Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN
So many things comes together at the place of the skull. In Jesus cross things that are opposites are joined together. Jesus’ cross being like one giant addition symbol. We rejoice in this joining. This divine plus sign means our eternal salvation. It’s what makes today Good Friday.
So, what sort of things are joined at Jesus’ cross? Well, for starters, God’s justice and His mercy. Sin must be paid for, justice served. God’s justice demands this. He is also merciful and gracious, and He pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin. So often people want to pit these two things against each other. But in one divine action, Jesus’ death for sinners, God’s justice and mercy meet.
Our Epistle points us to two other things that are joined at the cross. Sin and righteousness. For your salvation they’re united at the cross in Jesus, in His flesh and blood. How are they joined? Well,
JESUS WAS YOUR SIN, AND, IN HIM, YOU ARE GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.
((I. Jesus was your sin.))
Jesus was your sin. That makes sense, Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” All sin is taken away by His sacrifice, that is, by the shedding of His blood and by giving His life into death.
Jesus was also cursed. Paul says that in Galatians 3: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” This echoes what Paul says today: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin.” Even the prophet Isaiah says, Jesus was “numbered with the transgressors.” So, what does this mean?
It means that “Christ [became] the greatest thief, murderer, adulterer, robber, blasphemer there has ever been in the world.” He is accounted, reckoned as a sinner. Sinners commit sins. He becomes that as Paul says, “He made Him to be sin.” So “He is a sinner, who has and bears the sin of Paul, the former blasphemer, persecutor, and murderer; of Peter, who denied Christ; of David, who was an adulterer and murderer;” of you and me, too! “He has and bears all the sins of all men in His body—not that He committed them but that He took these sins, committed by us, upon His own body, to make satisfaction for them with His own blood.”
“Christ is wrapped up in our flesh and blood, and [is] wrapped up in our sins, our curse, our death, and everything evil.” “He became sin,” Paul says. “Our sin must be Christ’s own sin, or we shall perish eternally.” And “when sin was laid upon Him,” when He became all our sins, “the Law came and said, ‘Let every sinner die!’” And so, Paul says today, “One has died for all, therefore all have died.”
“He became sin.” All sins, yours, mine, the entire world’s were all credited to Jesus’ account, to Jesus Himself. Jesus really did “become sin.” For you. In your place.
((2. You are actually God’s righteousness.))
God truly has “laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” “Made Him to be sin” for us. That means that your sins aren’t yours. Jesus took them. We aren’t defined by them. We aren’t defined by our works either. Not by our trying to improve ourselves. Not our being more righteous and better than the people sitting around us today. And certainly not our being more saintly than those not here today.
Sin was subtracted from everyone at the cross. It was added to Jesus. What is added to you is something far different. God’s righteousness. It’s not just that you’re righteous, holy, perfect, and forgiven, but you are actually “the righteousness of God.” Believe it! You don’t have to slink away for your sins, faults, fears, and baggage. Jesus claimed that—He was that!—“so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
He didn’t just do it then. He makes it so now. You are that. Don’t have to strive for it. Work for it. Don’t have to get yourself ready for it. He does it. He delivers it to you. That’s what Paul tells us: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” You are baptized. That’s what “in Christ” means. Sin gone. Washed away. You are “in Christ.” You are “the righteousness of God.”
The old sinful habits have passed away. In Jesus, there’s no adulterer, church-skipper, abuser, holier-than-thou, or whatever else we’ve done. He was those things! He died! They are no more. Left in the tomb. He made them no more for you. He washed them away. He absolves them away when the devil tries to get you to take them back. He feeds you with His body and blood to choke your Old Adam to death but feed your baptism-made new creation so that you would now and always be “the righteousness of God.” You’ve received the Righteous One through “the ministry” and “word of reconciliation” so you are “the righteousness of God.”
You are God’s righteousness not so you can go back to your sins! Perish the thought! No, so you would daily and much be forgiven, live for others, and, by His pastor-delivered Word and Gifts, be renewed, strengthened, and built up in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. That you would be, and you really are—really, really are—“the righteousness of God.”
The cross is simple math. Mercy and justice. Sin and righteousness. JESUS WAS YOUR SIN, AND, IN HIM, YOU ARE GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. He subtracts your sin, adds it to Jesus. Jesus was your sin. You are God’s own righteousness baptized in Him. That swap is what makes today “Good.” You can go to the bank on it—it’s what Paul says!
Now, you and God are reconciled, not divided, not subtracted from one another. He delivers His righteousness, makes you His righteousness in the “ministry,” “word,” and Gifts “of reconciliation.” You can be happy today. Yes, even on Good Friday. Of course on Good Friday! “Be reconciled to God!” You are: JESUS WAS YOUR SIN, AND, IN HIM (through His Word and Gifts), YOU ARE GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. You really and truly are.
INI + AMEN.