Midweek Advent Series – “Christ – Servant, Substitute, Savior”
Part II: Christ – Our Substitute
December 13, 2017
Peace be unto you this blessed evening from our Advent King, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“We have a substitute.” So, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that? Even after being out of school for more years that you would like to remember, we often think about a “substitute teacher.”
God bless them! And especially those who find out at the last minute that they are standing in for another teacher. If I was a substitute, I think I would always recite the 23rd Psalm before entering the classroom, particularly where it says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)
And amazingly, pertaining to our focus this blessed evening, there was one Substitute who literally walked through the valley and actually entered into death… for us… in our place… taking what should have most assuredly been our place… what was our place… still would be our place… if He had not come.
In a way, I am still talking about a Substitute Teacher – for that He was… is… and always will be. A “substitute” in that He takes the place of the world and sinful mankind being our teacher. He who truly is our Teacher… our “Rabbi” who alone speaks the truth… who alone speaks with authority… who alone speaks the words of eternal life.
A Substitute Teacher… yes! But also, wonderfully, amazingly… that which we cannot get over or ponder too much… the fact that He… Jesus… the Very Son of God was our substitute… took our place… on death row… eternal death’s row where we were once incarcerated as well as every man and woman from Adam and Eve on down to the very last individual who will be born.
If the very Son of God had not taken on human flesh, born of a woman, born under the Law… so that He could keep God’s Law perfectly for us and pay the astronomical price of our breaking the Law… you… me and all mankind would still owe the full sum for our sins, our transgressions… our iniquities and have to pay for each one of them now in time and in eternity.
Indeed, although hard, it is good to look back upon and consider what could have been for it all the more makes us eternally thankful and truly grateful for what is instead… with Jesus… in our stead.
Behold this evening, dear brothers and sisters, Christ – our Substitute. And this, planned before the creation of the world. This, unfolding for us and mankind down through time… that which was shared with us by the prophets of old and one in particular. Isaiah is given the vision of the Messiah doing… being… just that… our Substitute… and this, some 700 years before our Lord’s birth.
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 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.” (Isaiah 53:3-6)
Our griefs… our sorrows… our being stricken, smitten and afflicted by God… our piercing… our being crushed… our chastisement… our wounds.
They were all His… claimed by Him, shouldered by Him. They were all our Lord and Savior’s… all Jesus’ …in perfect submission to His Father who “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [In Jesus Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
It is what is known as the “substitutionary atonement.” Christ our Substitute… through Whom we are at “one-ment” with God… becoming righteous and holy before God and this, not of ourselves in any part or to any degree, but solely by Christ’s righteousness, imparted to us, poured over us, placed upon us in Holy Baptism.
My friends, we have a Substitute! Whose birth… whose coming to earth we are about to celebrate. It is why we are now, in this season, appropriately preparing for the same. To observe the Christ-mass and before we know it, also Good Friday. Christ our Substitute from his birth to His crucifixion and death. Christ our Substitute from the manger to the cross.
Christ lovingly, kindly, gently, moving us away and saying, “I’ve got this. I’ll take it all, bear it all for you… your sins and all mankind.” It was the only way for us to be free… through the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Consider well my friends… Christ, our Substitute. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Christ – Our Substitute” 12/13/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein St. Paul’s