Good Friday—Chief Service 2023 (Is 52, 13—53, 12)

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᛭ INI ᛭

Isaiah sees, but he does not see what you see. Isaiah understands, and he understands what you understand. He understands what you see, even though He did not see it. “I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Lk 10:24) Isaiah prophesied “when [the Spirit of Christ in him] predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Pet 1:11)

Yet, in a crucifix your eyes see more clearly than Isaiah saw, and yet by prophetic miracle the meaning of the crucifix, the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion, is revealed in Isaiah 52–53. Jesus’ crucifixion is preached throughout. Even in these words: “Behold, My Servant will deal wisely; He will be high and lifted up and very exalted.” Sounds good! But it’s not: “As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance.” (“Lifted up” and “marred” meet in Jesus at Calvary.)

But it’s not just about what Jesus suffered, as preached through Isaiah’s prophecy. It also has to do with why Jesus suffered. (Isaiah explains that, too.) It’s all over the place in our Old Testament. It all has to do with your sins! In fact,


(I. That’s how He did things at Calvary.)

That’s Jesus at Calvary on the cross. He bore your sins, even though He’s the sinless Son of God! “He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” He had no iniquity of His own. Unlike you or me, He always did what was pleasing in God’s sight, according to God’s Law. “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.”

Not only that, He suffered the punishment that we by our sins have deserved. He was punished, even though He’s innocent! “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.” “He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors,” numbered as one, punished as one, killed as one. Punished as you, in your place.

What we could never do, He did. By His holy life, by His precious blood, by His innocent suffering and death, you are accounted righteous. He is condemned as guilty so that you are eternally innocent. You are accounted righteous, you are justified, by His being guilty. Sinners are accounted righteous because the sinless One was unrighteous for them.

“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.” “Father, forgive them,” He says, and you are. Forgiven. Redeemed. Innocent. Justified. You are all those things. Not because you are those things in yourself, but solely based on Jesus.



So, you are forgiven; you are saved. Calvary is a done deal. “It is finished,” Jesus said. But the Lord isn’t done. He keeps salvation going. That’s the ongoing comfort of how God deals with sinners in their daily lives.

Salvation is both now and not yet. You are saved now; you will be saved on the Last Day. You are raised now in Baptism; you will be raised on the Last Day. It’s similar with forgiveness. It’s past tense. Calvary accomplished. Jesus’ blood shed. But it’s also present tense—right now! It’s “yes, you have been forgiven,” and also “you are and will be forgiven.”

That’s how Jesus does things right now for you. This is also prophesied by Isaiah: “He bore the sin of many.” (Past Tense) And yet “makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Present Tense) Because no matter what Jesus is doing, it has to do with your sins—forgiving them, saving you from them.

(II. That’s how He does things now.)

This is how “He shall sprinkle many nations.” It’s not only in His death, as He promised: “I will draw all people to Myself, when I am lifted up.” (Jn 12) It’s also in His ongoing work for and to the nations. “Make disciples of all nations,” He says, “by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

He sprinkles all nations with His forgiveness, with His blood. Because of His sprinkling us, forgiving us, we “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:22) For “Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”(1 Pet 3:21)

But the Lord isn’t done. He’s still “makes intercession for the transgressors,” for you. Not that anyone should sin. We should be ashamed enough to put them away. You are certainly forgiven enough from them—God’s-blood enough, dead-Son-of-God enough. Your sins have been swept away in a torrent of Jesus’ blood, plunged into the depths of your baptism. Why keep salvaging them from the depths—the things of which our conscience is ashamed? (Rom 6:21)

“When anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” “Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant,” “who gave Himself as a ransom of all” (1 Tim 2) “His sprinkled blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12) Not judgement, vengeance, but “forgiveness, life, and salvation.”

This good news keeps going out! It just keeps coming. It goes to the nations! It comes to you. “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word about Christ.” (Rom 10:15–17)

“The arm of the LORD”—His salvation—“has been revealed” to you. This happens in sermons (audible preaching), in the crucifix (visual preaching), and in the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood (tangible preaching). Even more sprinkling! For “as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor 11) For the bread is His body for you and the wine His blood for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins, and “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”


We see what Isaiah did not, but he understands what it all means. He prophesies it. Prophesies Christ and what He would do at Calvary and what He would do after that, even His resurrection! “He will get a portion with the many,” after “He poured out His soul to death.” It also includes what Christ continues to do after His resurrection. It all, beginning to end, has to do with your sins, with Jesus dealing with your sins.


That’s Calvary. That’s His bearing your sins, though sinless. That’s suffering your punishment, though innocent. That’s His being condemned guilty, that you might be accounted righteous, innocent, forgiven.

Forgiveness finished, but also continual. Sprinkling you at the font. Your Advocate with the Father right now. Delivering forgiveness to you in sermons, His Word, and the Supper of His body and blood. “So He shall sprinkle many nations.”

Because no matter what Jesus is doing, it has to do with your sins—forgiving them, saving you from them. And so in Him you have no sins to speak of. All sins died in Him for “the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Past tense) But also right now (Present tense), “He sprinkles many nations,” and thus makes “many,” even you, “to be accounted righteous” in His sight.

᛭ INI ᛭

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