Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday’

Isaiah 53, “Jesus: Rejected, Substitute, Sufficient”

“Good Friday.” The name is ironic. Considering that this is the day set aside in the year for Christians to remember Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, it does not initially seem to be good at all. What is good in Jesus being betrayed to the Jews and delivered to the Romans? What is good in His being beaten beyond recognition? What is good about the spikes driven through His wrists and feet, about His hanging in prolonged agony, in the mockery He endured from the crowd, or in His anguished death? What is good about any of that?

Perhaps there are several answers to the question, one of which being that it is good for what it accomplished. Without a crucifixion, there is no resurrection. Without the combination of the two with the Lord Jesus, there is no salvation. That alone makes it good. But there is something else, something more fundamental. It is good because it is of God. The crucifixion of Jesus was God’s idea – it was God’s plan for His Son. This was His will at work, for the purpose of reconciling the universe back to Himself and to reconcile men & women unto God. God willed that Jesus should die for the sins of mankind, of sinners like you and me. That alone makes it good.

It is this plan of God that is on display in Isaiah 53. It is without doubt a Messianic passage, used by Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch to bring him to faith in Christ (Acts 8:32-35) and referenced by Peter as an example of how Jesus suffered for us, thus we should expect similar suffering (1 Pt 2:21-25). Even Jesus saw this prophecy as speaking of His own suffering, specifically quoting it to the disciples the night He was arrested (Lk 22:37). This is no spiritualized picture of Israel; this is the prophesied work and suffering of Jesus Christ. We read it rightly when we see its fulfillment in Jesus.

The theology of the passage is rich, but tonight is not about an in-depth study pouring over every word. Rather, it is a time for reflection & remembrance – for us to take a step back and be in awe at our Jesus. We want God to speak to us through His Scripture, directing our attention and our devotion to Him for what was done to and through Christ.

In the prophecy, we see three main roles of Jesus, all entwined with each other. Each of these roles can be summarized with a single word. Jesus is: (1) the Man of Sorrows…rejected; (2) the sacrificial Lamb…substitute; (3) the suffering Servant…sufficient. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the plan of God. If it were not for God willing His Son to suffer on our behalf, none of us would be saved. How we praise God for His good will on this Good Friday regarding His good Son: Jesus!

Isaiah 53

  • The Man of Sorrows (1-3): Rejected.

1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah writes of the report that was disbelieved, or even unheard. What report? The few verses prior in Chapter 52 that speaks of the astonishment of the nation at God’s chosen Servant. Although God willed that this Servant be highly extolled and exalted, the Servant would first suffer. Isaiah wrote that “His visage was marred more than any man,” (52:14) and that “kings shall shut their mouths at Him,” (52:15) unable to comprehend what they witnessed. How could the chosen Servant of God, the Anointed One, the King of kings and Lord of lords…how could that One suffer such horrible punishment? Should not the Chosen One live a life of luxury and honor? That is expectation of royalty. When we think of kings, queens, and princes, etc., we think of their subjects bowing before them, honoring them; not beating them to a pulp and despising them. 

Yet that was the expectation for this Servant. The One chosen by God would come from humble beginnings, “as a root out of dry ground,” and He would have a humble life in general. Nothing about Him would initially stand out to the crowds as kingly. When Saul was initially presented by Samuel to Israel, the crowds all nodded their heads in agreement, affirming that Saul looked like a king. He was tall and handsome and easy to look at (not like the ruddy-faced kid that would come later in David). This was not the case with Jesus, God’s true Servant. There was nothing about His appearance that screamed “Messiah! King!” Although angels announced His birth from a virgin mother, He was raised by a humble carpenter and lived a boyhood life of relative obscurity and near-poverty. In the eyes of the world, this was not the résumé of a king. In the eyes of God, Jesus had all the qualifications required, yet His own nation was blind.

Instead of receiving Jesus, they rejected Him. They did not desire Him; they despised Him. They did not esteem Him; they spurned Him. John writes: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him,” (Jn 1:11). His own nation turned their backs on Him. No wonder that Jesus was prophesied to be “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” The pain experienced by Christ was at least as much spiritual as it was physical. It was all part of His suffering.

Jesus was truly rejected by those He came to save. Those who owed Him their allegiance derided Him. Not only did they clamor for His crucifixion, preferring to have the murderous terrorist Barabbas released to them rather than Jesus, but they even mocked Him while looking upon Him hanging on the cross. They could not have rejected Jesus any more than they did. It was a total repudiation of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

But again, these were the ones Jesus came to save. Hanging from the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” (Lk 23:34). Oh, they understood that they were cruel in their mockery; they just didn’t understand Who they mocked. If they did, they wouldn’t have dared uttered a word! This was God in the flesh, One who could call down a legion of angels to destroy them. This was the God that would one day judge each and every one of them – the God from whose righteous wrath they required salvation. And that was what Jesus provided that day. He gave them the means to find refuge from the wrath of God. They didn’t know it, and they rejected Him.

We did, too. How long did each of us live our lives rejecting the gift of Jesus Christ? How many years passed with us mocking the Son of God, despising His sacrifice for us? How long did we usurp the rightful place of God in our lives, declaring ourselves to be our own lords and masters? And yet…Jesus died for people like us. He died for those who rejected Him, that we might reject Him no longer!

  • The Sacrificial Lamb (4-9): Substitute.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by 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.

Are there any verses in the Bible that speak more clearly of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice for us? Centuries before Jesus walked the earth in His incarnation, the prophet Isaiah wrote of Christ’s work as a substitute. Jesus put Himself in our place, taking on our sins, bearing the wrath of God in our place as our punishment. The apostle Paul put it this way: 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus knew no sin, having committed none of His own, nor being born with a sinful nature like ours. Yet He became sin when He became our sin offering for us. Hanging upon that bloody cross, Jesus bore each of our griefs and sorrows. Every wound on His body was inflicted for our many transgressions against God. Every bruise and each blackened eye were for the iniquities of men and women. Jesus deserved none of it. We did; He didn’t. He was truly and totally innocent. Yes, He was tempted just like every human being is tempted, but He did not fall to that temptation. Jesus did not live in a holy bubble, sealed off from even the possibility of sin. On the contrary, Jesus was surrounded by sinful people and subjected to the personal spiritual onslaught of Satanic attack. Yet Jesus prevailed! Jesus was sinless and deserved no suffering whatsoever. But suffer, He did. He suffered in ways that our minds can hardly imagine.

Yet it was not in vain! Jesus’ suffering produced tremendous results. What was the fruit of His punishment? “Our peace.” The shalom (wholeness, peace) we need with God, Jesus provides. The spiritual healing we require from the death earned by our sin, Jesus bought and paid for “by His stripes.” Everything we need to be restored into full relationship with God is made possible through Jesus Christ.

What was the cost? Jesus Himself. For us to be healed – for us to have shalom peace with God, it required that our “iniquity” be laid on Christ. We needed a perfect substitute, a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was it.

What did that sacrifice look like? …

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

How accurately Isaiah prophesied the passion and suffering of Jesus! Though “oppressed and…afflicted” in a series of unjust trials, Jesus did not attempt to defend Himself and gain judicial victory. Certainly, He could have if He desired. No one would have been able to mount a self-defense in court like Jesus! But He chose otherwise. Jesus understood that the cross was necessary for the plan of God, so He made no attempt to avoid it. “He opened not His mouth.” The Jewish high priest was astounded, incredulously asking Jesus, “Do You answer nothing?” (Mt 26:62). Likewise, Pilate “marveled greatly,” when Jesus did not answer the charges against Him (Mt 27:14). Even Herod was frustrated at Jesus’ silence, cruelly mocking Jesus when Herod didn’t get the answers he wanted (Lk 23:9-11). Jesus had no reason to answer any of them. He was fully prepared for the suffering and death He would face. That battle was resolved the previous night in the Garden of Gethsemane as great drops of blood came down Jesus’ face in anguished sweat. Though He prayed that God might remove this cup of wrath from Him, Jesus faithfully prayed that God’s will be done. In the mockery and cruelty of the various national leaders, God’s will was being done. It was God’s will that Jesus go to the cross; this was how it had to be.

At that point, Jesus was taken from the custody of the Roman soldiers (a kind of “prison” and “judgment” in itself) and terribly affixed to the cross with three massive spikes. Hanging there for hours, “He was cut off from the land of the living,” as He hung until He died. It was the death of a criminal, and indeed, He hung between two other criminals – perhaps the very terrorist partners of Barabbas. Jesus died the death of a transgressor, but it was not His own transgressions for which He died, but “for the transgressions of My people,” the “My” speaking of the people of God. Jesus died on that cross as the Savior of Israel. He died on that cross for your sins and for mine. Every tortured breath took while hanging there was a moment of suffering that you and I deserved. That should have been us; it was Him.

Finally, He died and the rest of the prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus died literally beside two “wicked” men, and the initial expectation of His burial would have been to throw His body into a mass grave along with other criminals. Instead, Jesus was “with the rich at His death” as Joseph of Arimathea gave Jesus a brand-new tomb, with both Joseph and Nicodemus the Pharisee personally attending to Jesus’ dead body. The two Sanhedrin members packed Jesus’ body with almost one hundred pounds worth of spices (Jn 19:39) – a magnificent gift, provided by two men who had not the courage to honor Jesus in life, but felt compelled to do so at His death. Jesus died the death of a criminal, but He received a burial befitting a king!

Why did it all have to be this way? It was the will of God…

  • The Suffering Servant (10-12): Sufficient.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Why did Jesus die on the cross? Yes, it was for our sins. But ultimately, it was the will of God. “It pleased the LORD to bruise Him.” The word translated “pleased” could also be translated “delighted.” We don’t want to get the wrong idea. God the Father is not a sadist, being overjoyed at seeing His only begotten Son in suffering and anguish. Rather, God is well-pleased when His will is done. Sometimes hard things, difficult things, please us when they bring about the right result. No mother enjoys the pains of labor but they are delighted to hold their newborn son or daughter. If the pain of childbirth is what is required for the baby to come, so be it. 

Likewise, with the plan of God. God’s plan did not begin and end with Jesus’ suffering and death. If that were all that was desired, that would be cruel indeed. But the bruising and grief of Jesus had a specific purpose: it was “an offering for sin.” Ever since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, sin has been in this world and there was only one answer to it: a sufficient sacrifice. Without a sufficient shedding of blood – without a death of greater value than the sin that made it necessary, sin would remain in this world and this universe would remain perverted from God’s original intent for it. For these things to be made right, a sufficient sin offering needed to be made. Jesus made it and God was pleased. Moreover, God was even the One who ordained it, ultimately being the One who put Jesus “to grief.” God did what it took for sin to be squashed and for death to be conquered, and the result brought Him pleasure and delight.

Why? Because it was sufficient! What Jesus did was enough and the proof was in the resurrection, here too prophesied by Isaiah. Although the Suffering Servant truly died, He would still “see His seed” (i.e. the offspring of the church) and “He shall prolong His days.” How can a dead man’s days be prolonged? They can’t. Only a living or a resurrected Man’s days are prolonged. Such is Jesus!

11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

The work of Jesus was truly enough! The labor He poured out on the cross was satisfactory. What Jesus accomplished was able to “justify many,” making us right in the sight of God. Whereas our sins separated us from God, Jesus reconciles us back to God, zeroing out the infinite debts we owed through our “iniquities.” Everything we require for eternal life yet could never achieve on our own, Jesus achieved in full and freely offers.

It is no wonder that God exalts Jesus in the way He does! Jesus came to earth in utmost humility but has been raised to great glory. He lived a life of poverty but has inherited a future of victory. The language used by Isaiah is normally used of military warriors who gain “spoil” from the cities they conquered. Jesus is the Victorious Warrior! The enemy He conquered was no mere human nation; Jesus conquered sin and death itself. Death has no more sting, nor does Hades have any victory because Jesus has all victory! He won it at the cross and proved it in the resurrection. It came from His obedience to suffer, and His suffering was sufficient. Today, we enjoy the spoils of His victory. Our sin is gone because Jesus bore it – our transgressions are removed because Jesus numbered us with Himself.

Praise be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord!

On Good Friday, we remember the cross. But we also remember that the cross is not the end; it leads to a specific event: the resurrection. Yes, Jesus suffered immensely – yes, Jesus died – yes, Jesus was buried. But that is not all…praise God, it is not all! Jesus went from that death and burial to resurrected life, and in His life, we find the hope and promise of new life. We are forgiven! Our transgressions are forever removed, all because of the work of Jesus.

Is this your hope? Is this your trust? This is the promise that is available to all the world, yet it will only be experienced by those who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord. Tonight, receive Him! Although you rejected Jesus in the past, He was your substitute for sin when He died on the cross, and His death is sufficient for you as seen in His resurrection. You know the truth; now act on it in faith.

Good Friday 2017, “The Cross”

There are many things we have to imagine when it comes to various stories in the Bible.  Not “imagine,” as in “make-up / make-believe,” but as in, “What was it like to be in their shoes?”.  Many Biblical events have only the bare facts – not the emotion.  That’s not the case regarding Jesus and the cross.  Not only does the Bible tell us the facts of what took place, but it also tells us of the suffering that Jesus endured there.  We don’t have to imagine how He felt…the Bible tells us.

Of course, we might ask why we need to know.  Isn’t it enough to know that Jesus died upon the cross for us & rose again from the grave?  After all, that is the core of the gospel.  Why go into the details of His suffering?  Because: how else will we understand the cost?  We only value those things we understand.  A toddler has no concept of your grandmother’s fine china passed down through the generations to you, and will treat those dishes accordingly.  He/she doesn’t value them.  That’s not their fault – they simply don’t have the ability to understand.  But we can, and we try to pass that knowledge along to them (as best we can).  Likewise, without any concept of the suffering of Christ upon the cross, we will not value the cross.  We’ll treat it casually & carelessly as a baby with a china dish.  We’ll take our sin for granted because we’ll take our salvation for granted.  That’s when the cross becomes just another symbol or item of jewelry.  That’s when prayer becomes a meal-time ritual.  That’s when our Christianity becomes common.

This is why we remember the sufferings of Jesus upon the cross.  We need to understand the cost of our salvation.  We need to understand that our relationship with God is anything but common.  It is infinitely precious – it is absolutely priceless.

This is where Psalm 22 comes in.  These words, written 1000 years before Jesus came to earth, are the true experiences of the Son of God.  These are the things He thought and felt as He took upon Himself the wrath of God.  Yes, these are the words of David – and yes, David had real experiences to which these words related.  But ultimately these words were not about him, but rather his Divine descendant.  Of all of the Messianic psalms, there are few as directly Messianic as this (despite the fact that the word “Messiah” is never found!).  In Psalm 22, we read the very thoughts of our Lord Jesus in the hour of His greatest pain.

We don’t have time to look at the entire psalm, and a full exegesis is not our intention.  On this Good Friday, we need to be reminded of how bad it was for Jesus, knowing the wonderfully good outcome that would result.  So we’ll look at three main sections of the psalm, each one being a different aspect of His suffering.  He suffered for us spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Jesus suffered spiritually:
1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? 2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.

  1. The first thing we need to notice is a difference in address.  There’s a formality here not normally seen in the ministry of Jesus.  Usually He spoke to/of His Father, consistently referring to Him in that way.  Here Jesus cries out to His God.  Already in the opening words, there is a separation – a seeming change in relationship.
  2. How bad was this separation?  God was far from His very person.  He wasn’t just a bit remote from Jesus, but it’s as if God the Father was somehow cut off from the very soul of God the Son.  NKJV “Why are You so far from helping Me?” – Literal Hebrew could be “Why [are You]…so far from my Yeshua / So far from my Salvation.”  Jesus felt utterly and personally abandoned.  He could roar out in pain, groaning in anguish, and His God seemed nowhere to be found.
  3. Have you ever felt alone?  Abandoned by God?  I guarantee you haven’t felt it to the extent of Jesus.  Remember that Jesus is eternally the Son of God – He has always existed with God the Father.  Father, Son, and Spirit have always been in eternal communion with one another, having perfect fellowship with one another.  Sometimes people think that the reason God created us was so that He could have someone to love.  No – that is fundamentally untrue.  God has always had someone to love: the other members of the Trinity.  God the Father has always loved God the Son & God the Spirit, and vice-versa, all the way around.  If God created us because of love, it was because His love for the Son was so great that it had to have somewhere to spill out.  We are perhaps the overflow of the Father’s love for the Son, but we are definitely not the sole object of the Father’s love!  — Knowing all of this, consider the spiritual pain of Jesus when it felt as if He was abandoned by His Father.  He had never in all of eternity had one inch of separation between He & the Father, and now He felt “forsaken” by the Father, not even able to call Him “Father,” and even then, still forsaken by God.  It’s no wonder Jesus cried out this verse in anguished Aramaic, despite the excruciating pain it would have taken Him to utter this many words.  “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (Mk 15:34)  This was no coded Bible study spoken by Jesus, where He was subtly trying to point people back to Psalm 22.  This certainly was no cry to Elijah, as some who stood at the foot of the cross assumed. (Mk 15:35)  This was the spiritual anguish of Jesus crying out to His God, wondering how it was possible for His eternal fellowship with the Father to seemingly be non-existent.
  4. Did it have to be this way?  Yes.  There was no other way for the wrath of God to be fulfilled.  The sins we committed (and still commit today) deserve nothing less than the fullness of God’s righteous anger, and if we were to experience it for ourselves, we would be in hell forever separated from the love of God.  Thus Jesus had to experience it in our place, and He did.  For all of the suffering that He endured upon the cross, this was surely the worst.  No greater punishment could possibly be inflicted upon Him.

3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. 5 They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

  1. Throughout the psalm, there’s a bit of back & forth, which we could see more clearly if we had time to look at it in-depth.  There is the suffering felt by Jesus, and the trust expressed by Him.  It’s not that Jesus couldn’t make up His mind (or that these were only the words of David at this point) – it’s that all kinds of thoughts rushed through Jesus’ mind in His anguish, just as we experience in ours.  Just as surely as He felt His present suffering, He also remembered His history.  He knew that God had never abandoned His people – that those who belong to God can trust in God, knowing that He will always be faithful.
    1. Great example for what we do when we feel abandoned.  We remember the fact that we aren’t.  It feels like it, but we know that God has never abandoned us in the past, and He won’t do so in the present.  God has been nothing but faithful when it comes to His acts of deliverance.  That’s just who He is.  So we “trust.

Jesus suffered emotionally:
6 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” 9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. 11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. 13 They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion.

  1. If it wasn’t bad enough that Jesus felt abandoned by God, He was also abandoned by the people.  They mocked Him & “despised” Him.  Keep in mind that Jesus is the eternal Word of God, through whom God created the world.  None of us would exist without Him.  Every single human being is knit together in the womb by Almighty God.  Thus Jesus created each and every person who hated Him.  These were the men and women Jesus had come for.  He knew how lost they were in their sin, and He came to save them.  He loved them and wanted them to be reconciled back to God.  He was accomplishing that very thing for them at the present moment.  And yet they hated Him.  They taunted Him.  They ganged up around Him, like a pack of lions waiting to pounce upon their Holy prey.
  2. Keep in mind that this was just the latest betrayal.  First there had been Judas, turning Him over to the Jews with a traitorous kiss.  Judas Iscariot had lived and followed Jesus for years, and it meant nothing to him.  He had given himself over to Satan, and treated his former Master with less worth than a slave.  Then there was the rest of the disciples, all of whom ran and scattered at the moment of Jesus’ arrest.  His best friends in the world left Him when He needed them most.  And finally, there was Peter’s terrible (repeated) denial of Him.  Peter – one of the first to follow Jesus, having been called to be a fisher of men.  Peter – the one who confessed the truth about Jesus being the Son of God, and upon whom Jesus pronounced blessing.  Peter denied Jesus, saying he didn’t even know Him.  There were few friends who had as close a relationship with Jesus as Peter did, and Peter denied Him.  Jesus was truly abandoned by everyone.
  3. We’re no better.  We obviously did not mock Jesus from the foot of the cross, nor did we abandon Him in the Garden of Gethsemane – but we abandon our Lord Jesus every time we willingly engage in sin.  We abandon Him when we knowingly turn aside from an opportunity He’s given us to witness for Him.  We abandon Jesus in all kinds of ways through our failings.  But herein is the gospel: Jesus died for those who abandoned Him.  Jesus died for us.  All of our sins, all of our betrayals – each one of them find an answer in the cross of Jesus.  This was the reason He suffered the way He did.

Jesus suffered physically:
14 I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.

  1. Contained within these words are some of the most exact descriptions of what it felt like to endure Roman crucifixion – and especially Jesus’ own crucifixion.  Many verses of Psalm 22 find fulfillment in the New Testament, but just from this single section there are fulfillments in Matthew 27:34-35, Mark 15:23-24, Luke 23:32-35, John 19:19,24,28-29.  Barely a single word of this can be accounted in the life of David, but all of it is fulfilled in the cross of Jesus.
  2. What took place?  Physically, it was awful.  Jesus had already endured the Roman scourging which included a multi-thonged whip that had bits of rock and glass embedded in the straps – and all of that was on top of the beatings and physical exhaustion from the night before.  With the loss of blood, Jesus’ body was already in a state of shock.  It was then that nails the size of railroad spikes were driven through His wrists & feet into raw, splintering timber, and the cross was dropped into the ground.  His shoulders and hip were likely dislocated in the fall, and Jesus had to press Himself up upon the nail just to breathe.  He was already dehydrated, but this position caused His tongue to swell in His mouth, and the thirst would have been unbearable.  And it lasted for hours.  Hours to hang there with the agony of His shoulders, the wood scraping against raw muscle, feeling like every breath was through a pinhole in a damp rag.
  3. On top of everything else, neither His spiritual nor emotional suffering lessened.  People still mocked Him from below, acting like dogs nipping at His feet, gambling for His clothes as if He were already dead.  And the whole time, Jesus still felt abandoned by His Father as He felt the weight of the sin of the world.
  4. We cannot imagine such pain…but this is what Jesus did.  This is what He endured for us.  He knew what it would take to reconcile you back to God, to forgive your sins, and to give you eternal life…and He decided it was worth it.  Jesus did this for you, and for me.  He did it so that all the world could be saved, if they only believe.

19 But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! 20 Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. 21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.

  1. The remainder of the psalm is not one of tragedy, but victory.  If the 1st half of Psalm 22 looks back (from our perspective) to the suffering of Jesus upon the cross, the 2nd half looks forward to His glorious 2nd Coming and His Millennial Kingdom.  We don’t have time to look at them tonight, but they, like everything else in our salvation, are made possible by what Jesus endured in vss. 1-21.  A 2nd Coming does not occur without a 1st, and a resurrection cannot take place without a death.  Tonight, it is Jesus’ death we remember.  (Sunday, it will be His victory!)

Our Lord suffered in every way imaginable, and thus our salvation comes at the highest of costs.  1 Peter 1:18–19, "(18) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."  That was the price.  If you want to know what it cost for you to be reconciled to God & made His child, it meant that His only eternally begotten Son had to die.  His blood needed to be shed for you.

So tonight, we remember, and we worship.  Thank Jesus for what He’s done for you – thank Him for what He’s done for all the world.

Good Friday 2015

Posted: April 4, 2015 in Isaiah
Tags: ,

Good Friday 2015

It was the darkest day in all history, but it led to the most glorious event ever imagined.  God the Son suffered and died.  His body was laid in a tomb.  Nothing worse could be conceived than the death of the Creator of the Universe, yet that is exactly what happened.  It didn’t occur by chance or chaos; it was the purposed choice and plan of God.  The death of His Son was necessary if the sin of humanity was to be rightfully judged.  It was essential if the evil brought in by sin was to ever be made right.  And of course the resurrection of His Son was necessary if humanity was to be offered eternal life.  But the resurrection is what we celebrate on Sunday; on Friday we remember what came first.  Before there can be resurrection, there must first be death.  In this case, it was Jesus’ suffering and death upon the cross.

To do so, we look at Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant.

Rejection of the Servant
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

There is something so incredibly sobering about the rejection of Jesus Christ by the world.  Here He is: the Lord of all Creation, by Whom everything was created, and through Whom all creation maintains its existence.  In Him, all things consist (Col 1:17).  The Son of God is utterly deserving of all praise and glory.  It is what the angels gave to Him, long before human time began…and it is what humans will be giving Him well into eternity.  Yet when the Son of God appeared to us as a Man, mankind rejected Him.  We “despised” Him.  Jesus grew up among the Jews as a normal Jew.  He didn’t appear to be a superman, or come in the glory of a king.  He was born into poverty, to a family that would be tainted by scandal because of Him.  He didn’t live in the cultural or religious center of the nation; He was from the backwater (“flyover country,” so to speak).  So people were naturally skeptical of Him when Jesus began His ministry.

Yet that would change when Jesus revealed Himself – right?  Wrong.  Even after Jesus demonstrated His power and authority, He was still rejected by humanity (Jew and Gentile alike).  It didn’t matter how many people He healed, or how many miracles He performed, or how much teaching Jesus provided in which people recognized He had an authority like no other…in the end, they still turned away from Him.  They (we) should have esteemed Him, but they rejected Him.  They cried out for His blood, demanding His death…and that’s exactly what Pilate gave to them.

But that was the reason He came.  Jesus deserves to be honored, but He same to bear dishonor in our place.

Substitution by the Servant
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by 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.

The Man of Sorrows “carried our sorrows.”  The esteem we should have given Him in honor, we instead gave to Him as being “smitten by God.”  The priests and others stood and mocked Jesus on the cross, saying that He saved others, but could not save Himself. (Lk 23:35)  They thought Him worthy of death because of the crime of blasphemy.  Jesus did die because of sin and iniquity, but it wasn’t His own; it was ours.  Jesus committed no blasphemy when making Himself equal with God, because He IS God.  Jesus did indeed save others; He chose not to save Himself.  Instead, He chose to die an accursed death because we were the ones under the curse.

It was for our transgressions that the whip fell upon Jesus’ back.  It was for our iniquities that the crown of thorns was shoved into His scalp.  It was for our sins that He bore stripes and spikes and a spear in His side.  We were the ones who had “gone astray” from the Lord God; not Jesus – but we were not the ones who bore the punishment we deserved for going astray.  Instead, Jesus became our substitute and took on the wrath of God for us.  2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  Jesus had no sin, but He became our sin, and our sin received its righteous punishment.

Death of the Servant
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Imagine for a moment what Jesus could have done.  He could have called down 12 legions of angels to defend Him, which God the Father would have gladly given (Mt 26:53).  If one angel was sufficient to destroy the firstborn children among the Egyptians in a single night – if one angel was enough to slaughter the Assyrian army of 185,000 soldiers outside of Jerusalem – imagine what 60,000 angels would do on behalf of the Lord Jesus?  And angels were not even necessary.  Simply the will of God the Son is enough to blot humankind out of existence.  At any moment, Jesus could have defended Himself, but He didn’t.  He intimately knew each and every one of the soldiers who beat Him, spit upon Him, and tortured Him – God had formed them in their mothers’ wombs.  And yet Jesus did nothing to restrain them, but allowed them to pour out their hatred upon Him.

Even when it came to His trial, Jesus showed supernatural silence.  Can anyone honestly believe that the Son of God could not out-argue or out-debate any priest or religious lawyer?  Jesus was not stumped by the priests – He was not incapable of defending Himself to Pilate or Herod.  Jesus could have silenced them all with a word, but He Himself did not open His mouth in defense.

Did Jesus die the death of a criminal?  Yes – because He was willing to do so.  He was taken by evil men, but He was not taken with resistance.  Jesus wasn’t out of options when He died upon the cross; that WAS the option He chose.  He made the choice to die in our place so that we might live.

Mission of the Servant
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

It was all the plan of God.  Men took Jesus and abused Him in horrific ways, but it did not happen apart from the express sovereign will of God.  The fullness of God’s wrath had to come down upon sin, and that’s what came down upon Jesus at the cross.  Take a moment to consider that.  Just how bad is sin?  What is it that our sin deserves?  It deserves the most horrific kind of death imaginable.  We tend to forget this, and we take our sins for granted.  “It’s only a little lie, no big deal…  So I lost my temper, everyone does…  Sure I lusted again, but I can always ask for forgiveness…”  All of that – each and every sin was a sin for which Jesus suffered and died.  It was for that lust that Jesus had nails driven through His hands and feet.  It was for that grudge and that anger that Jesus hung in agony upon the cross.  It was for all those things and more.  Each single sin was enough to bring down the full utter wrath of God, and all of it for all of humanity fell upon the Son of God in a matter of hours.  That sin had to be answered, and God had a plan to answer it: Jesus.  God willed that His Son suffer and die in our stead.  That’s never something to take for granted!

But because Jesus DID suffer and die, what happened?  Now we can be forgiven.  Now the price is paid.  The assurance of this is the resurrection, which we celebrate Sunday, and which is hinted at even here in Isaiah 53.  How is it that the Servant of God can “see His seed” or have “His days” prolonged, if the Servant has suffered, died, and been placed into a grave?  It would seem that the opportunity for seed and future days have passed.  There is only one option: the Servant of God has to come out of the grave, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday morning!  Because Jesus labored in death, we find satisfaction in resting in Christ.  Because Jesus paid our debt, now we have been justified in the sight of God.  Because Jesus makes “intercession” for us who were “transgressors,” now we have been made the children of God.

This is what we remember every Good Friday, every Resurrection Sunday, and hopefully each and every day out of the year.  The salvation that God offers to us is free, but it came at the highest of costs: the death of His Son.  Jesus had to be rejected, and become our substitute, and horrifically die, in order to complete His mission to bring us into a right relationship with God.

Hopefully you know this relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  For many of us, every Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is an opportunity to be reminded of the things the Lord Jesus did for us, and express our gratitude to God.  This event is the very cornerstone of our faith – if Jesus did not die for us upon the cross and rise from the grave, we would have absolutely no hope at all. 

For others, perhaps this season has always been just “another” religious season and holiday.  You showed up in church because your family did, or because it’s just what you do at Christmas and Easter.  It doesn’t have to be that way…and it shouldn’t.  The Lord Jesus died for you upon the cross, and His desire is that you would be saved, and that you would know Him in spirit and truth; not just through some religion.  Turn to Him tonight, and receive His salvation.  Turn away from your sins – those were the things for which Jesus died and had to bear the wrath of God – and turn to Jesus in faith, believing Him to BE God who died and rose again.  Place your trust in Him as your God, and be saved.