The path toward salvation involves our King suffering execution for crimes He didn’t commit, sins He was not guilty of, and punishment He did not deserve. This is the Good News that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And He died for us, on Good Friday.
Song: Stricken Smitten and Afflicted
Passage: Isaiah 53
Hello everyone and welcome to episode #11 of the Anno Domini Podcast. Today’s episode is all about Good Friday. It is common to wonder why the Church would celebrate the sorrows of the cross. the The beautiful polyphonic choir you are enjoying is singing a rendition of Psalm 51 written in 1630 by Gregorio Allegri titled: Miserere mei, Deus which is my clumsy pronunciation of the Latin phrase: “Have mercy on me, O God”
This song was originally written to be exclusively sung in the Sistine Chapel Holy Week. Transcribing the song was forbidden and so only those who happened to be present in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week would ever hear this song. That is until a 14 year old boy, visiting Rome from Austria attended a Wednesday night service during Holy Week and heard the song sung. He then transcribed the song on paper later that night entirely from memory. The forbidden song was now available for the world to hear and enjoy. Oh and the 14 year old genius who accomplished this? His name was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Good Friday is the time on the Church Calendar year when Christians remember their Lord in His sorrow. Christ was deserted after giving His disciples the “new” commandment to love one another. Instead of loving Him their King with their actions, they all fled and even Peter denied knowing Him. This was a bitter time in the history of the world. As Jesus said speaking to the Jews “But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.” The perfect and spotless lamb of God would be
Good Friday usually involves gathering together for an evening service. Parishioners enter quietly and leave quietly. There is a atmosphere of sobriety and somberness. This isn’t the service for glad handing and swapping fishing stories with your social groups. It is a time of mourning and pondering upon the wickedness of mankind and the truly heroic nature of God’s work here on earth. This day is called Good Friday for that very reason. Although mankind, left to our own devices and desires is very bad, God sent His Son into the world to save the world. The path toward salvation involves our King suffering execution for crimes He didn’t commit, sins He was not guilty of, and punishment He did not deserve. This is the Good News that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And He died for us, on Good Friday.
Our biblical portion from the lectionary is found at the end of Isaiah 52 and all of chapter 53. Let’s hear the word of God and discuss it.
Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
so shall he sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But 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.
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.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
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.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
This is an extensive passage and I will only attempt to highlight certain parts. We are told that this servant of Lord shall be exalted and highly lifted up. But something has to happen first. He must first be despised and rejected by men. While He will one day be exalted, that day is coming, He is, right now, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. In fact in verse 4 of chapter 53 we are promised that He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. This is a promise dear Christian. God has carried every grief and sorrow you’ve ever experienced. We were there when He was crucified. We were there covenantally in Adam watching Him, Smitten by His Father. When as Christians, we worry about the wrath of God, what we are really doing is exhibiting unbelief that Christ has already experienced the smiting Hand of God on our behalf. He was already smitten by God so that we, as His chosen people, will never have to experience that wrath. In fact we are told in verse 6 that the Lord laid on Christ the iniquity of us all. It actually pleased God to punish Him. Not because of some sick abusive personality but because Christ covenantally became our sin and it pleased God’s Justice to pour out punishment fit for our sin which He had become. This Man of Sorrows experienced the sorrow of abandonment, the pain of torture, and the terror of God’s wrath unleashed in all its Holy fury. Verse 12 says He bore the sins of many, this is true because we are also promised that one day the world will be entirely converted to Christ, and that the earth shall be as full as the knowledge of the Lord as the water’s cover the sea. This victorious end could only be accomplished by first going through monumental loss and sorrow and that’s exactly what Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, experienced on Good Friday.
Our hymn this episode is titled “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” It was written in 1804 by Thomas Kelly. Ive changed the tune only. Let’s take a look at the words.
1 Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
see him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected;
yes, my soul, ’tis he, ’tis he!
‘Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
by his Son God now has spoken:
’tis the true and faithful Word.
2 Tell me, ye who hear him groaning,
was there ever grief like his?
Friends thro’ fear his cause disowning,
foes insulting his distress;
many hands were raised to wound him,
none would interpose to save;
but the deepest stroke that pierced him
was the stroke that Justice gave.
3 Ye who think of sin but lightly
nor suppose the evil great
here may view its nature rightly,
here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
see who bears the awful load;
’tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.
4 Here we have a firm foundation,
here the refuge of the lost;
Christ’s the Rock of our salvation,
his the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
who on him their hope have built.
Verse 1 describes Christ’s crucifixion and rejection as well as correctly identifies Him as the long awaited Prophet, from the line of David but also Lord of David. We then sing that God is now speaking to us through the true and faithful Word who is Christ.
Verse 2 Asks the questions if there was ever grief like the groaning grief that Christ experienced. His friends leave him and His cause. His foes insult him, raise their hands to wound him and not a single person would put a stop to this. Through all of this though, the greatest pain He experienced was that of the stroke of Justice that came from His Father.
Verse 3 puts a serious question to our hearts. All of us who don’t think that our sin is a big deal can see Christ suffering the wrath of God and realize that it was our sin that He is dying for. He is the one, the Word, who is the sacrifice and bears the weight of our sin.
Verse 4 speaks to our hope in Christ. He is our firm foundation and for those lost, our refuge. He is the Rock or our salvation and if we boast in anything we boast in Him the Lamb of God who was wounded for sinners and took away our guilt and shame. The song ends with the following promise: “None shall ever be confounded who on Him their hope have built.” We can build our lives on the Rock of Christ and we shall never be let down.
As I leave you on the Good Friday, remember that Easter is coming. God’s mercies are new every morning because they were new on that Easter morning and the world has never been the same since.
We’ll see you on Sunday, the day the new creation was born.