O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB  
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    Rev. Cameron Schnarr

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Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, Canada
YOUR WOUNDED HEALER

YOUR WOUNDED HEALER

Based on Isaiah 53:1-7

Preached on March 25, 2016


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In Christ, the Man of Sorrows, sisters and brothers! Today we gather to mark the most chilling event in all of human history. This is the day - nearly twenty centuries ago - when creatures rose up and murdered their own Creator. This is the day when people who needed a friend in the worst way decided to destroy the dearest Friend they could ever have. You know the words of the story already. Still, when you pause to ponder what happened that Friday on Skull Hill and everything it means, it is beyond words. Maybe that is why the voices in this chapter of Isaiah's book - 700 years before it all took place - do not give you a long documentary on the events of Good Friday. It's as though these voices can only stand there and behold the dying Jesus and invite you to come to stand beside them. That's because this Jesus came to be, above all things, your wounded Healer. In the brief moments we have together now, I want to touch on all three of those truths: I. He is wounded; II. He's a Healer; and III. He's yours. I. Jesus' wounds and pains actually began well before Good Friday. HE GREW UP BEFORE [the Lord] LIKE A TENDER SHOOT, the voices tell us here, AND LIKE A ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND. Like a helpless little blade of grass springing up in a desert, the Christ came down to our world, a Baby wriggling on a bed of straw. He had to be whisked away from His homeland, since He was hunted already as a Child. God gave Him a caring father and mother. Still, He was lonely because when He was a growing boy even His parents marveled and could not grasp all that He was and all He would have to do. HE HAD NO BEAUTY OR MAJESTY TO ATTRACT US TO HIM, the voices tell us, NOTHING IN HIS APPEARANCE THAT WE SHOULD DESIRE HIM. One of His own disciples asked when he first heard of Jesus, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" He didn't look the part of a King, a Messiah, if you had asked a lot of folks in those days. You don't hear the Scriptures report that He stood a head taller than everybody else, the way young Saul did; or that He was WELL-BUILT AND HANDSOME, as we're told about Joseph when he was serving the Potiphar in Egypt. Jesus commanded no army to back Him up; didn't get the masses to strap on swords and show the Romans who was boss in the Jewish land. He never managed to win the confidence of religious big shots. He seemed unable to overcome his "personal negatives," as the pollsters call them in our political campaigns. Even when He preached once in Nazareth synagogue, the Bible says of His hometown crowd, THEY TOOK OFFENCE AT HIM. In point of fact, there was a lot about Jesus Christ that seemed to repel people, not attract them. Like Job of the Old Testament who suffered so many tragedies, Jesus looked like a loser to many people. He lost out when He was on trial. He couldn't stop them from speaking a death sentence over Him. He didn't even hang on to His closest followers, who all fled in fear when He was arrested. 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. Then came the horrors of this Friday long ago. The voices in Isaiah's book say, WE CONSIDERED HIM STRICKEN BY GOD, SMITTEN BY HIM, AND AFFLICTED. Yes, it looked like He was stricken by God, punished the way Pharaoh was back in Moses' time when the Lord let the guy have it. He was smitten, hit hard - literally! - with whips that were braided, with each strand tied around a jagged piece of pottery or stone designed to inflict maximum pain and to puncture when they landed on His naked back; smitten with sticks like the one the soldiers used to hit Him on the head; smitten with thorns formed together into a toy crown they squashed onto His head so they could have a good laugh over Him; smitten with spikes pounded into His hands and feet so He could not escape or do anything but writhe in pain in the sunshine as His lifeblood dripped away. And He was afflicted, all right; degraded, perforated, crushed in His body, and not only in His body, but also in heart and soul, in mind and feelings. It's just about there where the voices of Isaiah 53 take an unexpected turn: SURELY HE HAS BORNE OUR GRIEFS, they said. HE HAS CARRIED OUR SORROWS. WE HAD FIGURED HE WAS 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. That is strange talk when you really think about it. Wounds don't generally have that affect, do they? Wounds don't heal people. Wounds hurt. Wounds cause blood loss if you don't treat them properly. Wounds can lead to infection. They can kill. Strange as it is, the voices say it, anyway: BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED. II. So the wounded Christ is a Healer! The voices here tell you why. They tell you that His suffering is a substitutionary payment. You can picture how that works in some small matter of everyday life. One of my kids gets a speeding ticket and is fined for that infraction. If the kid hasn't got the money to cover it, good old Dad can fork over the amount and keep the kid out of jail. By my loss, the kid goes free. The court is not going to say, "Oh, Johnny, you haven't got the money to pay? Well, why didn't you tell us that? We're sorry to have upset you! Forget about the fine; just promise ever so nicely you'll never do it again." The court must not operate like that. It cannot pretend the law doesn't matter. In a far deeper, life-and-death way, God's justice cannot pretend that His law does not matter. Human sin - including yours - is a fact God cannot ignore. You can't just wish it away. You can't say, "Well, nobody believes all that old-fashioned stuff anymore; can't we just forget about it?" Human sin must be paid for. The voices of Isaiah 53 are telling you about the wounded Christ that His suffering and His death for the sins of the world have made things right again between God and people. It's all here if you listen carefully: HE HAS BORNE OUR GRIEFS; HE HAS CARRIED OUR SORROWS ... 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. His suffering has brought about the deepest and most crucial healing of all. One of my confirmands in Ontario from years ago, a young aviator named Paul Vandergriendt, was hit by a car in a parking lot last week. He was horribly injured: Broken neck, broken back, multiple fractures, a tear in one lung the likes of which the doctors in Toronto say nobody has ever survived before. I've prayed for him every day since I heard it. He's got the ablest surgeons in the country, I'm told. I have asked God to use their insight and knowledge of the human body to help Paul. But I also begged God to use the healing powers He put in that kid's body long ago when Paul was conceived and born. If you scrape your knee, what good will a Band-Aid do if your body doesn't have the power to heal? If you rip open a human lung, what can a surgeon accomplish if his expert training doesn't have healing power to work with in the patient's body? They repaired the tear a few days ago. Glory to God! Paul's lung has begun functioning again. That's because Lord has placed the power to heal inside human bodies. Healing from the damage done by sin; healing from punishment, healing from sin's pull to make you do what it wants; that healing does not just naturally reside in your body. You have to find it outside yourself. That healing must come from this Jesus, the wounded Healer. There is a direct link between Christ's cross and that most urgent healing you need. There is a straight line between Christ's cross and your personal hope for God's acceptance as you live in this world, as well as your hope for certainty about the life to come. III. You can miss this if you are not careful. The voices of Isaiah 53 are asking, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR MESSAGE AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM (that means the power, the mighty deeds) OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED? They make it sound as though many people don't believe this message or lay hold of it for themselves. The voices understand this from their own experience. They admit straight out that, to start with, they didn't get it either. They thought God's wounded Servant was despised and rejected and stricken and smitten and afflicted because of the wrongs He did. Only later on did it dawn on them that the wounded Servant was enduring all this horror for the sake of the entire human race. THE LORD HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL, they tell us. Yes, who has believed this message? The great apostle Paul before his conversion rejected it for years when he was cheering on the people who killed Christians. He did everything in his considerable power to stamp out any influence Jesus Christ might exert in the world. On Good Friday, the only voice that seemed to understand and confess this wounded Servant was a pagan Roman soldier who SAW HOW HE DIED and SAID, "SURELY THIS MAN WAS THE SON OF GOD!" The voices tell you why it goes like that. In all humility they include themselves: WE ALL, LIKE SHEEP, HAVE GONE ASTRAY, EACH OF US HAS TURNED TO HIS OWN WAY. That's not a flattering picture. We've gone astray like sheep too dense to know what's good for us; like sheep, who run off and do self-destructive things just because that's what all the other sheep are doing these days! If you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that. Think of all the sin with which you have stained your life: the open sins, and the secret sins; the sins you committed against your own body, and the ones you did against the bodies of others; the sins done rashly in a fit of anger, and the ones you schemed and planned out; the sins you fell into so glibly that you aren't even aware of them anymore, and the ones that stick and burn your memory years after you committed them, whether other people found out about it or not; the sins of your childhood, your youth, your adult years. The voices know what they're talking about: WE ALL, LIKE SHEEP, HAVE GONE ASTRAY, EACH OF US HAS TURNED TO HIS OWN WAY. Thank God, it doesn't end there! THE LORD HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL. Speaking now as one sheep to another quite personally: Your straying - all of it, all of it! - is paid for on this cross where God's Son spilled holy blood that covers everything and sets you free. The old Germans had a hymn for the Lenten season that goes like this: Who is faith's abiding stay, Giving comfort on life's way, Who from sin and guilt sets free And obtains God's grace for me? Jesus Christ, the Crucified. Who from sin has made me whole, Life restored to heart and soul, Who can make me strong and true, Stirring me God's will to do? Jesus Christ, the Crucified. Let me say it as clearly as I can: You are forgiven through Jesus, or not at all. You will live eternally because of Jesus, or not at all. Your slate is wiped clean and settled before God in Jesus, or not at all. The healing for your life's most burning needs flows from the cross of Good Friday. HE WAS OPPRESSED AND AFFLICTED, the voices say here at the end of our little reading, YET HE DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH; HE WAS LED LIKE A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, AND AS A SHEEP BEFORE HER SHEARERS IS SILENT, SO HE DID NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. That's right. Jesus did not resist. He didn't try to argue His executioners out of it. He took the death sentence willingly. He did not try to escape it. He went through with it, all for you. This is the rescue God uses to draw you to Christ the Crucified, so that you don't have to be forced or compelled, either, but will want to confess Him willingly and full of love. In the end, we Christians do not glory in big bank balances, in the tributes of other people, or in all the things we figure we accomplished. Instead, we hide ourselves in the holy wounds of Jesus, the Crucified. He is your wounded Healer. He is your life. Amen. Robert Bugbee Pastor