Let Us Therefore Approach the Throne of Grace

November 3, 2018

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

The reading from Isaiah that we heard today was one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant.

You might recognize some of the verses from the Stations of the Cross, that we walk during Lent. From the earliest days of Christianity, the believers have seen the prophecy of the passion of our Lord Jesus in this poem.

The servant described herein is not what we in the modern world would call a hero. No one wants to suffer for the sins of others. No one wants to sacrifice their desires for the sake of others.

Most modern leaders exalt themselves, and inspire their followers to exalt themselves. And rather than preach love toward others, the preach hate for those who don’t believe like they do. Some of them love to say the most incendiary things to provoke their followers into doing some they would never do themselves.

And trust me, I am not playing at politics here. Leaders of all persuasions need to take a good long look at what kind of leaders they want to be.

Some leaders try to be inspirational, while others are just perspirational.

Once again, Jesus is the antithesis of most leaders, very ancient and so modern.

The type of leadership practiced by Jesus is sacrificial.

There’s that word again; sacrificial.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.”

The words of Isaiah describe a savior who suffers in order to save.

The Lamb of God is sacrificed for us.

“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.”

The LORD, all caps, is Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

The LORD took our sins, our iniquities, and laid them on the shoulders of Jesus.

Jesus knew what was before him. He knew that he would have to suffer at the hands of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Romans.

He knew he would be nailed to a cross and left for dead.

“Thy will be done,” he said to his Father.

After the lecture on how the first would be last, and the last would be first, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, ask what seems like a small request.

“Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Jesus replies, “You do not know what you are asking!”

Could they drink the cup that Christ would drink?

Jeremiah prophesied about that cup. It is filled with the wine of God’s wrath.

Could they face the baptism that Christ would face?

The baptism that Christ would face is a baptism of fire, said John the Baptist.

James and John said, “We are able.”

Jesus told them they would indeed drink from that cup, and receive that baptism.

Then Jesus tells them all what kind of leaders they will be.

“Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.”

The is the type of leadership that should typify the priests of the church. We are your servants, and maybe by next Maundy Thursday, I will be able to show that by washing your feet, God willing and my back is healed!

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

In his service, Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven to earth, he showed us the Father, then took the punishment we deserve on himself, and took it to the cross, so we would be righteous before God.

“Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.”
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way as we are, yet who is without sin.
Jesus knows all of the temptations that we face. He knows our strengths and are weaknesses. He understands what it is to face the troubles of this world. He can help us overcome the troubles and temptations. He prays for us to his Father.

“Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Amen.