Saturday, April 23, 2011

One simple word Isaiah speak.... Surely!

Sermon Preached Good Friday Evening, on Friday, April 22, 2011.

      Surely... we say... when we think it cannot cost that much?  Or surely they were not offended by what I said?  Or, surely they don’t expect me to do that alone?  For us that word has come to mean something unbelievable or something beyond the ordinary.  But that is not how Isaiah used that word.  For Isaiah “surely” does not stretch the imagination but confirms what is truest of all.
    Surely He has borne our griefs....   The grief that kills us with guilt... the grief of death that steals away our lives... Surely, truly, verily, He has borne these griefs for us...  These and every grief that afflicts our souls, He has borne for us on the cross.   Surely He has carried our sorrows... The sorrows that come from regrets over things we cannot redo, or words that cannot be recalled, or loss that cannot be restored.... Surely, truly, verily, He has carried these and every sorrow that afflicts us... Every tear that flows from our eyes and every broken heart we have known He has carried to the cross.
    Surely He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted...  His was a real death – from the pounding of the nails to the shedding of blood to the suffering beyond all knowing.... Surely, truly, verily... But Jesus is no martyr.  He is not some true believer who valiantly dies for a noble cause.  Jesus knew full well what awaiting Him on the cross.  He walked the walk to Calvary not compelled by anything or out of any other duty except love for YOU and me.  Yet He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted – not by God – but by you and by me.  It was our sins, our transgressions, our iniquities, our flaws, our failings...  These were what caused His suffering.  And He went there full knowing the burden He must bear and the cost He must pay in order to love us.
    Surely He has won for us peace.  The end of all sighing.  The end of all fears.  The end of all doubts.  The end of all uncertainties.  Every disappointment and trouble that stirs our souls to despair and upset.  All these He has borne for us and in exchange He gives us peace.  He gives us the end of our lives to see through His obedient suffering and life giving death.  Our future was written in His blood and that future is peace... and hope...
    Surely, truly, verily.... our sins are forgiven.  Not shrugged off, not minimized, not excused, but forgiven and buried with Jesus in that grave.  The terrible, hidden, and destructive sins that we fear most of all, these He bore for us on the cross and now we are forgiven.  Surely, truly, verily... the death that cast its shadow over us since Eden has been overcome. We will NOT die the death He died.  It does not matter how awful or terrible the death is that claims us on earth – it is not the fearful death of the Father who turned away, of the sins of a world nailed to a cross, or of hell answered with the healing balm of saving blood shed.  What we call death is but a gateway, a door, a portal to the life that Jesus prepared for us.  Jesus died the real death that none of us could face... So that we can say it is not death to die...
    Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; He was stricken smitten and afflicted and He has won for us peace....  That is why we are here.  We are not here for some dramatic account or some interesting tale or  some inspirational story... we are here because here is where the end met its end and our lives found their new beginning.  Here griefs found comfort, here sorrows found holy joy, here a Savior sacrificed all out of love for you and me... to give meaning and value to our own lives...  Here is peace... peace that passes understanding... peace not as the world gives... peace beyond a pause in hostilities... but perfect peace.
    Surely, truly, verily... without doubt... that is the message of the cross.  Blood was shed, obedience was offered, life was exchanged in death.... it is finished... that we might begin...  It is finished that we might begin...  To live surely, truly, and verily... in honesty and truth, with love and compassion, with confidence and a future, with rest for our weary hearts, and with the promise of God to hold on to.... It is finished.... that our future might begin.  Amen

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