We have a 30 minute service during lunch each of the first three days of Holy week. I forgot to push the record button on the recorder before the service. So, I only got the sermon. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to church during the first few days of Holy week, listen HERE to last year’s service.
If you would like to see this years sermon, it’s available after the jump.
Isaiah says about our Lord’s suffering: 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 wounds 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.
Peter describes it this way: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Peter uses Isaiah’s prophecy to speak of the death of our Lord. Jesus death is for ht forgiveness of your sins. It is to save your sould and body from the eternal flames of torment in hell. It was his body that bore the stripes that should have wounded you. Jesus suffered and placed himself in your position.
The Jews wanted to take that bloodshed on themselves. Pilate said he was not guilty of the man’s blood, the Jews said let his blood be upon us and our children. But Pilate could not wash his hands of the responsibility for Jesus death. To this day we say in the creed that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate: The only non-deity mentioned in the creed besides the mother of our Lord. Pilate has a special place in history, and he can not wash the blood from his hands with a simple bowl of water.
But more significantly, the Jews try to take the blame and the blood on themselves. That doesn’t work either. They are the instruments God uses, as Pilate is. But they are not the ones guilty for the death of Jesus. The children’s hymn says, “Abel’s blood for vengeance, pleaded to the skies, but the blood of Jesus for our pardon cries.”
Jesus dies for your pardon. He dies for you. And so while Pilate can not absolve himself of his part in this with a bowl of water, the Jews can not take the blood on themselves with a frenzied cry. The blood of Jesus is on all those who sin. The question is whether the blood is on you to cleanse or condemn.
Are you washed in that blood, cleansed from your sin? Or are you responsible for his death, and now more deserving than ever of condemnation? Of course, you are responsible for the death. But the death is for your forgiveness. The death is so that you might be healed by his stripes. So that you would be cleansed from your sin.
Jesus did not come and suffer and die to condemn. He could have done that without the suffering. The suffering exists specifically to bring you forgiveness. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus took the condemnation on himself. It is his, not yours.
Only those who reject the salvation he offers are now condemned. Ironically, in trying to take the blood on Jesus on themselves and their children, the leaders of the people rejected the very blood which was given to cover them. They were placing themselves outside of the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from sin.
Now, we die to sin, and live to righteousness. That is, we no longer live according to the flesh. We live according to the promise given in Jesus Christ. For if you want to live according to the flesh, to live according to what you can gain and get away with in this world, then, like Pilate and that crowd, you are trying to live outside of the blood of Christ. This week, more than any other, you see the wages of your sin. This week, your sin is put on display on the cross for you to see clearly. This week, you know what it cost God to redeem you to be his own. You know that you can no longer live according to the flesh, but must put to death the desires of the flesh. You must turn from your sin, and look only at Jesus. He is the only one to heal you. His blood not only covers you, he offers it now for you to take drink, so that you might receive the benefits of his suffering and death through the blessed Sacrament.