Zechariah 9:9-10

Psalm 31:1-5, 9-16

Philippians 2:5-11

Mark 15:1-39



“Palms to Passion”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Each year we gather one week before Easter to wave around palm branches, celebrating the coming Lord as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. He came in a humble manner, yet the people who believed in Him wanted to give their laud and praise to this Rabbi, this Prophet, this King. They lined the street to the gate cheering and giving hoorays as they waved their palm branches around, kind of like how we might wave around foam number one hands at a game or various lights at a concert. This was no king, he was a celebrity. He has healed the sick, turned water into wine, raised the dead, and feed thousands upon thousands. His words are full of wisdom and authority, and He is approachable. This King is like no other king. So they treated him differently than Herod or Pilate or the Pharisees, they treated him the same way we today treat the celebrities we fantasize over.

 

Today, if we found out people such as actors, singers, sportsmen were to show up we would get all in a tizzy just to get one glimpse, let alone a handshake or signature. Oh, they’re hosting a concert at the nearby theater? Let us figure out what route they might use to get to the concert so we can get a photoshoot. Let us order the tickets as soon as we possibly can so we can throw half our wage to get that front seat. Let us wear ridiculous amounts of fan gear to catch their attention and notice just how much of a die heart we are. And if they are walking down a fenced path let us get as close to the path as early as possible so that when the time comes we could reach over the bars and just get a touch of the singer’s clothes.

 

Oh, a scene for an upcoming movie is being filmed at a nearby city? Isn’t, I don’t know, Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks or Morgan Freeman, in the movie? Let us get a closer view, maybe even sign up as an extra background pedestrian in the movie so we can say to our great-grandkids, “When I was your age, I was an actor. In fact I was filmed with this once famous actor… Here let me show you… Ah! Here is the scene. Behind Tom Hanks, in that giant crowd of people, you see that hand waving in the air near the back? That’s me.”

 

We go to great lengths for the ones we turn into celebrities, and for Jesus, as He entered into Jerusalem, the people there went to great lengths to figure out which gate Jesus was to enter into, to have palms prepared, to get off work; even centurions came, though probably most didn’t come for Jesus particularly. There was much excitement and joy and mirth and shouts of hosannas. So much so that the Pharisees, aghast, asked Jesus to discipline these disciples who were making an unsightly spectacle of themselves.

 

This day seemingly marked a day of extreme happiness for the King has finally arrived at His Kingdom. But such quickly turned sour, for in a matter of days, Jesus was to be crucified. Just days… the saying is most certainly true here, “Well that escalated quickly!” For it was a Sunday that Jesus entered Jerusalem surrounded by adoring disciples and citizens. The next day, Jesus cleared the Temple and it went downhill from there. We welcomed you with open arms and you come in like a bull in a china shop, quiet literally. He upended everything: in Matthew 21 it says He drove out sellers and customers, He destroyed property of those abusing His home, He accused them of being a den of robbers, He allowed the sick to enter the sanctuary, and He even allowed obnoxiously loud children into the temples. He most certainly upended everything, and the Pharisees who ran the place and many others such as those merchants were not happy. The plot to kill this usurper, to kick Him out of their Home which they have made comfortable, regardless of their unscriptural shenanigans, was underway. And today’s Gospel, was the result of their conspiring.

 

Less than one week! Less than one week! It’s not like they were already conspiring to kill Him. Yet, all it took was one week for the Pharisees to whip up Jerusalem into a frenzy against this Usurper. We were hoodwinked into believing this man was the King of the Jews, He is no King! He upended our way of life and criticized our practices within the Church and without our consent included various practices that we detest, such as letting the sick and kids in the church. One week, and they killed this bull who dared destroy their precious heretical china shop.

 

So they in the end delivered this man to Pilate to start the process of leading Him to His death. Now this was not your usual trial, for this was a shame trial, controlled by the court of public opinion, controlled by the real puppet masters, the Pharisees, who acted as the trusted source of news for the common people. Though Jerusalem was under Roman control, with Pilate as governor, it was the frenzied mob and their intimidating chief priests and elders and scribes who were really in control. Pilate was a good Soldier boy, and he wanted Jerusalem to be at peace. Therefore He wasn’t the one truly in control, but the angry mob who threatened civility.

 

So when the priests handed Jesus over to Pilate, the very man who was hailed as King of the Jews just days ago, what do you think He said; “Are you the King of the Jews?” If Jesus said yes then He would have been tried a heretic; if He said no then He would have been tried for admitting He was a heretic. So, impressing Pilate, Jesus said, “You have said so,” and gave no further reply. Pilate did not want to see Jesus dead, but he was a Soldier who prized good order, and for the sake of good order, allowed the mob to control the trial rather than give Jesus a fairer one. Pilate went so far as to allow the Jews to choose between Jesus and a mass murderer who caused an insurrection, Barabbas. In their illogical and irrational rage, blinded by hatred, they said it was better to let this mass murderer go than to let The Son of Man, whom they themselves called King of the Jews, go.

 

“Why? What evil has he done?” said Pilate, bewildered, by the extreme revulsion oozing out of this horde. And what was their response? Crucify Him! They need no reason. Why, when blinded by hatred, by feelings, facts or evidence means squat. Who needs reason when all you need is an angry mob to get things done? And it worked; Pilate caved, and gave up on saving Jesus. Pilate was the last safeguard to prevent Jesus’ death, and he failed. He chose satisfying the mob over satisfying true good order. He chose the easy route over the right route. He was not a bad man, but he was definitely weak, for when it mattered most, when the ugly monster of irrational hatred reared its face, He croaked. Now no one could save Jesus. His fate was sealed, not like it already was.

 

All of this was already foretold in Scripture. Jesus is indeed the King of the Jews, but what does that mean? It means He had to die to save every one. Jesus didn’t give up, nor did He give into the mob. He had a mission to fulfill. His fate was already sealed. He did not deserve to die, yet he did nothing to prevent His death. There is a reason why he waited to go to Jerusalem. It was not His time to die. He knew the moment He entered into Jerusalem the gears would start moving, and everything foretold about His death would be set in motion.

 

All it took was one week. In the beginning they praised Him as King of the Jews. In the end they mocked Him as King of the Jews. And it wasn’t until He died, too late, that they realized, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we humans are weak and give into our emotions so easily, especially when the devil whispers sweat words into our ears against you. Shield us from His influence and help us to see your amazing love for us. In your name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

For the season of Lent, these Wednesdays, we will be reading from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, but only three verses at a time. Today we read:

 

Isaiah 53:10-12

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

It was the will of the Lord to crush the Servant. It was the will of the Lord to put His Servant to grief. His Servant is to be an offering. His Servant is to be a Sacrifice. A Sacrifice for what, but our sins?

In the days of old, after Moses descended from the mountain and provided for God’s people the Law, it was ordered that the Israelites were to provide offerings for the forgiveness of their sins. These offerings were not meant to please the Lord, for the Lord does not delight in offerings. No, these offerings were sacrificial, to die in lieu of the just punishments the Israelites deserve for their sins. God does not delight in offerings because they are a sign that His people still act against Him. Offerings are a sign that we still sin and are disobedient. So if God doesn’t like offerings then does that mean we shouldn’t give them? Far from it for God detests sin and death above all else. He wants us to live, truly live, eternal lives void of sin, but God cannot have sin within Him and all sin does is destroy our connection with God. God detests sin, and if we do not ask for forgiveness then we would suffer the consequences of our sins. To provide offerings was not only a sign of repentance but also an act of allowing something else to die in your stead. God does not want us to die, he wants us to live, yet we sin, so he gave us the means of forgiveness.

Whereas God is quick to forgiving, He detests the very fact He has to forgive. Out of His kindness, he does forgive, he wants us to be connected to Him. He detests the very fact He has to forgive because that is proof we are sinners. God wishes us to live sinless lives. He doesn’t want to see us suffer the consequences of sin. He doesn’t want to put in a situation where He must continually forgive us. Yet we are failures, fallen humans, filled will sin, who decide by our own powers to keep on sinning. We are not righteous.

So God sent this Servant to be the Offering of all Offerings, the Sacrifice of all Sacrifices. He was to die for all sin. He was to be offered up as a sacrifice to bore our sins and our transgressions so we want have to. This Sacrifice, which was void of sin, became a curse, so that we who are cursed may become void of sin. This Servant, who was righteous, became the greatest of sinners, so that we who are sinners may be made righteous.

Someone had to suffer for our sins. So this Righteous Servant of God suffered for our sake. And out of His suffering, out of His anguish, this servant who would not sin against, was able to see that through His actions, we who did sin against Him, called Him to be crucified, were, through faith, being transformed, and He was satisfied.

His mission was complete. He finally fulfilled all of Scripture through this single act. Even though He suffered, He was glad. Satisfied for He was able to do that which He intended to do. His intent ultimately was not to give Himself up, this Righteous Servant. Again, God does not delight in offerings. But he had to give Himself up as it was the only way to accomplish His true intent, to wash us of our sins and make us righteous so that through death and faith in Him we too may live in righteousness, and thus eternally. This was His goal. And as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered to the point of death on that Cross, seeing His goal finally accomplished, He let out a sigh, “It is finished.”

 

Let us pray

 

Dear Heavenly Father, your Son is indeed Righteous, and without Him we would be lost, rejected, suffering because of our own sin, and dead. He didn’t have to suffer, but for our sake, in order to save us, He gave Himself up. Help us never to forget our sins, but instead live with gratitude in our hearts for Christ’s amazing sacrifice. In your most Holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Numbers 21:4-9

Psalm 27:1-9

Ephesians 2:4-10

John 3:14-21



“A Different Serpent”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Usually when talking about serpents our mind goes towards Satan. For example, the most common reference of serpents that our mind goes to is the creation story with Satan disguised as a serpent tricking Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Now, there is a reason why the term “snake’s tongue” is used to reference those with crafty and charismatic yet tricky and ill-intended speech. There is a reason why many are compelled to view politicians and lawyers who speak too smoothly as serpent’s who possess “snake tongues”. Jesus Himself called the politically motivated Pharisees “serpents” because, though they spoke beautifully and as if they had knowledge, their words were full of malice. It all goes back to Satan, that ancient serpent.

 

When we think of serpents, not only are we reminded of the craftiness of Satan, we are also reminded of the curse God brought down upon Satan for his treachery against humanity. Satan’s ultimate curse was to struggle against mankind. Serpents were to be the most cursed of all creatures on Earth; the offspring of the Serpent and the offspring of Eve will forever fight against each other. Many already know this, but what is the most feared animal on Earth? Snakes! As youth, it is spiders, but then we grow out of that fear and come to realize that the animal we truly need to fear, mostly for our children’s sake, are snakes. The struggle between serpent and humanity has been one since creation and still exists today.

 

And outside of the creation story, we reference this ancient serpent other times, to include Revelations. This is the same serpent who tricked Eve, Satan, but now, in Revelations Chapter 12, it’s talking about Satan’s struggle against Mary. Revelation Chapter 12 is not about prophesying what is yet to come but revealing, giving revelations, on what has already happened. Satan, the Ancient Serpent, was cast out of Heaven, and eventually he turned his eyes towards Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and her offspring. And through Herod he guided the Romans to commit mass genocide against infants in hopes of conquering Jesus, but Mary escaped to the wilderness, to Egypt. He failed, and ultimately, eventually through the blood of Christ, foretold, the Serpent failed again. Now the Serpent turns his eyes again, away from Mary, away from Christ, but towards the brothers and sister of Christ, us Christians who keep God’s commandments and hold firm to the testimonies of Jesus.

 

There are a myriad of references to snakes, most connecting serpents with the devil, but I ask you this, are all references to snakes in the Bible so negative? Are all references towards snakes connected directly to Satan? Our reading in Numbers and today’s Gospel would prove the answer is no. Not all references of serpents are bad. When the Israelites grumbled about the wilderness, God sent fiery serpents, incredibly venomous serpents against them as punishment, and many died because of this punishment.

Now at this point many of you might be thinking, now Pastor, did you not say that not every reference of serpents is negative? This reference here seems pretty negative. Where’s the positive reference of snakes, you may ask? Well I’m almost there. For as soon as many started to suffer and die for their transgressions against God through the venom of these serpents, Many went to Moses, and Moses in turn went to God, and all started to plead to God for mercy, acknowledging that they are sinners and have sinned against God. In response, God told them to make a serpent, place it on a pole, and all who look upon it will survive the serpent’s venom. Moses did what he was told and made for the Israelites a bronze serpent which was placed on a pole.

 

The symbol of the bronze serpent is not a negative reference, but one that points us towards hope, healing, and forgiveness. There is a reason why one of the symbols in medicine is a serpent on a staff, though there is that one symbol with two serpents. Many would tell you this symbolism comes from Greek Mythology, but where did they, the Greeks, get their symbolism? It is all rooted in this story by Moses, for God through Moses gave the serpent a more positive imagery, one of healing.

 

Now before I get falsely accused of comparing Jesus to Satan through the usage of serpents, I ask this, when God deemed all of his creation on Earth as good did that include the serpent? The serpent was indeed created good; it was Satan who twisted the serpent. So here is God reclaiming His creation, and redeeming it as good once again; for whereas Satan is The Serpent, not all serpents are, or are of, Satan. Therefore, the serpent we talk of now is not Satan, but a different serpent.

 

In today’s Gospel it reads, “And [just] as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so [too] must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus is to be like the bronze serpent lifted by Moses; which is a different serpent. For whereas serpents are traditionally associated with evil; the bronze serpent which Jesus associates with is one of good, it is a different serpent. Not one that brings pain and ultimately death, but one sacrificed so that all who look upon it and believe will be saved. All those who suffered the venom of those fiery serpents believed in God and the Words of God provided by Moses. Therefore, out of faith toward God, they turned their eyes up to the bronze serpent and were cured of the venom that was killing them. Like-wise, all those who suffer sin and the result of sin, which is death, yet have true faith in Christ, turns their eyes up towards the Cross and the lifted up Messiah, and through the Cross are healed of their transgressions, are forgiven of their sins, and are saved from true death.

 

Now there is an interesting connection here. In the story of Moses, many sinned against God and because of their sins the consequence was death via snake venom, yet out of faith toward God if they turned their eyes toward the bronze serpent they would be saved. In today’s Gospel, all have sinned and because of our sins we are all condemned to Hell, yet out of faith toward Christ if we turn our eyes toward the Cross we would be saved.

 

All have sinned, all have failed God, none have completely obeyed the Law, none can completely obey the Law. Why? Because we are sinners. God cannot have any sin within Him, so because of our sins, we are already doomed to Hell, doomed to eternal death, away from God the source of all life. In addition, because of our sins, we are already dead. Because of our sins, we have turned away from God, the source of life, and become like the walking dead. We are already condemned, therefore when Christ came He did not come to condemn us, for we are already condemned, no He came to save us. Save us from our sin. He did not come to abolish the Law, He did not come to change or add to the Law, He came to fulfill the Law, by being the Sacrifice mentioned in the first chapter of Leviticus. And He came for both the Jews who are under the Law and the Gentiles who do not know they are under the Law, for all are under the Law, therefore all are in need of Forgiveness. So, like the Good Serpent, Jesus came so that He too may be lifted up as a sacrifice for the forgiveness and healing of all who looks upon Him with faith, and through Him may have not death but eternal life.

 

Now the forgiveness of Christ should not be used as a means to keep on sinning, or as an excuse to claim there is no such thing as sin, or to claim that the Law has been replaced by a new covenant. The Law still remains and we are still sinners, yet, the forgiveness of Christ is readily available to those who repent of their sins and will always be readily available. The Cross still remains, it has not been taken down, therefore the opportunity to cast our eyes on it and receive the healing powers of forgiveness is still available and, until second coming, will always be available.

 

We regularly label Jesus as the Lamb of God, as a Sacrificial Lamb, and other such names referring to Lambs and sheep. Today, let us also reflect on Christ in light of the bronze serpent lifted by Moses. For Christ is like that bronze serpent, a different serpent, not one of death, but one of self-sacrifice and healing and forgiveness; a good serpent that was lifted up so that all may look upon it and be healed, not merely healed of snake venom, but healed from the venom of that ancient serpent, Satan himself, and his venom is known as sin.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, in our darkness you send us your Son to be lifted up like the bronze serpent and die so that we may live, giving up his own life not to condemn the world, but to save it from its own sins. Give us the strength to continue to cast our eyes on Jesus to give up our weaknesses, our sins, so that we may live peaceable lives void of shame and guilt. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 51:11-16

Hebrews 5:7-9

John 12:20-33



“The Hour Comes”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Death comes to us all. We all know that we will die, but not when nor how nor in what manner. We may have an idea, we may have near certainty when and how our death will occur as our hour draws nearer and nearer, but one never truly knows. No one with sheer certainty, through their own devices determine exactly when and how we will expire from this life. We know it will happen, but that is the only certainty do we have. Oh we can get close to understanding the ways of the world and even closer to foretelling our coming end through the help of medicine, mathematics, and other such things, but one cannot know with sheer certainty.

 

We are not the authors of our lives. We are not God. We are free through Jesus, but this freedom is from sin and the sting of death and from true death. Yet this freedom does not give us the luxury to determine when our temporal deaths may occur.

 

One day we may have cancer and think that our eminent death comes near, only for a miracle to happen that rids our body of all signs of the life threatening condition. Gone is the certainty of death. One day we may be as fit as a fiddle with no concerns in the world and or life is snuffed out in the quickest of flashes, either by stroke or bullet or some freak accident. Gone is the certainty of temporal life.

 

We do not know our hour or when it will come, we dare not know, so we instead treat each day as if it is our last, while at the same time intending that a next day will follow. We cannot count the number of hairs are on our head, nor the stars in the sky, so neither can we determine the number of minutes in our lives. But there is one who knows all to include our coming hour, as well as His own coming hour. We do not know our hour; Jesus, on the other hand, did know.

 

Throughout all of Scripture, His death was foretold and in what manner. Scripture foretold also why he had to die. Now who is the author of Scripture? Ultimately, who is the source of these prophecies that foretell of the coming Messiah and His death? Well God. And is not Jesus also God? Therefore is not Jesus the author of the Old Testament? Is He not speaking to us through Scripture, telling us, providing for us prophecies, of the coming Messiah? Of course! Jesus is His own author, but God the Father is also the author of Jesus, who directs Jesus who perfectly obeys the Father. But in the end, Jesus, who is God, knew exactly when and in what manner He was to die, as to why He was to die. This is because He is the author, He is the Way, the Truth, and Life itself. He knew.

 

He gave us plenty of warning, not just in His life, such as in today’s Gospel when He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” but also through the Old Testament. Jesus literally speaks to us through Scripture, such as through Isaiah, about His coming death. To those of you who attend our Wednesday Lenten Services, you know what I mean. For this season of Lent I have been giving short meditations on the section of Isaiah commonly referred to as the Suffering Servant, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This section of Isaiah is only 15 verses long, so each Wednesday I have been preaching 3 verses at a time. The themes, broken down were, week one: the “Lifted Servant”, week two: the “Despised Servant”, three: the “Burdened Servant”, last week: the “Silent Servant”, and this coming Wednesday, to wrap it all up with Isaiah 53:10-12, the “Righteous Servant”. These 15 verses are just a few of the many verses throughout Scripture where Jesus literal tells us about His death, even before He is born. Therefore He, and only He and the Father, knew the when, the how, and the why.

 

Now before Jesus said in the Gospel, “The hour has come,” there were multiple times when Jesus said the hour had not come and escaped potential death. This includes earlier in the Gospel of John, the beginning of chapter 7 to be exact, when Jesus refused to go to Judea against the discretion of His disciples, but rather went to Galilee because the Jews in Judea were seeking to kill Him. Then, Jesus said, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”

 

Jesus knew His time had not yet come then, for He knew when the appropriate hour was supposed to be, in order for Scripture to be fulfilled. In today’s Gospel, that hour has arrived. It is time for all the cogs to move towards Jesus’ death. It is time for the final act to begin. It is time for the final verse to be sung. It is time for the final lap in Jesus’ race. It is time to pull the net in, to reel in the line. It is the time for the great harvest. It is time for the final chapter in a book. The final hour has come, the hour of all hours, the climax of human history, when the Son of Man is to be glorified, lifted on a tree for all to see. Good Friday arrives.

 

Yet, because Jesus knows that His hour has indeed finally arrived, He finds that now His soul is troubled. What does He say? This is the culmination of all He has worked for. This is the hour of fulfillment. Yet Jesus, who is the God of the Living, is to fulfill Scripture through His death. So He is troubled. He does not want to die. He does not want to suffer. He does not want to go to Hell, which is the complete opposite of His entire divine nature. He proclaims, “What shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour’?” He cannot say that, for that would also be contrary to His divine nature, and His entire mission. He was born so that He might die. And because of his divine nature, He must fulfill this mission, for to not do such would be disobedience, and disobeying God is sin, and Jesus can’t disobey Himself or His Father, nor can God have any sin within Him, therefore Jesus must die. His hour has come and He cannot change it. He has the power to save Himself, but He won’t because that would jeopardize His entire mission.

 

So He is troubled, and asks His Father to glorify not His, Jesus’, name, but to glorify the Father’s name. “Father, glorify your name.” And God the Father responds, which I could imagine gives Jesus much hope and reassurance. Jesus needs this. He needs hope and reassurance to proceed. I mean, He is about to die, and He knows this with sheer certainty. He needs this, and only God can provide Him with this certainty and help Jesus’ troubled soul.

 

And what is the peace of mind Jesus needed; that there is purpose in His actions. The Father did not glorify Jesus, nor did He glorify Himself for Jesus’ sake. The Father glorified Himself for our sake. Jesus’ entire mission was for our sake, under the commands of the Father. Jesus needed peace, this is all for their sake, my mission is not meaningless, I can now fulfill it, I can now willingly give up my life. The hour comes, and Jesus is ready.

 

Now there is a most curious thing about this sacrifice. Just like how a seed though already dead, if buried into the earth, ceases to be a seed and thus dies as it sprouts truly alive and grows into a plant that bears fruit, so must Christ and we through Christ. For in order for Christ to be glorified, he needed to first die. And the same applies to us. For before Christ we are like seeds, already dead. Our sinful lives are dead and thus if we love this sinful life we will ultimately lose it. Yet if we hate our sinfulness and instead reach out to Christ and have faith in Him then we are not only buried with Him, putting to death our former selves through Christ’s burial, but we are also raised with Christ in newness of life which lasts for eternity and bears good fruit. Isn’t it curious? Curious indeed, for if we wish to live eternity we must, through Christ, put to rest the old Adam and, also through Christ, lift up the new Adam. For if we become attached to the old Adam we will not only die, but are already dead.

 

The Hour comes, it is here, for the Son of Man to be glorified, and through His death, we too glorified, sanctified, justified, made righteous, made holy, cleansed, forgiven, absolved of our sins, made Saints, made Children of God, made Heirs of His Kingdom. The hour comes.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, just like your son, who gave up his life, help us to let go of our sinful lives so that we too may be transformed and be brought to true eternal life, sanctified by Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with You, now and forever. In your most holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

 

For the season of Lent, these Wednesdays, we will be reading from Isaiah 52:13-53:12, but only three verses at a time. Today we read:

 

Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

In Scripture it says that through Christ our yoke is easy and our burden is light, but what does that mean? Throughout our lives, because of sin and the weight of the world and all its ungodly demands (yes, that was a pun), we live an incredibly burdened life. The gravitas of our own failures against the Law and the worldly demands crushes us into the ground and makes it difficult to live a life full of joy and peace. The burdens of our daily lives make it difficult to cherish the gifts of the Lord, his providence, and enjoy the many blessings He has given such as family and friend. We are weighed down by our own guilt and shame and by deceitful ploys that only add more guilt and shame on our troubled conscious. Yet through Christ, this burden that troubles us is lightened, but how is that so?

The servant, the suffering servant of the Lord, a child of God, was to come as one who was burdened, but isn’t God one who is void of sin? The suffering servant was to be afflicted, but isn’t God all powerful and incapable of accruing the damages of sin as He cannot sin? The suffering servant was to be struck down by God, but wouldn’t that mean God’s house is divided? It is true to say that this chosen servant, this Son of God, is pure and clean and sinless and incapable of sinning. This servant is mighty and would never go against God; is perfectly obedient to the Father. So why is he being struck down by God and afflicted?

Out of hatred towards this servant, we caused Him to suffer and we esteemed Him as struck down by God for His own sins and afflicted with the most vile of sins, Blasphemy against the Lord. We despised Him and His message and what He represented; we wanted Him gone. It is out of our anger that we esteemed Him as such. Now He was struck down and afflicted, but God did not struck Him down for any sin He committed nor is this servant afflicted with anything He himself has done.

He is the sacrificial lamb, the burdened servant; for he was not burdened with His own sins, but ours. This servant was struck down by God because this servant took on the weight of the world and lifted our own sins off our shoulders, and God cannot have any sin within Him. This servant was afflicted because He was marred with the all the sins of the world that He chose to bore. Not His own sins, for this servant was perfect and cannot sin, but our sins.

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” This was not His griefs and sorrows he carried but ours. He was burdened so that we may not be burdened; burdened with our own griefs and sorrows. And as he was struck down for carrying our sins, out of anger we sneered and laughed at His suffering body, esteeming the sins He carried as His own. Not once realizing that on that Passover day He was to be The Sacrificial Lamb. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” Like the Lamb which is killed for Passover so that the Spirit of Death would Passover the Egyptians, this servant would be the Lamb, burdened with all our sins, killed during Passover so that God’s Judgment of Death and Hell would Passover each and every one of use.

This judgement should be ours, we should be on that cross, we should be the ones suffering, we should be the ones baring our own burdens, we should be the ones going to Hell, but this servant carries all of that so that we do not. We are like lost sheep who have gone astray, always doing what we want to do, contradicting Scripture left and right, but He is the Sacrificial Lamb, the obedient sheep, the Good Shepherd. He has borne our burdens, but He does this so that we may be lost sheep no more, but found once again and brought together in his fold, for through Him our yoke is easy and our burden is light.

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we do not deserve your grace for we are lost sheep, but regardless you have blessed us with a servant who serves as the Passover Lamb to save us from our sins and lead us to eternal bliss. We thank you for your bless and are eternally grateful. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

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