Passion Week (Part 3)

So God has set his moral law.  We are to do this and not do that.  We are to stay within the parameters of that law, according to God’s interpretation, but “We all went astray like sheep,” (Isa 53.6a, HCSB).  At first maybe it wasn’t so bad (in our eyes), but soon, we went from straying to outright turning.  “we all have turned to our own way,” (Isa 53.6b, HCSB).  Thus we are clearly held to be unrighteous or wicked according to the standards that God will use.  Thus His punishment, His wrath will be given.  But how?

And the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all, (Isa 53.6c, HCSB).  This straying, this turning, is no small deal.  It is iniquity, which is a big word for sin.  In fact, it really means wickedness.  The LORD has punished Him for the wickedness of us all.  This straying and turning is not a small deal it is a cosmically wicked deal that cannot go unpunished.

And of course, the Him in this picture, is none other than Jesus.  We stray.  We turn.  But the punishment for our wickedness is on Jesus.  Do you get it?  Do you get it?

Those of us who have turned away to our own sexual ethic rather than God’s sexual ethic, who commit premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual sex, who view pornography, and the like, that must be punished, but it is Jesus who received it.

Those of us who have turned away to our own idols who worship the political stars, the sports stars, the entertainment stars, who have the posters and the autographs that we treasure, that idolatry must be punished, but it is Jesus who received it.

Those of us who have turned away to discontentment, and steal time and resources, energy and answers, money and power must have our thievery punished, but it is Jesus who received it.

Those of us who turned to getting drunk or popping pills or snorting or shooting heroin or whatever the drug of choice might be to get us high or low, must have our drunkenness punished, but it is Jesus who received it.

Those of us who are angry and bitter and bully people and demean people or swindle people out of their money or possessions or abilities must have those things punished, but it is Jesus who received it.

We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the LORD has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53.6, HCSB)

How would that punishment come about?  In the form of a cross, but it started before that.  Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  He was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning, taken to Annas who passed judgment, then to Caiaphas and partial Council who passed judgment, then to the full Council, who took him to Pilate, who refused to pass judgment, but passed him on to Herod, who refused to pass judgment.  Then back to Pilate he went, who then found no guilt, but scourged him with a leather whip containing imbedded pieces of metal, bone, glass, etc.  He was whipped 39 times, at which time he no longer looked human.  He was beaten with a reed and had a crown of long briars smashed on his head.  When Pilate said those famous words, “Behold, the man.”  He wasn’t saying, “here he is,” but rather, “this person who is bloodied from head to toe, bruised, battered, beaten, swollen to the point he is unrecognizable is the man I sent out to be flogged.”  But that punishment was not good enough for the Sanhedrin, but neither was it good enough to the Father.  You see, “the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely,” (Isa 53.10a, HCSB).  So Pilate gave the order to crucify Him.  He had to walk the distance to be killed outside the holy city.  At which time his joints were pulled out of socket.  Long sturdy nails were hammered through the wrists and Achilles tendon, surely severing the tendon and bursting many veins.  There he hung, on the cross, suffocating to death.

There he hung.  “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Cor 5.21, HCSB).  There’s that word again: righteous.  God is able to declare us righteous, right according to God’s interpretation of God’s law, because Jesus took upon Himself our iniquity, and was subsequently punished for it.  Our unrighteousness exchanged for righteousness.  Our verdict of guilty exchanged for a verdict of not guilty.

When people are imprisoned they speak of paying their debt to society.  But we have debt to God, and while society comes and goes, people live and die, God never ceases to be and never dies.  He is always and forever, and our debt could never be paid against such an eternal being, unless that debt can be exchanged for freedom.  Which is exactly what Paul wrote happened when Jesus was on the cross: “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross,” (Col 2.14, HCSB)

There He hung with your sin, with my sin, paying our debt for our wickedness.  We are declared not guilty.  But there He hung.  The Good Shepherd who died for His straying sheep.  Receive him and all is forgiven.  All our turnings toward our own sexual ethic, our own idols, our own thievery, our own drunkenness, our own anger and verbal abuse and swindling can be forgiven, and we can be seen as being in the right.

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom?  Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.  And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified (declared in the right) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6.9-11, HCSB).

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