Good Friday 2016

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 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.” Isaiah 53

It would be easy and tempting for us to gawk at those wounds like so many looky-loos rubbernecking past an accident on the side of the road. You don’t want to look and yet you do. Morbid curiosity. Gratefully, the evangelists all spared us the graphic details of Jesus’ crucifixion. What matter is that He was crucified. The details of which need not be brought to light, as they were in the film “The Passion of the Christ.” It’s not the “what” of those wounds that matter. We are not here for a medical diagnosis. It’s the “why” of these wound that matter. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inquity.

Our sin put Jesus on the cross. Yes, the wood and the nails belonged to Rome. The charges came from the religious court and the civil court. But the underlying reason behind it, the hidden reason behind it, was that the Lord has laid on Him the inquity of us all. “He became our Sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.” The transaction that began at Jesus’ baptism, in which He was baptized as a Sinner among sinners, ends here on the cross, where He dies the sinner’s death for us all. Our sin nailed Jesus to the cross. Your sin. My sin. The sin of the entire world, of all mankind beginning with Adam.

As Jesus walked the road to Calvary through the streets of Jerusalem, the women on the side of the road wept for Him. Jesus said to them, “Don’t weep for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.” Tonight is not a night to weep for Jesus, or to feel sorry for Him. He did what He came to do, what He was sent to do, to put Sin to death in our flesh. That was His mission. It was a rescue mission. To rescue Adam and all his children from their captivity to Sin and Death, and to do so, He had to become our Sin and die our Death. There was no other way.

Good Friday is not Jesus’ funeral, where we sing softly and tenderly and shed a politely pious tear into a lace handkerchief while thinking, “Poor Jesus. He had to die so young, so brutally, so wrongly. Poor, poor Jesus.” Weep not for Him, but weep for yourselves. This is what your Sin looks like when it’s not hidden behind your religious piety and your Sunday best.

Ye who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great;
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load; ’
Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

This is how great a sinner you are, that God the Son must take on human flesh, live His own Law perfectly for you, and die this cursed death in order to save you.

“By His wounds we are healed.”

Consider those wounds.

His head was crowned with thorns, wounded for the healing of your mind. We have lost our minds, individually and collectively. Sin has driven us to madness. Our thinking is disordered, and from our disordered thinking comes all manner of disorder in our lives, our loves, our world, our work, our worship. We need a “metanoia,” a repentance, a re-thinking. We need a new mind, a mind unclouded by Sin. We need the mind of Him whose head was pierced with thorn. Thorns marked the cursed soil, now they mark the Savior’s brow. Look on those wounds, those piercings in His brow. They are the healing of your mind – your depressions, anxieties, false thinking, everything that has gone wrong in our heads is made right in this Head crowned with thorn.

Consider the stripes on His back inflicted by the lash and the whip, and with them, the blows to His face, swollen and bruised. When your enemy strikes you on the cheek, present to Him the other as well. We recoil at the thought and plot our revenge. He presented the other cheek and prayed for those who beat Him. Those wounds on His back and face are your healing. They are the healing of all the blows that you have inflicted on others by your words and your actions and inactions. They are the healing of all the blows that others have inflicted on you, as you have been slapped and punched by those who would exert their power over you. And they are the healing of all the blows you have infllicted upon yourself, in your wrongheaded way of attempting to atone for your own sins, as if to say, “If I beat on myself enough, maybe God will feel sorry for me.”

Behold the unblemished Lamb, bruised and blemished and beaten by humanity’s inhumanity. It is Cain murdering Abel. He is the beaten prisoner of war, the abused wife, the beaten child, the one who is picked on on the playground and beaten up because he’s not like the others. He is the victim of torture, persecution, oppression, terror, violence, hatred, prejudice. He is the kid beaten up by the cop. He is the policeman shot in the line of duty. He is 9/11 and Paris and San Bernardino and Brussels and every act of genocide and homicide and war. He endures this because human life matters. Your life matters. By those wounds, you are healed.

Consider His hands, pierced by nails and immobilized on the cross. Those wounds are the healing of your work. Consider your hands. How marvelous they are! Beautifully designed for intricacy and strength. Hands to build and plant and sew and push pencils and operate keyboards and caress and comfort and hold. With these hands we sin against God and others, working evil rather than good, offering up black masses instead high masses in our priesthood.

Jesus’ hands knew work – the splinter of wood, the nail, the carpenter’s tools, the callouses. With those hands He reached out to touch the untouchable – the leprous, the sinful woman, the blind man. He touched our humanity with His human hands and healed us. And now those hands, nailed to the cross, do their final and greatest work. He keeps the Law to death. Every jot, every little mark of the Law down to its finest distinction. He does the work of His Father. For you. For me. For the world.

By His wounded hands, your hands are healed to work, to reach out, to comfort, to hold, to heal, to help the brother, the sister, the stranger, the man in the ditch, your neighbor in need.

Consider His feet. They walked the roads of Galilee and Judea. They took Him through Gentile country. They left footprints in the dust of our history. Who really knows how many miles were on those feet? “How beautiful are the feet that bring good news!” Those feet brought the good news of the kingdom of God to places and ears that had never heard before. And now they are immobilized, pinned to a cross by the nails of injustice. He walked the way of righteousness, and now those feet are bound as the feet of a sinner, as one who is ungodly, as one who is cursed by God and afflicted. Who can bear to look at them?

His wounded feet are the healing of your walk. We all like sheep have gone astray. Our feet are prone to wandering off the path of righteousness onto the ruts and rabbit trails of this world. We like to walk our own roads. And like our father Adam, we end up lost in the bushes and afraid. Jesus came and sought us. He walked our road. Those beautiful feet, nailed to the cross, are the healing of your walk with the Lord. They make your feet beautiful too. As Jesus bent down to wash the feet of His disciples, your feet have been anointed to bring good news to your fellow man. Where you have gone on those feet, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching them. By His wounded feet, you are healed.

Consider the wound in His side, a gaping sword’s thrust of water and blood. This isn’t so much a medical diagnosis as it is a theological one. His heart was pierced for you. For your transgressions. This is the heart of God pouring out His life for the life of the world. The water of this wound flows straight into the font of Baptism. The blood straight to the chalice of the Supper. From that pierced and wounded heart comes the healing of your heart. A new heart. A heart that beats with the will of God. A heart that rejoices at the sound of its Maker and Redeemer.

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.” This is the day of which Zechariah spoke. And this is the fountain that God opened for the house of David to cleanse from sin and uncleanness. “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.” His wounded heart is for the healing of your Sin-broken heart. Cleansed hearts are free; free to trust God and love your neighbor.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
By His wounds, you are healed for eternity.

In the name of Jesus,