on the crucifixion. No matter how you slice it, there's just no way to sell the cross. And there's nothing entertaining about this day. But then, that's the way it should be. This day is not called happy Friday. It is Good Friday. God’s Friday.
God the Son did not come down from heaven to make us happy. He was not incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary to make us happy. He was not made man and crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate to make us happy. It was not to make us happy that He suffered and was buried or on the third day rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. Jesus Christ is interested in much more for you -than mere happiness. His burning intent is nothing less than your eternal joy.
Christ endured the cross, scorning its shame, for the one joy that was set before Him — that He might swallow up death forever in His own death — even though it meant He had to set aside His glory and embrace our shame to do it. All this, and more, is what puts the "good" into Good Friday.
Shame. The word alone makes us crawl. Run. Hide. Shame is sin gone public – gone viral. Shame is the last thing we want. But not with Christ – Jesus comes for shame. He is willing to have His shame trending – because the last thing Jesus wants is for you to be lost, for you to be afraid, for you to be alone – so if He must suffer shame – if He must be humiliated in a way we can scarcely understand – so be it. He is the Lamb of God who bore the shame of the world. That's what was going on that first Good Friday. Though He is in Himself pure and holy, He was carrying all our shame in that pure and holy body of His that day. That's why He looked so bad on that day we call "good."
It was not a happy scene that day, was it? He Himself was not happy. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
You want to look – but you don’t want to look. Because He is an utter shame. Better to leave Him alone. Jesus walked the walk of shame through the busy streets of Jerusalem that day. Guilty. Naked. All tortured and bloody. Carrying His own wooden death on His back. We don’t know what to make of this today – we don’t torture criminals in front of everyone – and we don’t execute them publicly either – we certainly don’t parade them naked through the streets and force them to carry their own instrument of death. Can you even imagine what this would be like? The crowds gathered to mock Him. He was a criminal. A fraud. And as He trudged – the soldiers laughed and spit on Him and beat Him. The shame of the world – on One man – and the biggest shame of it all – is that we did this to God Himself.
What a mystery! It looked for all the world like Jesus was the worst sinner who had ever lived. And in a very real way – He was. For He became our sin and shame. Isaiah writes: ... we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. It looked as though He deserved to die; otherwise, why would God be punishing Him?
And so we learn an important lesson today: we learn to look for God not in external circumstances, but to find Him hidden under the opposite. He reveals His glory in His shame, His joy in His sorrow, His comfort wrapped in His suffering and pain. For things were not as they appeared that Good Friday. It looked as though Jesus was stricken and smitten by God because of His own sin, when in reality it was our sins that hurt Him so. This the prophet underscores in these words: ...we considered 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.
At the cross, in His great agony of body and soul, the Son of God opened up the heart of God for the whole world to see. There it blooms. It shines forth. God’s heart is wide open, defenceless, vulnerable. Things are not what they appear to be. Hidden under Christ's agony and excruciating suffering we can see the Father's love in action. Not one of us would give up his son to save another, but at the cross God the Father sacrificed His Son, His only Son, the Son whom He loved, to remove the curse of our sin. At the cross, shame and love flow together from the pierced wounds of God’s Lamb. God’s heart bleeds for you openly in public shame.
And you know shame – you know it too well – you wish you didn’t know it... that sense of being contaminated, defiled, filthy, unclean - like a dark, dirty trap. But shame is on the inside – and it only gets worse when it shows itself on the outside. It leaves you all alone – very alone – cut off from everyone and isolated from God. It makes you want to die – just escape – escape – escape.
But Look! There is One who didn’t run. He didn’t escape – because He wanted His blood to cover your shame. He wanted His wounds to heal your heart. He wanted your shame to die in Him – and by His cross and death – this Lamb of God has bore away all our shame. 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.
That healing is yours this very day. The wounds of Jesus are strength for the weary, consolation for the sorrowing, healing for the walking wounded. Thank God, there is room at the cross for sinners who grieve and mourn their sin. Sinners who know their transgression, whose sin is ever before them. Sinners who know the bitter taste left over in their mouths from angry words they have spoken; Sinners whose eyes burn from the foul images they’ve stared at on computer screens, sinners whose lives are strewn with the wreckage of sin and the anguish of hurt; sinners who feel in their bones the wretched refuse of foul and polluted thoughts - and who the know the heft of the awful weight of shame and guilt which comes from sins of thought and word and deed.
But now all that is over and done. Because this is a fallen world, your life might not always be a happy life, but it will always remain a good life in Jesus, the Lamb who took your shame and killed it in His own body. That's all done now. Gone- Buried - thanks be to God.
After all, notice the thrust of each power-packed phrase in our text: He was pierced, He was crushed, our punishment was upon Him. All of that, you see, is now long past. The bitter agony, the bloody sweat, the suffering soul, the dying breath. All of that lies in the past, forever over and done. But the last and best part continues now and lasts forever — and that is what He gives you this very day: with His stripes we are healed.
Every wounded heart and hurting soul can find its health restored today in this Lamb of God. There is a cure for all that ails your sin-sick soul in the words of Jesus, for they are Spirit and they are Life for you today. "It is finished," hear Him say.
You can take Him at His Word. Now is vanquished sin and death and hell. Now the whole ugly record of our sin and all its shame is set aside, nailed up with Jesus on His cross, done away with in His death. Now the power of darkness is defeated and the fury of God's wrath is silenced. Now the fears that haunt us are dissolved, now even the grave itself can never separate us from the love of God in Christ His Son.
For Jesus is the Lamb of God who bore our shame away. Therefore in awestruck wonder we pray this holy day: "Have mercy on us, Jesus. Grant us your peace. Amen."
Rev. Cameron Schnarr