“Do Not Despair Then, O Faithful Soul”

Jesus Bore Our Just Judgment

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 53:5

As a pastor, I counsel with many believers we have experienced an unexpected and difficult hardship. In many cases, they somehow have decided in their minds that the bad event happened because God was judging them for a past sin (Rom. 8:31-32). They assumed that the Christian life is based on performance. Since, they did not perform according to expectations, God must be out to get them. However, Christ died taking upon himself our just judgment (Isa. 53:5). The Cross dealt with all our past, present, and future sins (Rom. 4:5, 7-8). We need not live under the shame and guilt of a past failure (Rom. 4:25). Christ bore our retribution on that awful and awesome tree (Gal. 3:13-14).

Bad things that happen to the Christian believers are not God’s judgment, but the painful result of continuing to live this life in a fallen world (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Gratefully, the pain and sorrows that we experience can be redeemed by God’s grace and used by the Holy Spirit for our greater good (Rom. 8:28). As we thank God for our trials and tribulations, Christlike transformation can be our experience (Rom. 8:17).

Christ has been judged in order to free us from the judgment of God. He has been prosecuted as a criminal so that we criminals may be pardoned. He has been scourged by godless hands to take away from us the scourge of the devil. He called out in pain in order to save us from eternal wailing. He poured out tears so that he could wipe away our tears.

He has died for us to live. He felt the pains of hell through and through, so that we might never feel them. He was humiliated in order to bring forth the medicine for our pride; was crowned with thorns, in order to obtain for us the heavenly crown.

He has suffered at the hands of all so that he might furnish salvation for all. He was darkened in death so that we would live in the light of heavenly glory. He heard disgust and contempt so that we might hear the angelic jubilation in heaven.

Do not despair then, O faithful soul.

Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations VII

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