John 10:11-18 – The Good, Fitting, Crucified Shepherd

Listen here.

John 10:11-18

11 “I am the good shepherd. images (1)The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Death died when Jesus rose. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty. The grave’s strength is spent. The guards could not keep Him. Death could not hold Him.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. As Jesus takes this title for Himself, all sorts of Scriptural imagery comes to mind. Psalm 23 naturally connects to these words from Jesus. Yahweh is our Shepherd who leads us to green pastures and still waters, who brings us safely through the valley of the shadow of death, who pours oil on our head and fills our cups until they run over.

Luke 15:3-7 is, of course, another picture of Jesus. The shepherd leaves his 99 sheep to search high and low for that one lost sheep. Then, when he finds it, he calls all his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him.

Other places in Scripture, like Ezekiel 34, God says that the shepherds He sent to His people are not doing their jobs and so God Himself will come to shepherd His sheep. Or in Micah 5 where it is prophesized that God’s appointed Shepherd would be raised and shepherd His flock and make them dwell in security. The Shepherd Himself shall be the peace of the flock.

So when Jesus applies the title of Good Shepherd to Himself, He is claiming to be God – God for you.

Being a shepherd isn’t a glamorous job. Remember that David, the youngest son of Jesse, tended the flock while his brothers were off fighting in the war. Shepherds were on the edge of society. Where were the shepherds were when Jesus was born? Out in the fields in the cold, dark night. Shepherding is a lowly, humble task. But being humble and lowly never stops Jesus.

Jesus says He is a Shepherd who is even more lowly and humble than your average shepherd. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” The word ‘good’ there also means right, fitting, true, competent. What makes Jesus the good, right, fitting, competent Shepherd? Jesus tells us, “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Sometimes, for us to understand what Jesus is saying, it is good for us to see what Jesus is not saying. Jesus does not say, “I am the good shepherd. I give the sheep everything they want.” Jesus does not say, “I am the good shepherd, and I make sure my sheep are comfortable and enjoy a great life.” He doesn’t say, “I am the good shepherd, and I am here to be your best friend, to be there for you when you are lonely.” Jesus does not say, “I am the good shepherd, and I am here to have a close, personal relationship with the sheep.”

Jesus Laid in the Tomb 1Jesus does say, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” What makes Jesus the Good Shepherd is that He dies – nothing less. He dies for His sheep. The Good Shepherd has blood, His own blood, on Him. The Good Shepherd has holes in His hands and feet, wounds that He suffered on the cross for you. Jesus, the good, fitting, competent Shepherd suffered, bled, and died so that He could be your Shepherd. The kind of shepherd you needed. You needed a shepherd to be really, truly abandoned and condemned by God because of your sin. Jesus, your Shepherd, died a real death and was buried in a real tomb. Your sin was that serious of a problem.

Many Christians will use this phrase: “You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus.” Now, that phrase isn’t untrue, but it is (at best) only half true. You do need to have faith in Jesus in order to be saved, and you can, I suppose, characterize faith as a relationship. But doing that tends to make you focus on yourself. You have to wonder, “Am I holding up my end of the relationship?”

With as often as Christians talk about a personal relationship with Jesus, you would think the Bible would be talking about it all the time. But do you know how many times the Bible uses the word ‘relationship’? I’ll give you a hint – it’s equal to the times that the Vikings have won the Super Bowl. That’s right, a goose egg, zero. Scripture never says that you need a “personal relationship” with Jesus.

If your biggest need is to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus, then Jesus didn’t need to die. Jesus could have just come and hung out with us. He could just sit on the couch and watch Jeopardy or the NFL Draft while eating chips with us or something. Ask yourself this: If a relationship with Jesus is the solution, what is the problem?

You see, our biggest problem is not loneliness. If that were the case, any number of individuals could help us. Our biggest problem is not a lack of companionship. Our problem isn’t even that we have a hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill. We don’t need a buddy, a chum, or a pal. We need a Savior from sin.

Crying to GodOur problem is that we poor, wretched sinners dash ourselves to pieces against the holy, righteous God. We cannot avoid Him. And the only solution for our true problem – our sin – is the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The good news is that the good, fitting Shepherd does lay down His life for the sheep.

Why would Jesus be willing to lay down His life for us? He tells us in the closing sentence of our text. “This charge (lit. ‘command’) I have received from My Father.” Jesus willingly lays down His life for you because the Father commanded and He obeyed. And because Jesus obeyed, He is exactly the kind of shepherd you needed.

When Jesus is your good, fitting, crucified Shepherd, He knows you and you know Him. You’re as close to Jesus as the Father is to Jesus because He lays down His life for you. And Jesus is eternally your Good Shepherd because:

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Luke 24:36-49 – It Is Necessary

Listen here. (Please note, we had a power outage that lasted until right before the sermon, so the flock was a little more cantankerous than usual.)

Luke 24:36-49

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Death died when Jesus rose. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty. The grave’s strength is spent. The guards could not keep Him. Death could not hold Him.

Our Gospel text today is a replay of last week. Easter evening Episode 2. Why? Why would we look at the same event two weeks in a row? Well, Luke tells us some things that John doesn’t. Dr. Luke wrote his Gospel for a different reason and to a different audience than John, the fisherman. So Luke gives us some details that John doesn’t.

To set this all up, I want to tell you about a real problem that is common among pastors. I’ll call it clerical tautologitis (‘tautology’ means “the same word twice”). I’m going to call this problem clerical tautologitis. Yes. I know I said that twice. It’s humor.

I’ve been around pastors all my life. I was born right before my dad’s last semester of seminary. So I’ve been listening to pastors repeat themselves since I was born. Pastors have an uncanny ability to tell the same story in the same way to the same person – over and over and over. I think it happens because pastors are supposed to preach Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. Part of their calling is to say the same thing repeatedly. I think another contributing factor is that pastors get asked the same question by several different people. When I give the same answer several times, I forget who has already heard what I am saying.

Please, I beg you, help me curb the early onset of clerical tautologitis. If we’re having a conversation, let me know if you’ve already heard what I’m saying. Please, save yourself and me. I promise I won’t be offended.

But you know what? Jesus was repetitive too. Especially when He used one little word in our text. That word is in v. 44 of our text, and gets translated here ‘must.’ “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

The Greek word that gets translated ‘must’ there is the Greek word δεῖ. In English it means ‘it is necessary’ or ‘must happen.’ When Jesus says something “must happen,” it is probably good for us to listen to Him.

In the Gospel of Luke particularly, when Jesus uses this little word δεῖ, it forms an interesting arc through the Gospel. We aren’t going to look at all of the times Jesus uses the word, but the ones we are going to look at are listed in your Scripture insert. I’d invite you to follow along as I go through them:

The first comes in Lk. 2:49. Jesus is twelve-years-old. Mary and Joseph have taken Him to the Temple to celebrate the Passover. Mary and Joseph start to travel back home, but pre-teen Jesus stays behind. His parents are terrified when they can’t find Him, and Jesus is lost for three days. Finally, they find Him in the Temple listening to teachers and asking them questions. Joseph and Mary get after Him a little bit, “Why are You doing this to us?” Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Luke are His response to that question, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I δεῖ be in My Father’s house/about My Father’s business?” (the phrase is literally translated ‘in the things of My Father’).

What is Jesus talking about? What does it mean that He has to be about His Father’s business? We don’t know yet. But we will find out as we continue through Luke’s Gospel – especially when we find Jesus using the word δεῖ again.

The next comes in Lk. 4:43. Before Jesus calls the first disciples, He is casting out demons. The people in that area want Jesus to stick around and help them with all their problems. But Jesus won’t. Why? Jesus said to them, “I δεῖ preach the good news [the Gospel] of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

So, It is necessary for Jesus to be about His Father’s business and it is necessary for Him to preach the Good News of the reign of God to everyone. What is that Good News? What’s the Father’s stuff? We still don’t’ know. But we’re about to find out.

The next time Jesus uses the word δεῖ comes in Lk. 9:22. Peter has just confessed that Jesus is God’s Messiah. Jesus tells the disciples, “Don’t tell anyone because the Son of Man δεῖ suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Jesus says He must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again. But maybe the disciples figure Jesus doesn’t know what He’s talking about. Maybe Jesus is simply mixed up on what He must do.

But look at what happens later when Jesus uses the word δεῖ. In Lk. 13:32-33, Jesus is outside of Jerusalem and lamenting over the city. He wishes that Jerusalem would have listened to the prophets. But because they didn’t, they are going to be destroyed. Some people warned Jesus that He should get away because Herod is seeking to kill Him. But Jesus responds “Go and tell [Herod] that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course. Nevertheless, I δεῖ go on My way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’”

Jesus is saying, “Hey, I’m not worried about Herod. I know I’m going to die. That is what I’ve been saying all along. But I’m going to die in Jerusalem. Since I’m not there yet, I’m not going to be killed.”

What is necessary? It is necessary for Jesus to keep preaching, but it is also necessary for Jesus to die. Jesus’ death must happen. It must happen for you, for your redemption.

But keep going. [We’ll skip the next few times Jesus says δεῖ 17:25; 19:5; and 21:9). In Lk. 22:37, Jesus tells Peter, “You are going to deny Me three times.” Then, Jesus tells the disciples to be ready. He tells them to make sure they have a moneybag, a knapsack full of food, and even a sword because dark times are coming. Jesus says, “For I tell you that this Scripture δεῖ be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me has its fulfillment.”

Δεῖ: it is necessary that sinless Jesus be numbered with the transgressors. It is necessary for Jesus to take the sins of the world upon Himself. He must carry the disciples’ burden, your burden, my burden on His shoulders and die. The disciples still don’t get it. They say, “Here are two swords, Lord.” But Jesus stops them, “It is enough. Guys, you are missing the point. I’m saying I’m going to die.”

The incomprehension of the disciples is about to change because, before δεῖ gets used again, Jesus does suffer. Jesus is crucified. He does die and is buried. But surprisingly, Jesus can’t be found at the tomb. In Lk. 24:6-7, an angel says to the women standing at the empty tomb, “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man δεῖ be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

Later that day, Jesus appears to the two disciples who are traveling on the road to Emmaus. They don’t understand what is going on. People keep saying that Jesus is risen. And Jesus says to them Lk. 24:25-26, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not δεῖ that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Then again in v. 44 of our text, Jesus says, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms δεῖ be fulfilled.”

Now, finally, Jesus opens the disciples’ minds to understand the books of Moses, Genesis – Deuteronomy; to understand the Prophets, more than just Isaiah – Malachi, also what we call the Historical Books; and to understand the Psalms. Jesus opens their minds to the whole Old Testament. All the Old Testament is fulfilled when Jesus dies and rises again.

If you have a hard time understanding anything in the Bible, simply ask yourself, “How does this fit in with Jesus’ death and resurrection?” because that is what all the Bible is about. The story of Scripture is about God pursuing you, forgiving you for Jesus’ sake, and creating faith in you.

The disciples, you, and I are totally dependent upon God opening our minds, just like the disciples were. The task of accomplishing salvation was Jesus’ work, and it is still God’s work to grant faith in that salvation. God wants nothing more than for you to have your mind opened by the Holy Spirit as He works through the Word of God.

Jesus wants you to know that you are redeemed, forgiven, and have eternal life because:

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

John 20:19-31 – Through Locked Doors

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John 20:19-31

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Thomas Sees Jesus26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Death died when Jesus rose. The stone is rolled away. Jesus escaped. The grave’s strength is spent. The guards could not keep Him. Death could not hold Him.

Thomas gets a bad rap. Was he doubting? Yes, of course, but no more doubting than the other disciples.

Our text starts on the evening Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John had seen the empty tomb, and John believes (Jn. 20:8). Mary Magdalene and some of the other women see Jesus (Mt. 28:9-10). Two other disciples, who are not part of the Twelve, see Jesus on the road to Emmaus. And, at some point, Jesus appears to Peter privately (Lk. 24:34). Jesus is popping up all over the place, but the disciples are scared. Why were they scared?

On the day Jesus died, the Pharisees had gathered before Pilate. They remembered that Jesus had said that He would rise after three days. They figured that the disciples would steal Jesus’ body and fake a resurrection. So Pilate tells the Pharisees to set a guard and seal the tome (Mt. 27:62-66). So the disciples know that there is an empty tomb. They know the Pharisees were afraid that the disciples might steal Jesus’ body and fabricate a resurrection. The ten disciples are afraid. So they go to the upper room, lock the door, and sit there terrified. They figure, at any moment, the guards were going to come and smash the door and do to them what they had done to Jesus.

Small Catechism - Confession IconBut the door doesn’t come crashing down; it isn’t unlocked; it doesn’t even open. Jesus simply appears there in the room with them to say, “Peace to you.” Jesus shows the disciples His hands and side, and the disciples were filled with joy. And Jesus repeats Himself, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” Then, Jesus breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any it is withheld.” (More on that a little later.)

Now, Thomas wasn’t with them, and we don’t know where he was. The ten were gathered together with the doors locked because they were afraid. But Thomas isn’t there. Maybe he was out checking to make sure the other disciples were safe. Maybe he wanted to see if they had been arrested. Maybe Thomas was just out running errands. Eventually, Thomas does find the others. They tell him that they have seen Jesus. But Thomas says with some vulgarity, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails and thrust (not just ‘place’ – lit. ‘throw’) my finger into the mark of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

Now, our text jumps to one week later. The Sunday after the Resurrection, Thomas is with the disciples. Even though the ten had seen Jesus, even though Jesus had sent the disciples with His peace to forgive sins, the doors are locked again. Thomas has an excuse to be there but not the others. The ten should have been out speaking about the Resurrection and forgiving sins. But there they are, locked inside. It’s not just doubting Thomas – it’s doubting disciples.

They doubt just like you and I doubt. If you are like me – and I would be willing to guess you are – when you hear the words, “You are forgiven,” your mind goes back to that one sin or those several sins that you have committed. Sins that haunt and guilt and convict and remind you that you deserve hell. Sins that you would do anything to make sure no one ever learns about them. We doubt that Jesus’ forgiveness really covers those sins.

That’s why, dear saints, we need absolution – over and over and over again. That is what Jesus has called us to do. That is what Jesus has called me to do as your pastor.

I wouldn’t dare stand up here and say, “I forgive you of your sins,” unless Jesus had said that is what should be done when sins are confessed.

Boyd Gets Released from PrisonAnother pastor (Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller) uses this analogy: Imagine you are found guilty of a crime and locked in prison. As you sit there in prison, a judge looks over your case and rules that you are innocent. He sends an order to the guard of your prison to set you free. The guard comes with the keys, unlocks your cell, and releases you back into society. Now, who set you free, the judge or the guard? Honestly, the answer is both.

If the judge declares you innocent, but the guard doesn’t go to where you are and unlock your cell – you are stuck in prison. But if the guard, with no order from the judge, lets you go, you will live the rest of your life expecting to be arrested again because you haven’t been justly declared innocent.

Christ is your Judge, and because of what He has done, He declares you innocent. God then orders pastors – the people who have been given the keys (Mt. 16:19) – to go to where you are locked up and open your cell. That is why the absolution is given only “by Christ’s command and authority.”

But this authority isn’t just given to pastors to announce over congregations on Sunday mornings. Jesus gives all believers this authority too. You can announce this forgiveness. If someone comes to you and tells you about their sin and guilt and shame, you can tell them of Jesus death. Tell them that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Tell them that Jesus’ death takes away their sins, and His resurrection shows that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. And tell them, “I forgive you of your sins because of what Jesus has done.”

That is the Gospel message. That is the authority Jesus has given to the Church. That is the message Jesus has sent us into the world to announce. That is the peace that Jesus gives when He says, “Peace to you.” It is the peace that, because He died and rose again, sins are forgiven. They are gone. As far as the east is from the west, so far has Jesus removed our transgressions from us.

No locked door can hold Jesus back. No “secret” sin can match Jesus’ ability to forgive. Jesus is way better at forgiving than you are at sinning. Don’t be afraid anymore. Boldly go. Boldly forgive because:

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Mark 16:1-8 – The Death of Death

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Mark 16:1–8

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.

5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Empty Tomb 1In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus Laid in the Tomb 1Death swallowed up the Son of God. The grave took Jesus’ lifeless body into its jaws. Jesus was brought so low that His breath was stopped. He was cut off from the land of the living. The full brunt of the God’s wrath against your sin fell upon the perfect, sinless Son of God.

Was that death’s victory? Had hell won?

Absolutely not. The stone is rolled away. Jesus escaped. The grave’s strength is spent. Death could not hold Him. The guards could not keep Him.

Death died when Jesus rose.

But doesn’t death still rule over the battlefield, the cancer center, the hospital, and even the womb? Aren’t we reminded of death in every skinned knee, mosquito bite, and every time we fall asleep? Isn’t death still the master that will take every one of us and our loved ones whenever it wants? Doesn’t death still make our bodies weak, grow stiff and old, and contract diseases? Yes, it still does.

The ResurrectionBut death has died. The grave cannot hold you. Jesus lives. He has risen out of death and back to us. He came out as a king to meet His people. He is a victorious general returned from war. Jesus burst down the prison walls of death from the inside. Death could not hold Him, and it cannot hold you.

On the last day, the dead will rise. No one will stay in the grave. Death has died.

There will still be a division. The goats will be separated from the sheep, unbelievers from believers. God will not force Himself on you. He will not steal you. If you do not want Him, you can chose to remain in hell. Your body will rise, but you will forever return to the grave, even though the grave is defeated. You will get what is yours. You will be paid the deathly wages of your sin.

But everyone who believes in Jesus, the Risen One, you will rise to eternal life. It doesn’t matter whether you are good or bad, whether you are full of virtue or full of scandal. Through faith, you have eternal life and a place in God’s kingdom. God will happily give you what you did not earn and definitely didn’t deserve. God will freely give what Jesus has won for you. Christ will give you His perfect life.

Now, even when we lower our loved ones into the grave, we do it in mockery of death. Even though they are dead, they live. They are with Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life. Their bodies only await the resurrection and the life of the world to come.

My kids teach me a lot, but about eight months ago, Annalise gave me a lesson I’ll never forget. On August 4th, she was at the cemetery as we buried Roy Link. I could tell that being there and watching the casket lowered into the ground had got her to thinking. When we arrived home, she said that she was very sad for Sonia. But then she asked the perfect question. “Papa, when is Easter?”

Well, Easter is today. The Resurrection is now. The grave is defeated. Death has died.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.[1]

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] I am thankful to Rev. David Petersen’s sermon on this text as inspiration for this sermon. http://emmanuelpress.us/books/thy-kingdom-come/

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 – You No Longer Own Your Sin, a Good Friday Sermon

Isaiah 52:13–53:12

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.

14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

1   Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2   For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3   He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4   Surely 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.

6   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.

7   He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the wolrd
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8   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?

9   And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

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.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because 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.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

What should sinners expect when the holy, righteous God shows up? We expect judgment, punishment, condemnation, destruction.

That is why Adam and Eve hid themselves when they heard the sound of God walking in the Garden. They knew what they deserved – their eyes had been opened. They knew they were naked. They knew shame. God showed up and they were terrified.

The same goes for Isaiah when he saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and lifted up. He heard the cries of the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah’s only response was, “Woe is me for I am unmade. For I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips.”

Adam, Eve, Isaiah, you, and me – our reason and our experience says that each person must bear their own sin. Anything else is “unfair.”

Yet, what actually happens? What do Adam, Eve, Isaiah, you, me, and every other sinner experience? Contrary to all reason and logic, when God shows up, He offers pardon and forgiveness.

God told Adam and Eve that on the day they ate of the tree, they would surely die. But what happens? God slaughters a flock of animals, covers their nakedness, removes their shame, and they live another 900 years.

Isaiah figured He would be unmade because he, a sinner, stood in the presence of God. But what happens? God sends a seraph with a burning coal to touch his lips. His guilt was taken away, and his sins atoned for.

How can God do this? Adam and Eve had the fruit in their stomachs. They were picking the peel from between their teeth. Isaiah had his uncleanness on his lips. All the fingerprint and DNA evidence pointed toward their guilt. So how can God pardon the guilty?

God can forgive because our text says that the sins of Adam, Eve, and Isaiah were somewhere else. Scripture also says that your sins are no longer yours – they are gone. They now belong to God’s Servant, Jesus. God placed on Jesus the iniquity of us all. Jesus bore your griefs. Jesus carried your sorrows. Jesus was pierced for your transgressions and crushed for your iniquities. Your sin, all your sin, even the sins that you will commit years from now, they have all been placed and punished upon Jesus.

Jesus takes and becomes sinThe Gospel tells us that, contrary to everything that is right and “fair,” Jesus is judged guilty for your sin. Jesus bore your sin in His body on the tree that you might die to sin (1 Pet. 2:24). God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin that you might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). As John the Baptizer said, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). In other words, Jesus has stolen your sins from you. He took possession of them, they are His.

Where are those sins now? They are forever lost in the emptiness of the Easter tomb.

Faith is the constant struggle about who owns sin. Your sin can only be in one of two places. Either your sin is upon you and you are damned, or your sin is on Jesus.

Faith is a struggle because Satan, the world, and you yourself will throw all sorts of accusations against you. The devil, the world, and you will see your sin and say, “Look at that terrible thing you did. You deserve death and condemnation.”

Faith is learning to say what the Scriptures say, what God says about your sin. When you feel the guilt and load of your sin, when you are accused, you can respond, “That sin you see on me is not mine anymore. That sin belongs to Jesus. Jesus has taken away the sins of the world. That includes me. If you want to talk to anybody about that sin, you go talk to Jesus.”

Jesus, God’s suffering Servant, has given you a wonderful exchange. You sin, but Jesus pays the penalty. Jesus deserves lives a life completely obedient to God and deserves peace, but He gets God’s wrath. And you are given, you receive God’s peace.

Some people ask, “How can I know I’m saved?” The answer is, “Jesus is crucified. He has taken the shame of my past. He owns the failures of my present. And He removes the guilt of my future.”

Jesus makes you to be accounted righteous. He has borne your iniquities, and with His stripes you are healed. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.