Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
What would you think of a parent who explained his method of discipline this way: "When my children were younger, I kept a ruler around. When one of them misbehaved, out came the stick. I shared how their wrong hurt me and told them they deserved to be punished. And then I shared that since I loved them I was willing to take their punishment. Then I would hand the stick to the child, turn around, and they administered my spanking."
Would you not think that parent had become unhinged?
It occurs to me that 2,000 years ago this is what Jesus did for us. He took our chastisement when we misbehaved. Knowing we had to be punished and still loving us in a way that goes beyond all logic, Jesus became our Substitute. We have experienced generosity many times before, but nothing to compare with what the Savior did. At Joseph's borrowed and empty tomb -- the spot which should have been our grave -- Jesus shows how deeply His caring really is.
The story I shared at the beginning of this devotion was not made up.
Not so long ago, a man told me that is what he really did. I have to confess, I was then, and still remain, a bit afraid of that philosophy. I certainly don't recommend it to others. But for this man's family the idea worked. The man's daughter explained her reaction to what her dad had done: "I couldn't stand it when Daddy would do this. But afterwards he would reach out his arms to hug me and let me know I was forgiven."
She concluded, "And I'll never do anything to hurt him, if I can help it."
The daughter's reaction should be ours. We who are blessed to stand before the open tomb know that what happened here is an act of love. Jesus offered His life to fulfill the Law and let us know that Someone cares for us, and not only cares, but is willing to do everything necessary, so we might be forgiven of our wrongs and made strong for a life of thanksgiving.
That is what happens at Calvary's cross and Joseph's tomb. We are given God's divine assurance that heaven has replaced hell and salvation is ours instead of damnation.
And what should be our reaction to this great and gracious gift from God?
It should be the same as that man's daughter. It should be, "Because I am forgiven, I'll never do anything to hurt him, if I can help it."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, nobody has ever done for me what You did. You took the punishment I by my sins deserved. On this Resurrection Day and always may I offer my thanks. Now, let me share this good news with others, so they may see the wonders of Your grace and love. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries