Text: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Heb 4:14-16,5 :7-9, John 19:17-30
4Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 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.
I just don’t know why it happened to me?
When Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl was arrested by the Nazis in World War II, he was stripped of everything--property, family, possessions. He had spent years researching and writing a book on the importance of finding meaning in life and when he arrived in Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp, even his manuscript, which he had hidden in the lining of his coat, was taken away.
"Now it seemed as if nothing and no one would survive me, he thought; I found myself confronted with the question of whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning."
He was still wrestling with that question a few days later when the Nazis forced the prisoners to give up their clothes.
"I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn-out rags of an inmate who had been sent to the gas chamber, Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of the newly acquired coat a single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, which contained the main Jewish prayer, (Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.)
"How should I have interpreted such a 'coincidence” he thought?
Later, as Frankl reflected on his ordeal, he wrote in his book Man's search for Meaning:
"There is nothing in the world that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions, as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one's life . . .'He who has a why to live for … can bear almost any how.'"
Good Friday is an unlikely source for the answer.
When confronted with the whys of our own life we, in many cases turn to despair. So many in our church live with sickness and the knowledge of continued suffering; some lose loving parents and find it hard to go on without them daily in their lives; some just wish to depart this life and to have the suffering they endure … end. It is with Good Friday and the suffering of Christ that we too can call out with persistent cries, “why?”
Jesus’ life was service and healing not crime. He turned no one away. He gave sight to those who were blind, raised the dead and told the woman caught in adultery; “Neither do I condemn you … Go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11
As Isaiah says:
… he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows
… was afflicted, pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
He was oppressed, he opened not his mouth, he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people and they made his grave with the wicked
Though he had done no violence and no deceit was in his mouth.
Through suffering God declares his love.
Isaiah call the Suffering Servant oppressed, and like sheep being led to the slaughter he was silent. Yet, there was a purpose for his suffering. It was for the transgressions of my people. For sin, he would die, be cut off and make his grave for the wicked.
11 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.
Through suffering God will bring peace to Israel through His servant. God promises good news, peace, happiness and salvation to His people Israel. It is also made known that God chooses to be the God of all people and that the way he will accomplish this is through his servant. The Lord will be the one who brings salvation to all the earth.
Paul speaks of this in Philippians 2 when he says:
… though [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus was lifted up though many were appalled at his appearance. He was disfigured almost to the point of not being recognized as human. Sin needed an atoning sacrifice that was acceptable to appease God’s wrath. God provided the sacrifice in His Son who was the spotless Lamb of God. The price of the servant’s sinless life and death brought peace for you and for me.
Through suffering we have peace and healing.
he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
When you suffer you are connected to Christ Jesus the Suffering Servant. By being connected to this when we too suffer we can know God’s true love for us as he endured all for you and for me … even death.
Christ’s model our victory.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Because of Christ’s death we know that death has been conquered by him once and for all. Death has been swallowed up in victory.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Because of his sinless life and his substitutionary atonement we have received what he earned … our forgiveness and salvation. He didn’t do it for himself … he did it for you!
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Because Jesus suffered we can understand suffering as it pertains to sin and brokenness in this world. Not as something from God but as a result of the corrupted world broken by sin.
Christ’s victory is you victory! Christ’s forgiveness is your forgiveness! By his death you receive eternal life in his name!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.