Sermon for Good Friday Tenebrae

Sermon for Good Friday Tenebrae

(Transcribed by machine 04/07/2024)

In the name of Jesus, amen.
Dear Saints of God, I was recently visiting with someone who told me that they once heard
a sermon in which the following line was spoken, there is no place in the house of God for
those who have been divorced.
They told me that when they heard that they didn’t stop coming to church, but
every time that they came to church they felt like they shouldn’t be there, like
they didn’t belong. I’ll admit to you that I was angry and sad, was mourning with
this person, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a
great difficulty with the endeavor that the Lord Jesus has given to us, to me, your preacher,
to Pastor LeBlanc and Pastor Davis, and to you, the hearers of God’s Word.
There are two things that must be said, that God commands to be said, and two things that
must be heard, and they must be heard together. This is difficult. The devil attacks it at
every turn. The devil makes it hard for me to say the two things that I’m supposed to
say, and the devil makes it hard for you to hear the two things that you are supposed
to hear. But to say them clearly and to hear them with faith is what the
business of the Lord’s Church is about. It’s why we gather here every Sunday
and every year on Good Friday and every other opportunity so that
the Lord can speak and we as people can hear it. And here are the two
things. God hates sin. And number two, God’s hatred of sin is placed on our Lord
Jesus Christ. Now it’s easy to hear one or the other of those two things. It’s
It’s easy for the church to become a place where the law is preached in ferocity and
clarity where we all recognize that we’re all miserable sinners, that none of us deserve
to be here, that all of us deserve God’s wrath.
Or it’s easy just to believe the other thing, that God is nice and kind and generous and
loving, but those two things must be together, always together.
For the cross of Jesus to make sense, those two things must be heard and must
be believed. Jesus, after all, on the cross was suffering because we are
sinners. We remember that there’s also a physical suffering of the cross. The
nails can’t have been very pleasant, the thorn of crowns, his back lacerated by
the Roman whip, all that. But you know who also suffered that pain? The two thieves
on either side of Jesus. It’s not, in fact, that easy to atone for our sins.
Jesus suffered the the shame of the cross. In fact, the gospel writers, when
they talk about the suffering of the cross, this is the suffering that
they talk about so much, that Jesus was spat upon and mocked.
He’s a Christ, let Him save Himself. I think this must have been
one of the hardest things for Jesus to hear. He trusted in God, let Him save Him.
In fact, we hear a little echo of that mockery when Jesus Himself cries out,
God, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
But that is the third suffering of the cross, which we have to know.
This is why Jesus was dying.
It wasn’t because of the animosity of the Jews.
It wasn’t because of the cruelty of the Romans.
It wasn’t because of the fearfulness of His disciples.
It was, and we know this, it was because of our sins.
I was thinking about this today, in fact I made a list, how often we sing this in Lent.
We sing the praise of Him who died, inscribed upon the cross, we see in shining letters
God is love, He bears our sins upon the tree, He brings us mercy from above.
Not all the blood of beasts, but Christ the heavenly Lamb takes all our sins away, a sacrifice
of nobler name and richer blood than they.
Alas, and did my Savior bleed?
Was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree?
Well might the sun and darkness hide and shut His glories when God the mighty Maker died
for his own creature’s sins.
A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, the guilt of sinners bearing, and laden with the sins
of earth, none else the burden sharing, goes patient on, grows weak and faint, to slaughter
lead without complaint, that spotless life to offer.
He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies, the mockery, and yet replies, all this I
gladly suffer, so that Jesus on the cross is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin
of the world.
And that means your sin and mine.
And when we understand this, when we understand that Jesus was suffering for our sins, we
are really, really close to understand what was going on.
But we’re not there yet.
There’s something else that we have to see.
I want to show you this in the Old Testament lesson in Isaiah.
It’s on page 4.
Could you look on page 4 of your bulletin?
There are two like-a-sheeps that Isaiah is looking at.
The first like-a-sheep is you and me.
It’s in verse 6, toward the top, all we like sheep have gone astray.
We’ve turned everyone to His own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us
all.
He was oppressed, He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.
And here’s the second like a sheep, He, like a lamb that’s led to the slaughter, and like
a sheep that is before its shearers is silent, He opened not His mouth.
So you are the wandering sheep and he is the obedient one. You and I are the loud
mouthed sheep and he is the quiet one. You and I are the law-breaking
sheep and he is the righteous one. And yet all that we have done wrong is
placed upon Him. Look at verse 5. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for
our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace. In other words, it’s
our sin, our guilt, our breaking of the law, our disobedience, our rebellion, our being
the enemies of God. That is what Jesus is suffering. Now, again, we sing it, we confess
it, we see it here in the text, and this is almost the entire point, but there’s
one more thing, and this is this, and this is I think what’s maybe
missed too often. It is not our sins that Jesus is suffering. It’s because of our
sins for sure, but Jesus on the cross is suffering the wrath of God that our sins
have deserved. Do you see the very first line on the page? Yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. Or look at verse 10. Yet it was the will of the Lord
to crush him. He has put him to grief. Jesus on the cross is not simply
suffering your sin. Jesus on the cross is suffering God’s wrath for our sin, God’s
anger for your sin and mine. It must be that God hates sin.
We were thinking about it earlier, and we’ll hear this word from the cross in
just a few minutes where our Lord Jesus cries out towards the end of his suffering
after these three hours of darkness and six hours on the cross,
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, that is, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
This is what I’m talking about.
Now at this point I want us to be very careful because oftentimes we can misread it and say
that it’s the Father who’s pouring out His wrath on the Son.
Sometimes we even sing that.
But that’s not what Jesus says.
Jesus does not cry out,
my Father, my Father, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus did pray three times from the cross,
and twice he did pray to the Father.
Father, forgive them.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
But we have to be very careful that when Jesus cries out,
my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
He’s not simply praying to the Father.
He there is even praying to himself. It’s not just the God the Father that hates
sin, and it’s like we get this idea that God the Father is really really strict
but his son is not so strict and so he’s the nice part of the Trinity who makes a
way for us to be friends of God. No, no. Jesus hates sin as much as the Father
and as much as the Spirit. God is holy and it is precisely his
holiness from which his wrath over sin grows. So it is the wrath and the
anger of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit over all the sins of the world and
over each sin that we committed.
That is why Jesus is being forsaken.
When he says, my God, my God, why are you forsaking me?
The entire wrath of all of the Godhead, the entire Holy Trinity, is being poured out.
And here’s the point.
Instead of on you, who deserve it, and me, who surely deserves it, it is being poured
out on Christ who does not deserve it, because He would rather suffer all of that, all of
His own anger and all of His own wrath over all of your sin and iniquity than you suffer
it.
He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities so that the chastisement
that brought us peace would be upon him and that by his stripes we are healed.
His suffering is our peace. His wounds are our healing. He takes away the wrath
of God for us and this must be preached and this must be believed. I suppose it’s
true that there’s no place in the house of God for those who have been divorced.
It’s true that there’s no place in the house of God for those who have murdered,
for those who have cursed, for those who have lied, for those who have stolen, for
those who have been bitter, for those who have blasphemed, for those who have
cursed God, for those who have broken God’s law. I suppose it’s true that
there’s no room in the house of God for sinners like me and like you. But the
Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world has prevailed. And He
not only makes a place for you in the house of God, He makes a place for you in
the heart of God. He makes a place for you in eternal life. Because of what He
accomplished on the cross, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see a single sin, a
single law broken, a single transgression or iniquity. He sees only the perfection
and the righteousness of His Son. And He, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
love you with a love so deep and so profound that we could never sound the
depths of it or imagine the height of it or measure the breadth of it. God so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten Son, his wrath on Christ so that his love
might be on you. May God grant us his spirit so that these things would be
clearly spoken, clearly heard, and clearly believed.
In the name of Jesus, amen.
Peace of God, which passes all understanding,
guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.