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Offended & Comforted by Lamb of God Jesus

March 20, 2014

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Wednesday of Lent 2

19 March 2014

 

+Jesu Juva +

Lenten Theme:  “Behold the Lamb of God That Takes Away the Sin of the World!”

The Passion of Our Lord:  Gethsemane

 

Jesus said it.  His words will interpret you.  His words will read you.  What words?  These words:  “You will all be offended because of me this night.”  Offended by the Jesus to whom John the Baptist points with his lanky index finger.

 

He’s not making it up as He goes along.  All of you will be confused, horrified and repulsed at Jesus as He fulfills Bible prophecy:  “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,” (Zechariah 13:7).  The hour of Lamb of God Good Shepherd Jesus taking away the sin of the world in His bitter sufferings and death is a dark and bleak time of immense trial and sifting for the flock, God’s people.

 

What Jesus endures in this the last week of His earthly life is no accident.  It is deliberate, on purpose and grisly.  And God is behind it all!  He is responsible!    “I will strike the shepherd.”   God would do that?  To Jesus His eternally begotten Son?  Yes!  This is what must be done to take away the sin of the world!  To take away your sin!  To save you from hell’s damnation and bring you into the kingdom of His Son!

 

So:  “I will strike Him!” God declares.  Lamb of God Good Shepherd Jesus must die!  This is what it takes to save you according to the Scriptures.

 

He is, “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” so that His divine Paschal Blood drains from His Lamb of God Body to stain the earth and to smear you, an unclean sinner (Isaiah 53:7), in order to purify you from all sin – sin you’ve done to others – sin that others have done to you.

 

God the Father sees to your salvation.  So, Jesus who knew no sin is made to be sin. He is:  “smitten by God,” (Isaiah 53:4)!  Struck dead!  Damned.

 

Jesus’ death is not just the demise of a man but of the Second Person of the Trinity Himself in the flesh.  Do not forget:  Jesus is both true man and true God in one Person!  Only God can atone for the sin of the world.  Consequently, there must be the death of the perfect and spotless Lamb of God-man Jesus on whom the LORD lays the sin of you all (Isaiah 53:5-6).  God made Jesus “who had no sin TO BE SIN,” (2 Corinthians 5:21)!  And with such sin imputed to Him, God made Jesus to be “a curse,” on the tree (Galatians 3:13)!

 

Attributes that you would bullishly keep away from God in order to protect Him – like sin, death, and damnation – Jesus the God-man unites.  He holds and joins them together.  Sin, death and damnation are now married to Lamb of God-man Jesus!  He takes sinister sin, icy death and hellish damnation away from you and takes it entirely in His God-man self at the cross.

 

No surprise then that God-man Jesus “began to be full of sorrow and turmoil.”  No wonder He falls on His face in strenuous and determined prayer.   Not just once but several times! So fervent are His prayers.  For He has been given to do what all the religious bigwigs and philosophers declare to be impossible! He is squared up to bear the divine judgment of the Last Day against all sin and every sinner in His Lamb of God Body so that the sweat “falls to the ground like great drops of blood.” 

 

This is no cheap grace.  It is costly!  Divinely pricey.  To win your salvation — to take away the sin of the world — the Lamb of God-man must give His life as a ransom!  How daunting!

 

So He prays:  “Father, I beg you to take this cup away from me.  If you have a Plan B to take away the sin of the world, then let’s go with that.   Plan A that has me facing and enduring the enormity and totality of your wrath against every sinner and all sin in my suffering and death – becoming sin and getting damned with it not just according to my humanity but also according to my divinity – is overwhelming.  But I’ll go with your will Father – your will revealed in your Word given by the prophets.  Thy will be done with me.”

 

This is the mystery of why He took on flesh and went to the cross!  It is the mystery of what many would call God’s “reckless” and “irresponsible” love for sinners!  Many are so scandalized by this that they call it divine child abuse[1] and reject it outright.

 

Just as mysterious and scandalous is what all this does to you – Lamb of God Good Shepherd Jesus’ flock.  It’s not happy, slappy and clappy time! “I will strike the shepherd, AND the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” The Passion of Jesus is a time of severe trial that sifts and separates.  At this opportune time Satan launches a last ditch attack not only on Jesus but on you as well.  Satan would like to have you pull an Iscariot and switch teams.  To run away from Jesus and never come back.

 

The last week of Jesus’ life is the great and terrible hour that tests and purges you until you become the pure gold that God the Great Refiner desires.  There will be the blessing of victory and renewal in His promise of the resurrection:  “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” Lamb of God Jesus will have for Himself a trusting and confessing people – a church. Until then and for now, Jesus declares: “You will all be scattered and offended because of me this night.”

 

But you insist on being a Peter.  You believe that you’re the exception to what Jesus said.  Like you’re the only person in the world who has the self-confidence, gravitas and grit to pull off an apostle Peter and not be offended.  “Jesus, even if all the others deny you, I will never deny you.”  Really?  “In just a few hours,” Jesus declares, “you’ll be totally ashamed of me and scandalized by what happens to me.  Pretty soon you will not want to be seen with me. Look, here’s the truth. Before the rooster crows two times you will disown me three times!”

 

And that’s when you go into full-blown Peter denial mode.  As if Jesus doesn’t have a clue and that you do.  “Oh, Jesus, you’re so naïve.  I’m with you man!  I’m here for you!  Through thick and thin!  If I have to die with you, I will never deny you.”

 

Right!  Your self-confidence makes you especially susceptible to Satan’s attacks.  No wonder Jesus said:  “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”  But you don’t.  You, Peter, James and John are snoring to beat the band!  You sleep.  Totally oblivious to Jesus’ sadness and turmoil!  Jesus prays alone in agony.  You’re of absolutely no help or support.  And you are ripe for the satanic temptation of failure and falling away.

 

Then all of a sudden Jesus’ Passion kicks into 5th gear.  Look!  There’s Iscariot! The betrayer! Flanked by the plotting enemies:  the chief priests and Pharisees.  For back up they’ve brought the temple police outfitted like an urban Jerusalem SWAT team with all their weapons.

 

“Hail Master!”  A kiss of ugly unfaithfulness and treachery not of honor!  Then the ensuing chaos of the preacher’s arrest and his being taken into custody!  What to do?  Fight fire with fire?  Peter’s packing a sword.  He will defend and, if necessary, shed his blood for the Lord.  So he takes a wild swing and slices off the ear of Malchus the high priest’s servant.  Mayhem is about to be unleashed.  The police will be ruthless.  Swords and clubs are at the ready.

 

Jesus steps into the fracus.  He heals Malchus.  He rebukes Peter.  Jesus is not a revolutionary.  He is not a community organizer.  He is the Savior.  “Put your sword away Peter!  Live by the sword – die by the sword!  I have the power to bring down from heaven thousands of angels to do battle for me.  But that’s not my cup of tea.  ”

 

What?  He won’t defend Himself?  He let an angel strengthen Him in the garden.  But not now?  The Christ bears an apostle’s betrayal and endures the violent hands of His enemies?

 

Yes.  He suffers Himself to be treated as a thief – a criminal – a sinner. He willingly receives the burden laid on Him.  He alone will drink the cup of God’s judgment on sin.    It is “hour of the power of darkness.  All this happened THAT THE SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS MIGHT BE FULFILLED.” Jesus will do what the Word of God says.  He will live according to God’s Word.  The very Word He preached and that you heard tonight: “I will strike the shepherd,” (Zechariah 13:7).

 

And you’re offended!  Mortified!  You can’t wait to skedaddle.  You can’t stomach it as the police seize and cuff Him!  You do not want the Scripture to speak and have its way.  You would preach another sermon:  “This can’t happen!  The Christ is better than this!  And yet He allows it.  He adopts it.  As God’s own will.”  So you and the disciples desert Jesus and run away from Him as fast as you can.

 

Just as Jesus said:  “I will strike the shepherd,” AND “the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” This is the effect of Jesus’ suffering and death!  It is the Day of the Lord when God punishes Jesus for the world’s sin.  It looks so horrible!  And it is!

 

You run for the hills like the young man (most likely Mark) whose shorts get ripped off his body in his fleeing.  It is the time that the prophet Amos spoke of:  “Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,” (Amos 2:16)!

 

Satan uses Jesus’ enemies at this time (“the hour of the power of darkness”) not only to attack Jesus but also to go after you like he went after Iscariot and Peter.  To sift you.  To shake you.  To demand you.  Accuse you. To steal some of the wheat of God’s harvest for himself.   This is the time when you are so vulnerable.  And even for that – your embarrassment and disappointment — your going AWOL –– Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 

And His promise to you is this:  “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.”  Risen.  Do not despair. He is the Christ.  His wounds will be showing.   And here is what that mean for you:  FORGIVENESS.  You are forgiven!  He repents you in that Holy Spirit filled Word of absolution.  Gathers and restores you back to Himself to live in and from His victory over Satan, hell, all your sin and your sin’s paycheck, death.  Gives you His Name in Holy Baptism and His Good Friday Body and Blood in the Sacrament.

 

He has you.  You belong to Him.  He has His church.  You’re in it – members of His body.  And the only running you want to do is back to Him.  Where He promises to meet you in the victory of His resurrection: His Word of forgiveness, life and salvation.  Where you join in confessing Him this way:  “My Lord and my God!”  Or:  “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 


     [1]For example:  Steve Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus,  “cosmic child abuse.”  Jeffrey Burton Russel, Exposing Myths About Christianity and feminist theologians such as Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore in Let the Children Come : Reimagining Childhood from a Christian Perspective (Families and Faith Series) “Particularly appalling is the traditional view that God is responsible for Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice on the cross. This depiction of “divine” or “cosmic child abuse,” as some have named it, wrongly exalts suffering and paves the way for parental mistreatment. God condones and even requires suffering as essential to salvation,” (38). HAVEN KIMMEL writes in The Solace of Leaving Early, “… in the story of Jesus of Nazareth that rang of cosmic child abuse. It was a cult of death: in the end there was no symbol in human history more disconcerting….than Jesus on the cross,” (231).

 

.Grunewald Crucifixion 4

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