Who does this to Jesus? Is it the Romans? Is it Herod? Is it Pilate? Is it the Jews? (we hear this one, don’t we?) Is it me? Or you? Is it Satan? Is it God the Father?
“and all the while it was for our sins he was wounded, it was guilt of ours crushed him down; on him the punishment fell that brought us peace, by his bruises we were healed. Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all.”
Our sins put Jesus on the cross; that’s certain. But God the Father puts the guilt of our sins on His Son. Otherwise, we carry our guilt to the grave and beyond. Jesus’ bruises – the punishment He bears – free us from the same. Rather than anxiety, we gain peace.
Who does this? God the Father.
Do you suppose the Great Physician then decides to let us fall back into guilt? Wallow around it in like pigs? Shame on us if we even attempt to return to our squalor. For we are washed in His Son’s very blood.
Paul the Apostle reminds us – quite strongly here – that we are no longer underneath a weight of guilt; we are free from its power to hold us back, to keep us downtrodden, to make us ashamed. Not only are we free from guilt and its power; we are free not to sin. For even as sin gives occasion for grace, God forbid – says Paul – that we would continue in it. For how “can we breathe its air again?” he asks.
I love this image – breathing the dead air of sin. With our fascination with zombies ( in the USA, at any rate ), we likely have a visceral reaction to imagining walking among dead people, breathing the air around them. Don’t we hope to be as far away from that corrupted flesh as possible? I would think so!
“Does it follow that we ought to go on sinning, to give still more occasion for grace? 2 God forbid. We have died, once for all, to sin; can we breathe its air again? 3 You know well enough that we who were taken up into Christ by baptism have been taken up, all of us, into his death.4 In our baptism, we have been buried with him, died like him, that so, just as Christ was raised up by his Father’s power from the dead, we too might live and move in a new kind of existence.5 We have to be closely fitted into the pattern of his resurrection, as we have been into the pattern of his death;[a]6 we have to be sure of this, that our former nature has been crucified with him, and the living power of our guilt annihilated, so that we are the slaves of guilt no longer.[b]7 Guilt makes no more claim on a man who is dead.[c]8 And if we have died with Christ, we have faith to believe that we shall share his life. 9 We know that Christ, now he has risen from the dead, cannot die any more; death has no more power over him; 10 the death he died was a death, once for all, to sin; the life he now lives is a life that looks towards God.[d]11 And you, too, must think of yourselves as dead to sin, and alive with a life that looks towards God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. 2 Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said:
You did not want sacrifice and offering,
but You prepared a body for Me.
6 You did not delight
in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.
7 Then I said, “See—
it is written about Me
in the volume of the scroll—
I have come to do Your will, God!”
8 After He says above, You did not want or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), 9 He then says, See, I have come to do Your will.He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”
How are we sanctified? By the will of God through Jesus’ offering of His body once and for all. Why Jesus’ offering? Because God does not delight in sacrifices of bulls and goats. The blood of animals does not take away sin or the consciousness of sin. Jesus does not die on the cross to remind us of sin; He dies to cleanse our consciences of sin so we may approach the throne of grace without shame, in the boldness of freedom from guilt.
This is the successful Christian life — a life free of worry, guilt, self-loathing, hatred of others; a life full of mercy, compassion, kindness, self-respect and love of others.
“In spirit of softness,” approach the person “occupied in guilt” — in any guilt — to inform him or her of the way out. The way out of being occupied by guilt, of course, is Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and glorified. And while informing the other person so as to restore them to wholeness, “behold [yourself], lest that [you] be tempted.”
“Brethren, if a man be occupied in any guilt, ye that be spiritual, inform ye such one in spirit of softness, beholding thyself, lest that thou be tempted.”
Paul calls us to be gentle with each other, recognizing that we each are as prone to guilt as the next. We who are spiritual, says Paul, may teach the one who is occupied in any guilt; but, our teaching must be done with softness.
We know our lives are snatched from death by the Holy Spirit; our task is to remind our brother or sister who is stuck in the mire of guilt that God forgives and restores.
“You shall reprove your fellow-countryman frankly and so you will have no share in his guilt,” says the Lord your God. But, He also says, “You shall not seek revenge, or cherish anger towards your kinsfolk; you shall love your neighbor as a man like yourself. I Am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19: 17 – 18)
Reprove without anger? Sounds challenging, doesn’t it? How about loving your neighbor as a man like yourself? — is this possible? Is it possible to be fully aware of your own weaknesses as you perceive those in your neighbor? Jesus asks, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, with never a thought for the great plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘My dear brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you are blind to the plank in your own? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s.” (Luke 6: 41 – 42)
Remember that you are no better than your neighbor for you are a ‘man’ — a human being — with flaws, sins, foibles, hypocrisies. Remember that Jesus warns “that if you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6: 32) You and I must love those who hate us. We must “pass no judgment.” (Luke 6: 37)
“Be compassionate as [our] Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6: 36)
The widow asks Elijah, “Have you come to remind me of my guilt?”
Elijah asks God, “My Lord God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?” (1 Kings 17: 20)
Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answers. “Neither do I condemn you,” says Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8: 10 – 12)
God does not send His Son, Jesus to earth to condemn us, but to save us. (John 3: 17) “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the One and Only Son of God.” (John 3: 18)
In the land of Gennesaret, the people bring the sick on mats to Jesus when they recognize Him. “Whenever He goes into villages, towns, or the country, they lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg Him that they might touch just the tassel of His robe. And everyone who touches it is made well.” (Mark 6: 56)
Jesus does not come to remind us of our guilt, but to rescue us from it. Like Elijah, he does not come to kill our sons and daughters, but to heal them of their illnesses, raise them from the dead and bestow on them the gift of eternal life.