In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A Prisoners Rights
Most of us know something about the legal system when someone is arrested in our country. We have heard the legal language – Miranda rights, an arraignment, a preliminary hearing, questioning of proper jurisdiction, changing of venue, bail arrangements, jury selection, a trial, sentencing, and an appeal process. Most of the time this process of arresting and trying someone takes weeks or months or even years.
It was not so for Jesus. From his arrest to his being nailed to a cross took less than twelve hours. There had been a brief trail right after Jesus was arrested. He was brought before all the chief priests, elders, and scribes. They quickly found him guilty of claiming to be the Son of God.
They had this first trial because according to Jewish law Jesus was entitled to two trials before he could be found guilty and punished. The second trail was held early on Friday morning before the council of the Sanhedrin.
In between these two trials he was in the custody of the place guards who treated Jesus shamefully. “They mocked him as they beat him.” There was no appointed lawyer, no witnesses for the defense, and no appeal process. Jesus was convicted by the very people who should have welcomed him as God’s Son who had come to redeem them and all of Israel.
To The State
These brave leaders who had Jesus arrested at night, when the crowds of people were at home; who allowed him to be beaten; and who conducted their trials in secret; were not brave enough to punish him on their own. They took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor to have him take care of Jesus.
Pilate tried to pass Jesus off to Herod. Herod was only interested in having Jesus do some sort of miracle for his entertainment. Herod’s and Pilate’s soldiers continued the mocking and beating of Jesus. Finally Pilate lets the fear of a mob control his decision and he sent Jesus out to be crucified. Jesus was on trial and there was no hope that he would be saved from the punishment of the cross.
We read about this trial every year and have hearts filled with anger toward the Jewish leaders, the guards and soldiers, Pilate, Herod, and the crowd that yelled “Crucify him.” However, as we near the end of the season of Lent our anger should not be focused at others.
Jesus was on trial because of you. When you find the words of Jesus to take up your cross and follow him too demanding, you would like Jesus to be arrested. You would like him to go away so that you do not have to feel guilty.
When you make fun of others, call them names, spread rumors about them, either among others or in your heart, you are mocking Jesus. He came to save all people. Each person that you belittle is a person for whom Jesus died on the cross.
Whenever you look for answers to life outside of Jesus and his love for you, you are placing your faith and trust in the god’s of this world who want to take you away from the only true God. When you demand that Jesus answer you prayers according to your will you have made a mockery of God’s will to sacrifice his own son to redeem you.
When you call Jesus Lord but are not willing to suffer the insults and name calling that will come to you, you are placing the crown of thorns on his head. When you give up on trying to reconcile with another, when you refuse to forgive those who trespass against you, you are washing your hands of the reason that Jesus went to Calvary.
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
Yes Jesus was stricken, smitten and afflicted because of your sins. If this does not terrify you then it should. Hearing how Jesus was put on trial because of you and how he was sentenced to be crucified because of your sins should crush you.
If you are not repentant of every sin that you have committed then the events of the trial that Jesus endured and the death that he died can have no meaning for you. But when the Law of the Lord convicts you and when by the power of the Holy Spirit you confess your sins then the trial of Jesus becomes good news.
There is good news in what we read tonight from God’s Word. We find it both in Isaiah and in Luke. Jesus was stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God for you. He was priced for your sins; he was crushed for your iniquities. The chastisement he endured brings you peace and with his wounds you are healed. Jesus is the Son of God for you.
All your sins, iniquities, transgression, evils, and failings were willingly taken by Jesus to the cross. Jesus the Good Shepherd laid down his life for you. He did not call legions of angels from heaven to end the trial, the striking, smiting, and afflicting that he endured. Instead he continued to the end for you, for your sake.
The events of the trials that Jesus endured Thursday night and Friday morning are but one picture that answers the question that we have been asking on Sunday mornings, “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” The answer has been and will forever be, “But with You there is forgiveness.”
For all your sins that push Jesus out of your life, that mock him, that belittle others for whom he died, and your sins or refusing to forgive as you have been forgiven. For those sins and more Jesus endured the trials and then the cross.
Jesus suffered and died so that your sins are forgiven. When he comes again to judge the living and the dead, he will say to you, “Come, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus was stricken, smitten and afflicted for you. Jesus is your refuge, he is the rock of your salvation, he is the Lamb of God who for you was wounded unto death.
Christ is the sacrifice who died to cancel your guilt. He is the sure and certain hope through whom you will live forever with him.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria