Good Friday – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Good Friday is a unique day in the church year. A note of sorrow runs through Vespers as our most faithful Friend, Jesus Christ, died under the most bitter sufferings. We are to blame for His death, so we mourn not only our sins, but also His death. A note of joy runs through Vespers as well because His death brings us life.

This day was prophesied long ago by Isaiah. His prophecy shows us His bitterness in His suffering and death. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? Christ’s soul suffered much bitterness as He watches His own people send Him to the cross.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah perfectly describes how the suffering Servant will die. His death will make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. When Jesus sheds His blood for your sins, a judicial transaction takes place. Your sins no longer count against you. They are credited to Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, Whose offering of blood on your behalf accounts you righteous before God Almighty.

Isaiah also shows us the reason why Jesus suffers and dies for your sins. Although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth, He suffers violence and deceit for your sake. Jesus becomes our surety for us poor sinners and indeed for every sinner, for the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Every sin ever committed, past, present, and future, is paid for in Christ. Your sins send Jesus to the cross. Jesus willingly suffers for your transgressions. Though your sins are like scarlet, they are as white as snow in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. You have sorrow, but in the midst of sorrow there is joy, for it is finished.

Isaiah also shows us the fruit of our Lord’s suffering and death. He sheds blood and dies. You receive, by faith, salvation from sin, death, and hell. Jesus is considered an unrighteous criminal worthy of death. You receive righteousness, life, and salvation. Isaiah says, Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? You would think that if someone dies for sin, everyone would rush to believe and embrace this gift. You would be wrong. Salvation is acquired for all, is offered to all, but many reject it in unbelief. They refuse to believe someone would die for their sin, if they even believe there is such a thing as sin.

This is why salvation is granted only to those who see Jesus as their Savior by believing in them. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But 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. Believing Christ died for your sin presupposes you know you are a sinner and have remorse and sorrow for your sins. What more forcible, more terrible declaration and preaching of God’s wrath against sin is there than the suffering and death of Christ, His Son?

Perhaps this is one reason why many will not believe Jesus Christ died for their sins. They see God’s wrath against His Son as bizarre or simply unbelieveable. The mystery of faith is caused by the preaching of the Gospel that tells of the bottomless love of the Lord. That’s the great love of the Father and the Son for you. He doesn’t provide a way for you to pay for your own sin. He provides His Son to do it for you. When you believe it, it is yours.

There’s nothing left to do but wait for the inevitable resurrection of Jesus from the dead, not to mention our own resurrection from the dead. You don’t deserve this gift, but our Father in heaven gives it to you because He loves you. Receive it, rejoice in it, and believe that everything is taken care of by the only God willing to die for your sake.

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