Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent Devotional - March 22, 2023

Hymn: “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” (LSB #438, v. 2)

This Lamb is Christ, the soul’s great friend,
The Lamb of God, our Savior,
Whom God the Father chose to send
To gain for us His favor.
“Go forth, My Son,” the Father said,
“And free My children from their dread
Of guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Your passion they will share
The fruit of Your salvation.”
            Who had this brilliant and terrible idea by which to save the world? Who is responsible for Christ’s coming down in order to die? The culprit is none other than God the Father. He chose to send forth His only begotten Son, so that Christ could gain for us the Father’s favor. What kind of a human father would do such a thing? I would be hard pressed to find a father in any of our three congregations who would willingly sacrifice his own child for another person, especially for another person who was his enemy. Yet, this is exactly what the ultimate Father has done for us. For us, who were His enemies at the time, God the Father sent His Son in order to bear the wrath and stripes. God gave His own Son over to death.

            While the voice of the Father speaks only thrice during the Gospels, we get to listen to His voice in this stanza. In fact, we get to sing along the very instructions of the Father to His beloved only Son. The purpose is to free the children of the Father from the dread of guilt and condemnation. The result is that they would share the fruit of His salvation. Yes, the means to that result will be difficult to bear, but the end result is worth it, both in the Father’s eyes and in the eyes of His Son.

            I don’t know about you, but I often picture God the Father as very stoic, reserved, and emotionless. So, when we sing these words, I kind of picture them that way. In this case, the Father would just calmly be sending His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. However, if the sins of mankind grieve God’s heart so much that He wanted to destroy them all (see Genesis 6), how much more would sending His only begotten Son break His heart? Does this conversation fracture the heart of God in the same way that it would break our hearts to sacrifice our own children? We can’t know for sure, but our God is an emotional God. It is fair to read some emotion into these words, to hear the pain as He promises His Son wrath and stripes.

            Likewise, Christ is not just an emotionless tool in the hands of His Father to accomplish all of this. We’ve seen His anguish already in the previous stanza, but today we hear Jesus described as the “soul’s great friend.” Another popular hymn reminds us, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” You cannot help but hear the echo from Jesus’s Last Supper Discourse: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). How do we know that we are friends of Jesus? He lays down His life for us, even though it cost Him so.
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