Good Friday Sermon

The Lamb of God Who Bore Our Shame

(Isaiah 53:3–7)

3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our grief And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 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. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

In a world driven by marketing and obsessed with entertainment, Good Friday seems out of step. There’s nothing entertaining about the cross, and there’s no way to draw a smiley face on the crucifixion. And there’s nothing enjoyable about this day. But then, that is the way it ought to be. This day is not called Happy Friday, but Good Friday.

God the Son didn’t come down from heaven to make us happy. He wasn’t incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary to make us happy. He wasn’t made man and crucified for us under Pontius Pilate to make us happy. He didn’t suffer and be buried and rise on the third day to make us happy. Jesus Christ is interested in much more than our simple happiness. His burning desire is nothing less than our eternal joy. Our Lord Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, for the one joy that was set before Him—that He might swallow up death forever in His death. And He did this though it meant He had to set aside His glory and embrace all our shame to do it. All this, and more, is what puts the “good” into Good Friday.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who bore our shame. That’s what was going on that first Good Friday and has been ever since. Although He is in Himself pure and holy, Jesus was carrying all our shame in that pure and holy body of His that day. That is why He looked so bad on that day we call “good.”

You know the events of Good Friday very well; how our Lord was nailed to the cross around 9 a.m. and hung there in bitter agony for six hours; how utter darkness descended from noon until He expired with a loud cry around 3 p.m.

It wasn’t a happy scene that day. The holy prophet Isaiah records it this way “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:2–3). This sums up the way things played out that first Good Friday, when Jesus, the sinless Son of God, took on the sin of the world and died a sinner’s death under the wrath and judgment of God.

It looked for all the world like Jesus was the worst sinner who had ever been born. Isaiah records: “We considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). It looked as though Jesus deserved to die; otherwise, why would God be punishing Him?

So we learn an important lesson this night: We learn to look for God not in external circumstances but hidden under the opposite. He reveals His glory in His shame, His joy in sorrow, His comfort wrapped in suffering and pain. For things are not as they always appear! And they were not as they appeared that Good Friday. It looked as though Jesus was stricken, smitten and afflicted by God because of His own sin. But the reality was that it was our sin. The prophet Isaiah underscores this with these words: “We considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).

At the cross, amid great agony of body and soul, the Son of God opened up the heart of God for the whole world to see. Things were not what they appeared to be. Hidden under Christ’s agony and excruciating suffering we can see the Father’s love in action. Not one of us would give up his son to save another, but at the cross God the Father sacrificed His Son, His only Son, the Son whom He loved, to remove the curse of sin. At the cross Jesus, the Lamb of God, was stripped, mocked and flogged, He was carrying in Himself the full burden of all the sins of all the world.

No wonder, then, that He was pierced and crushed—for there (T) Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, got what we deserved. At the cross, justice was done, but not as it seemed. Jesus was indeed stricken and afflicted by God, but not on account of anything He had done. Rather, it was our sin that He was carrying on His sinless back, that pure and holy Lamb of God. And there He bore our shame as well.

Sin is rebellion, it’s idolatry, it’s open hostility against the God who in love created us and gave us all we have, who purchased and won us by the blood of His Son, who called us by His Spirit through the Gospel. Violations of His will, therefore, bring not just guilt but also shame.

We all have known the ravages of shame—that sense of being dirty and filthy, contaminated by things that fill you with remorse and regret. Things you have thought and said and done that leave you broken, humiliated and ashamed deep inside, feeling all alone and isolated from God and one another.

Here before the cross on which is hung the salvation of the world, that ugly shame is removed. For in His cross and by His death, the Lamb of God bore all your shame away.

That healing is yours this very night. The wounds of Jesus are strength for the weary, consolation for sorrow, healing balm for the walking wounded. Thank God, there is room at the foot of the cross for sinners who grieve and mourn their sin; sinners who know their transgressions, sinners whose sin is ever before them; sinners who know the bitter taste left over in their mouths from angry words that can’t be taken back; sinners whose lives are ravaged with the wreckage of sin and the anguish of hurt; sinners who feel in their bones the wretched refuse of foul and polluted thoughts. Sinners who the feel the heft of that awful weight of shame and guilt that comes from sins of thought and word and deed, by what has been done and by what has been left undone.

But now all that is over and done. Because this is a fallen world, your life might not always be a happy life, but it remains a good life in Jesus, the Lamb who died to save you, for He is the one who bore your shame. By His stripes you are healed.

Every wounded heart and hurting soul can find its health restored tonight in the Savior once given into death. There is a cure for all that ails your sin-sick soul in the words of Jesus, for they are Spirit and they are life for you today. Hear Him say the words, “It is finished”. And you can take Him at His Word. Now is vanquished sin and death. Now the whole ugly record of our sin and all its shame is set aside, nailed to the cross with Jesus, done away with - in His death! Now the power of darkness is defeated and the fury of God’s wrath has been silenced. Now the fears that haunt us are dissolved. Now even the grave itself can never separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For Jesus is the Lamb of God who bore our shame away. Therefore in awestruck wonder we pray this holy day, “Have mercy on us Lord Jesus and grant us Thy peace. In Jesus name, Amen and amen!”