A little something for Good Friday from Stöckhardt. Here’s the introduction.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 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 53:4-6 ESV).
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: “I remind you, dear brothers, of the Gospel that I have proclaimed to you…that Christ died for our sins according to Scripture.” This is a major component of the Gospel which is still proclaimed today, that Christ died for us, for our sins. We Christians are reminded of this especially today on the day of death of our Lord. If one has read and learned the history of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, knows exactly all the individual circumstances, then he does not know anything right about Christ if he did not realize that Christ served all of us with what He did, He has done everything for us. If one completely holds the history of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, is stirred and gripped by this great, solemn history, then he does not know Jesus the Crucified if he has not learned that Christ suffered for us, died for us. We must add to everything what Christ lived, did, suffered: For us! For me! Everything for us Christians is located in this “Christ for us”.
But what does “Christ died for us” mean? This does not only mean that Christ, when He suffered and died, has given us an example, stimulated and enticed us willingly to bear our suffering. No, Christ died for our sins. That is the main thing. Christ has redeemed us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil with His innocent, bitter suffering and death. We preach Christ the Crucified, i.e., we preach about the redemption that happened through Christ Jesus.
On the other hand, this godly mystery about our salvation is accessible only to us, we can only rejoice and console ourselves rightly about the heart of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, if we have recognized in Christ our Guarantor and Substitute. Christ died for us, i.e., not limited to our benefit, but above all, in our stead. Christ rendered obedience in our stead. We are sinners. But because Christ died the death of the sinner in our stead, because of that and only because of that we are free, redeemed from our sins. Thus St. Paul writes Christ died for our sins “according to Scripture”. And if we look into Scripture, in the writings of the apostles and prophets, then we find witnesses everywhere that Christ took our place in suffering and death. Even the selected words of Scripture declares more specifically what “Christ died for our sins” means. We thus confess according to the Scriptures, even on the basis of the selected text: Christ died for our sins.