Sermon for Good Friday based on Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Dear people for whom Jesus died: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
God responds to sin with anger, wrath, and punishment. Sin makes God angry enough to destroy the whole earth with a flood, to rain sulphur and fire out of heaven destroying cities, and to bring plague, famine, war, bloodshed, and exile, even on His own people who have turned away from Him. God responds to sin in His wrath, saying, “Your dead bodies shall fall in the wilderness… not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell,” and “I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath.” God responds to sin with punishment; punishment that He pours out upon the children in the street, the young and the old, as their houses and fields are taken by others, along with their wives; punishment that is so horrible that people will wish for death by mountains falling on them and hills covering them.
This is no exaggeration or hyperbole. This is what God tells us in His own Word. The wrath of God is no trivial or small thing. God hates sin and threatens to punish the sinner to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him.
We can pretend He’s not threatening us, but He is. We can pretend our sin is not such a big deal, but it is. We can pretend God is not angry over our sin, but He is. Our sin deserves the anger of God to be unleashed on us. Our sin deserves the wrath of God to be poured upon us. Our sin deserves the punishment of God both here in time, and eternally in hell.
It does us no good to make excuses. It does us no good to point at others who we think are worse than we are. It does us no good to point out what we think we have done well. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned – every one – to his own way.” The only thing we can do is confess our sin and plead to God for forgiveness. “Have mercy on me O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your mercy blot out my transgressions.”
God responds to sin with anger, wrath, and punishment. Sin made God angry enough to forsake His only Son and give Him up to death. Good Friday reveals the wrath of God, as God the Father cast His righteous wrath and His just punishment upon Jesus on our behalf. Jesus suffered to the point that He was so marred that He was beyond human semblance. He was despised and rejected by men and by God the Father. He was stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. It was the will of the Lord to crush Him and put Him to grief. The Lord laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all.
This was not God showing love to people that are pretty good and needing just a little bit of help. This was God showing love to people who are by nature children of wrath and His enemies. This was God giving His Son unto death for rebels who hated Him and killed Him, choosing the murderer and insurrectionist Barabbas over Him. This was God sacrificing His own perfect Son for those who have chosen darkness over light, death over life, and Satan over Jesus.
Good Friday is God punishing Jesus for our sins instead of punishing us. Good Friday is God pouring His anger, wrath, and punishment on Jesus, who did not deserve it, instead of on us, who do deserve it.
As much as you might love someone, you would never sacrifice your son to die for them. Neither would I. This is even more true if it is someone who has shown you nothing but hatred and contempt, and done everything possible to hurt you and harm your family and possessions, and no matter what they’ve done against you they say they haven’t done anything wrong.
Yet, it was exactly for such people full of hatred and contempt that God sent His only Son to die; such people blind to their own sin and full of self-righteousness.
God has no desire to punish the wicked. Rather, He wants the wicked to turn from his evil ways and live. That is why God punished His own Son, so that we would be spared eternal punishment.
Good Friday was for us. Christ has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace. With His stripes we are healed. It was all for us and our salvation. Christ suffered everything for us and in our place, so that we would receive eternal life.
Christ still does everything for us. He makes intercession for us transgressors, praying for us. He sprinkles many nations with the Baptismal waters of forgiveness, that blessed flood and lavish washing away of sin. He fills our chalice with His blood which flowed forth for our sins. Every Sunday He gives us the medicine of eternal life.
This is no exaggeration or hyperbole. The love of God is no trivial or small thing. The love of God is so great that it covers His anger. Not because sin is a trivial or small thing, but because He has already punished all sin in Jesus. Jesus’ payment of His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death have turned away God’s anger, wrath, and punishment from us. Not so that we would return to our rebellious ways of darkness and death, taking His Word and gifts for granted, but rather so that we would live like His children, read and hear His Word, and continuously receive His gifts.
Good Friday is about the wrath of God, and how Jesus’ death has turned it away from us. As we anticipate the great joys of Easter and the resurrection of our Lord, we can anticipate the great joys of our own resurrection, when we will rise from the dead and live eternally. We will live eternally because God’s anger has been turned away from us, so we have no punishment to fear. On Good Friday, Jesus took all the anger, wrath, and punishment that we deserve, so we receive all that is His and share in His inheritance of eternal life. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.