Good Friday, 2017

 

The Epistle. Hebrews 10:1-25

The Gospel.  St. John 19:1-37

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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This day is quite unique and focused in what we are to observe.

 

This is the day of the Crucifixion.
This is the day of the death of the Son of God.
This is the day of Atonement.

 

Our sins paid for by Christ.
Our sins laid upon Him, nailed to the cross and forever forgiven and forgotten.

 

The idea of atonement is found in the Bible from beginning to end.

 

To atone for something is to pay the price for it…to bring about reconciliation…to make amends.

 

Jesus’ death on the cross was just that.

His death was to make atonement for our sins.

 

Jesus was substituted for humanity. He took the place for all of humanity and was punished for the sins of humanity in order to pay for the sins we have committed and to reconcile us to God.

 

The Prophet Isaiah features prominently in these last days of Jesus life. His prophecies speak directly to all that Christ did as our substitute.

 

Isaiah 53:4–6

 

            [4] Surely he has borne our griefs

                        and carried our sorrows…

            [5] …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.

            [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. (ESV)

 

Do you see the back and forth here?

 

He bore our griefs.

He carried our sorrows.

He was pierced for our transgressions.

His chastisement bought us peace.

His wounds bring healing to us.

His body bore our iniquities.

 

All of this He did for us.

 

Even the New Testament writers and followers of Jesus in the case of Peter saw precisely the same thing.

 

1 Peter 3:18

 

[18] For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (ESV)

 

He was righteous. We were unrighteous.

He suffered. We did not.

He underwent separation. We gained reconciliation.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

 

[21] For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

 

God the Father saw to it and Jesus voluntarily saw to it that though Jesus was sinless, our sin was transferred to Jesus. The suffering that we deserve and even now at times undergo, was all laid on Jesus.

Jesus’ death atoned for us. Jesus made amends between us and God. Jesus was condemned instead of us.

 

This is sometimes called the Great Exchange.

Him for us.
Our sins for His righteousness.

 

All that was justly due to be given to us by way of punishment was halted and given to Jesus instead. He took all of it upon Himself.

 

This is why the atonement and the crucifixion are so important. We could never bear the sins of the world. It takes an infinite creature to do that.

Because Jesus is God, He is infinite and is able to bear the sins of the world.

And because He is fully human, He is able to stand in as our substitute.

 

So an innocent man, Jesus, takes on our sin and an infinite good and loving and glorious God who has been offended must see justice done.

 

God cannot just wave off sin. He cannot just forgive it. People ask, why did Jesus have to die? Why such a horrible death?  Why cant God just forgive people?

 

To just forgive without making things right is to deny justice. God declared that there must be consequences for sins. He did not say He would just turn a blind eye or forgive them without satisfying justice.


Jesus did precisely that. God’s wrath and justice were poured out on Jesus on the cross. This is why we hear, as we did last night on Maundy Thursday’s evening service when Psalm 22 was read to us… “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me?

 

 

These words Jesus truly felt as He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world. Yours and mine. 

 

He truly felt the separation that man experiences with God because of sin. We are very good an masking it, and trying to cover it up and acting like nothing is wrong and denying its depth and extent.

 

Yet we also live with a knowledge that God is there. Even atheists know there is a God. They just suppress that truth and lie to themselves and do all they can to convince themselves that He is not there and nothing is wrong.

 

It is all naturalism to them. There is no spiritual, eternal, existential side to anything in this world.

 

But the truth is, there is a God.
He hates sin. And He has taken it upon Himself to punish it and do away with it once and for all.

And He has done this in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

We were lost and unable to reconcile ourselves to God. We didn’t even want to. The breach was too great.

 

But Jesus breached the gap. He reconciled us to God. He bore the justice of God for us.

 

Christ’s atonement, in fact, has been understood and defined in many ways throughout Church history.

 

Many fall short of understanding just what Jesus did.

 

Some see what Jesus did simply as a way to show us how much God loves us. He does love us, but there is more to it than that.

 

If God is just showing His love for us and we are just in need of seeing how much He loves us, then we supposedly will be moved to turn to Him.

 

This does not take into account that we are not of the wrong opinion, but we are dead spiritually. We need to be brought to life in order to see God’s love.

 

If we are blind, we cannot see it. So it is deeper than just love.

 

Others see the atonement as God defeating Satan and ransoming us from Him. This gives satan way too much power…that he does not have anyway.

 

God is fully capable of saving us apart from having to deal with satan by satisfying him. He is not on the same level as God. He is a creature.

 

So that theory doesn’t work.

 

Others see the atonement as just an example that we are to follow. This too does not take into account the deadness of man before God quickens him.

 

We don’t need an example. We need a savior. To call Jesus a Savior as the Bible does, means more than someone to follow.

 

A savior is someone who is doing something to save…presumably because we cannot save ourselves.

 

No, the only or the primary way to see Christ’s atonement is to see it as a substitutionary vicarious one.

 

All of the Scripture passages we have heard point to this truth.

 

Jesus was a sacrifice and a substitute for us. He paid the penalty that we should have. He reconciled us to God while we were still enemies with Him.

He brought forgiveness while we weren’t even looking for it. He brought us to life when there was no life in us.

 

And what tops it all off is that not only was he our substitute, but also as part of this exchange is the second half.

 

Not only was He made to be sin for us, but we were given a righteous status in exchange!

 

Jesus’s righteousness was imputed or transferred or credited to us. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

[21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

 

Jesus was righteous in life and even in death. He never sinned. He lived the law of obedience in all points and therefore was able to bring that righteousness to us who trust in Him by faith.

Paul says, Romans 3:22–26

 

[22] “…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (ESV)

 

Quite a mouthful. A passage we could spend a lot of time on.

 

But Good Friday all comes down to good news for us. Now that we are reconciled to God and Christ’s righteousness has been credited to us, we can read passages like this one in Romans 8:1 where it says,

 

Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

 

Good Friday is good because of all that Christ did for us on the cross….all of the benefits He has won for us and the final status and good standing with God He has secured and given to us…all because of the atonement of Christ one Friday afternoon.

 

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.