[March 30]--Good Friday?

[I apologize for a mix-up here. I was planning to post this today and accidentally posted a lesson on Proverbs instead. I've corrected it, so you'll see the Proverbs lesson tomorrow.]

Isaiah 53

It’s an odd thing when you think about it. The Gospels provide the story of Jesus dying, but in order to really understand the "why?" we have to turn elsewhere. Of course, there are hints in the Gospels about the purpose, such as Mark 10:45. But really, you need to read Paul’s writings, especially the book of Romans, to get the best explanation.

Theologians have a term that actually can be quite useful here: substitutionary atonement. The reason I bring it up is because today’s passage is one of the best ones to explain it to us. Simply put, it means, among other things, that Christ died as a substitute for us. All our sins and the punishment due them were placed on him. All of us have sinned, and he took the punishment that we were due. In return, Jesus’ perfect righteousness is credited to our “account” with God.

Now, to be fair, the term isn’t used in Scripture, but the concept certainly is, and there’s no better place to find it than in today’s reading. All you have to do is take a look at the chapter and see how many times you find some form of it. Here’s my count (emphases mine):

• Surely he took up our infirmities
• and carried our sorrows
• But he was pierced for our transgressions
• he was crushed for our iniquities
• the punishment that brought us peace was upon him
• and by his wounds we are healed
• and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all
• for the transgression of my people he was stricken
• and he will bear their iniquities
• For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors

How much clearer does God have to make it? So let’s bring it to the here and now. It wasn’t the Romans who nailed him to the cross. It wasn’t the Jews who sent him to his death. It was your sin and mine. My dirty, rotten, nasty, filthy, stinking sin. Your lying lips. My lust. Your hatred of someone who hurt you. My lack of love shown to a person in need. Your theft. My idol worship. That’s what nailed him there.

But the end purpose is not to lay a guilt trip on you! If you’re a believer, then your sins—past, present, and future--were all nailed to the cross. They’re gone, and God will never bring them up again. You’re forgiven.

The point of what I’m saying is to drive us to our knees in gratitude. This should spur us on to greater obedience. It should make us reeeeaaallly quick to forgive when others hurt us. It means that I no longer have to be bound to my past, since all of that was nailed to the cross and left there. And last but not least, it should fan into flame a desire to see others come into this grand and glorious grace.

So now do you see why we call it Good Friday?

Lord Jesus, let me be like Job and clap my hands over my mouth for a while.

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