This week’s hymn in the “Season in Song” series on the Eurasia Blog is “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” (LSB 451). The hymn was chosen by one of our missionaries in the Eurasia Region. This missionary works in a sensitive area and cannot be named, but as you enjoy this devotion on this missionary’s hymn choice, please pray for the whole family of the missionary. God will know who it is! Once again, the devotional text follows the video. In the video, Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman plays the organ with Christian Kalberlah, an Elder and a member of St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Leipzig, who is playing the Viola. Rick Steenbock, Project and Communications Director for Eurasia, produced the video.
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would intervene to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that justice gave (LSB 451:2).
Everyone wants justice. We want the murderer to be caught and condemned. We want the innocent to be released. We want the poor and the oppressed to be given their rights. We want political prisoners of unjust regimes to be released and vindicated. Justice makes right. Justice vindicates. Justice reveals and punishes the guilty and does right by the innocent. That is the justice we want. That is justice by human standards. Simple, clean, recognizable, black and white.
But there’s nothing recognizable about “the stroke that justice gave” to Jesus. It was a stroke that caused more sorrow and grief even than friends disowning Him, foes insulting Him, soldiers wounding Him, and the fact that no one came to His aid. This justice was backwards and complicated. It was unrecognizable. This justice was God’s justice and it was beyond human standards and understanding. This justice allowed false testimony to condemn the most righteous man who ever lived. This justice, God Himself, took the Innocent and made Him guilty. This justice took the murderer and released him, letting the Innocent take his place. It was a blow dealt by the hand of God Himself upon His Beloved Son, with Whom He was well-pleased. The Beloved Son Who did all that was asked of Him by the Father, Who fulfilled the whole Law, raised the dead, healed the sick, forgave sins, defended the poor and the oppressed, and condemned the unrighteous.
This justice put Jesus to death precisely because He was the One who had fulfilled the Law perfectly, precisely because He had raised the dead, healed the sick, forgiven sins, defended the poor and the oppressed, and condemned the unrighteous. This justice, God Himself, administered the deepest stroke of grief and pain when He left the Innocent One hanging upon the tree to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4, ESV).
This justice puts to death the Righteous One and pardons me and you. We are murderers, adulterers, idolators, coveters and liars. We do not honor our parents or keep the Sabbath day holy. We swear, lie, deceive, and use Satanic arts by His Name. Yet we go free! We go free, and God pierces Him! We become those who speak forgiveness and peace, who have mercy on others, who love our neighbors. We live when we should die. We are raised up. The Innocent is condemned. The guilty are pardoned. This is the justice of God! And it is marvelous in our sight.
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 53:5-6, ESV).
Let us Pray: Lord God, Your justice is not our justice, help us to live in the knowledge that Your justice has freely pardoned us through the death of Your innocent Son so that we may proclaim that justice to a world imprisoned by sin and death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- You can still read last week’s devotion and see the video for “Christ, the Life of All the Living” on the Eurasia Blog!
- Please pray for all our missionaries for continued safety, encouragement in their vocations and more opportunities to proclaim the Gospel of God’s justice to all!