Today, my pastor gave a sermon I’d never heard before about Good Friday. At least, not this way. And it was the most eye-opening, slap-in-the-face-to-wake-up-and-realize the magnitude of Jesus’ suffering and dying on the cross to save us sinners from eternal hell. He spoke from Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, which is the prophecy that foretold the Messiah’s suffering.
My pastor began with a story about his “previous life” (lol) before becoming a pastor. He was in international development and was posted in Egypt for a period of time. His hotel had a view of the pyramids, and when he first got there, he was constantly in awe of their majesty and just how much work had to go in to building them, and how BIG the stones are. After a while he didn’t see them in the same way. They were just the pyramids that he worked beside. Meh, no biggie. And he compared that loss of awe and wonder with us and Jesus’ sacrifice for us on Good Friday. How, over the years, we no longer see it as an immense sacrifice that He paid. Just something He did for us.
In particular, one point really stood out to me. In Isa. 53:7 (NKJV), it says
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.
I’ve read this verse countless times, and it never occurred to me to think from the prophet and the people’s views back then, when they first heard this. My pastor made us think how they would react to such a prophecy. “Led as a lamb to the slaughter” meant human sacrifice. This was absolutely forbidden by God in the Old Testament laws! Sacrifices were to be animals only. And not just any human, this was their promised Messiah who was supposed to come and save them and establish His kingdom. AND on top of that, in 53:10, it says He was WILLING to be that sacrifice. This must have blown their minds!! Previous to this, Isaiah had been prophesying that the coming Messiah would be a King, a Conqueror, someone who would be victorious. And now, he was receiving this message from God that the Messiah would suffer and die for His people. They must have been utterly shocked.
Now, on the other side of the cross, we see the full picture of those prophecies. That Jesus as the Messiah did willingly die, a perfect sacrifice, for our sins past, present and future. And that He was victorious, over death (His own resurrection), and in that He gave us the opportunity for eternal life in heaven, if only we would believe in Him.
All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. – Isa. 53:6
Lord Jesus, thank you for taking on all of our sins. Every single person who has lived and will live, all of our sins. Thank you for willingly being that perfect sacrifice required by God to cleanse us and make us righteous before Him. I can’t even imagine the whipping, flogging, beating, and derision that You faced, all because You loved us enough to die for us, so that we can have the chance to believe and live eternally with You. There’s no way I can show enough gratitude for what You’ve done for me. Thank you for Your sacrifice.