Good Friday – Behold the Lamb

Good Friday 2013

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

THE LAMB IS BETRAYED. He is sold at market for 30 silver pieces, the price of a slave. He is betrayed by the kiss of a friend, one of His inner circle, the Twelve, those whom He chose not only to be disciples but apostles. One of His own “sent ones” turns Him in to the authorities.

He bears our betrayals, our betrayal of God and of one another, our betrayal of the God who made us and who redeemed us. Our betrayal of those around us for far less than thirty pieces of silver. The betrayals we have experienced ourselves, when friend or even family give us a Judas kiss instead of the kiss of peace. Jesus entrusted Himself to no man, for He knew what was in a man. He knew the Judas that lies within each one of us, and He bears that betrayal. His own friend, one with whom He had broken bread, now turns a heel to Him.

The world betrays Him too. Instead of greeting Him with open arms of faith, it comes with swords and clubs and lanterns as though He were some sort of criminal. A simple utterance of the Name “I AM” can knock them all down to the ground, and yet the Lamb goes forth humbly and meekly. This is His cup to drink, and nothing will deter Him.

Peter swings a sword in defense of Jesus, but His kingdom is not of this world, and it is not established by the sword. The sword of His kingdom comes out of His mouth, the Word, that sharp two-edged sword of Law and Gospel. By the Word alone does this Lamb conquer.

THE LAMB IS TRIED AND CONVICTED BY RELIGION. He is charged with blasphemy for telling the truth. He is the Christ, the Son of God, but Religion doesn’t want this kind of Christ and Son of God. In fact no one knows what to do with Him. They send Him back and forth from Annas to Caiaphas, from priest to high priest. Religion never knows what to do with Jesus except to slap Him around.

He bears our blasphemies, all our untruths about God, all the ways we invent to fabricate gods in our own image and likeness. He bears our idolatries, our religious murders and wars – Cain slaying Abel, all the ways we use religion to gain control and power over others. He bears all that, and He dies.

THE LAMB IS CONVICTED BY GOVERNMENT. The world of politics wants Jesus on their side. Are you with us or against us, Jesus? And which party would Jesus vote for? In the end, He’s a threat to peace and national security. A nuisance to Pilate who looks for any excuse to dump His case. Anything but a riot. Pilate sits in judgment of the truth and yet asks “What is truth?” even as He is staring the Truth in the face.

The Lamb bears our sins of state, of corrupt politicians and backhanded justice, and our willingness to trade anything and everything for temporal peace and security. He bears our idolatry of the state, our trust in princes who cannot save. He bears our cynicism that asks “What is truth?” while washing our hands of responsibility.

THE LAMB IS CONVICTED BY THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. There is no more fierce tyrant than a majority of public opinion. And no more ruthless judge. Might is right. Pilate would release Him, but the mob wants Barabbas instead. He’s more to their liking. He’s an insurrectionist and murderer. Why bother with Jesus when you can have Barabbas? He’ll get the job done.

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked His disciples. And you too. Anything short of the Christ, the Son of the living God, will not do. But the court of public opinion does not want this, and so cries “Crucify Him!” He needs to shut up and die.

He bears our sins of power, when we have comfortably sat in the majority and gloated at the “losers.” He became the Loser for us all. He’s the crucified King. Behold your King. The world cries out “We have no King but Caesar!” and we do the same. There is nothing better than to be in the majority, to be in power, to make others do it your way. The Lamb bears all this – our injustice, our oppression, our violence, our hatred for our fellow man.

THE LAMB BEARS OUR SHAME. Adam was naked and ashamed in his sin, and God clothed him. Jesus is stripped on the cross, the soldiers gambling for His clothing like some trophies of a hunting kill. He bears our shame, stripped of all the ways we have of covering up our deceits, stripped of the Sunday best that we use to dress up the sinner and make him more civilized for Sunday morning, stripped of our pretense and hypocrisy.

He is stripped of His robe so that we might be clothed with a robe of His righteousness. We can’t cover our sins, but He can. And He does, this Lamb who dies bearing our shame.

THE LAMB BEARS OUR BROKENNESS AND PAIN. He unites mother and son in a new family. “Woman, behold, your son!” “Behold, your mother!” He brings the lost and estranged and orphaned together. He leaves His Father and His mother to cling to His bride, the Church, and in His Church He brings the sin-isolated into a holy communion. The outsider is in, the sinner is justified. Behold, your mother, the Church, as she beholds her son and daughter in you. “Who is my mother and brother and sister?” Jesus asked. Those who hear His words and cling to them in faith. His Church. You baptized into Christ and His family.

He bears our pain. His thirst cannot be quenched by this world’s sour wine. He drinks this cup for you. His thirst is for your refreshment. He knows your pain intimately and fully. There is no suffering that He himself did not experience. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” He thirsts for your righteousness. He suffers for your comfort and blessing. He dies for your life.

THE LAMB BEARS OUR DEATH. Death is the big enemy. The wages of Sin. The payout of the Law. The sting of death is Sin and the power of Sin is the Law. The Lamb has dealt with it. The Lamb has conquered. “It is finished.” Accomplished. Done to death. There is nothing you do can add to what He has done. “It is finished.”

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

A good Friday indeed. Very good.