The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. (Isaiah l. 5) The Lord Jesus Christ has been pinned to the gibbet or the Cross of Calvary. His ears are open always to His Father’s voice. He will not rebel nor revolt in the time of His agony. He will find neither bitterness nor resentment in His heart of hearts. He has come to do the will and work of His Eternal Father, and the Father’s will and Word is always begotten in Him. He will open His ears to what the Father commands Him to say. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (Ibid, 6) The Lord Jesus Christ’s flesh is full of pain and agony. Prior to this Crucifixion the whips and chains have lacerated His back and torn the skin from his body. He is utterly afflicted. But those who have done this thing do not know the Father and His wisdom. And so the Son will beg forgiveness for them. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. (St. Luke xxiii. 34) They are His enemies today, but tomorrow they may become His friends. Jesus does not hate them, but loves them. He desires no revenge upon them save what His love might now elicit from them, ruling mercifully from the new throne of His Grace.
For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Ibid, 7) Jesus believes and trusts that the Father will help Him. He shall not entertain doubt, confusion, or hesitancy in His mind. He will courageously face increasing pain and agony in His body, soul, and spirit. He will embrace fortitude and resolution in order to fulfill the Father’s will in the midst of His powerlessness. He is bringing human nature in all of its alienation from God into death. He is bringing fallen Man into death. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.(Ibid, 8) The Father justifies and vindicates the Son’s death and makes it good. The devil is invited into the suffering and death of Jesus to do as he likes. He has never yet been able to conquer Jesus, and now is no exception. He attacks Jesus’ body in the hope of getting at His human soul. He will attack Jesus’ human soul in order to sever it from the Divine Word. The body endures the devil’s final blows, but the enemy, more exhausted than Jesus, falls back into hell. The physical nature is killed, but that is all. The human soul and the divine soul continue the dialogue that leads to salvation. The devil is defeated and the salvation event moves forward.
Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. (Ibid, 9) The body must die, but Jesus is by no means condemned by His Father. Jesus is fulfilling His Father’s will. Man’s old nature is ushered into death, surrounded by the goodness and love of God, who forever desires its reconciliation and return. Who is among you that feareth the Lord that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. (Ibid, 11) Man thinks that he can walk by his own light. He cannot. His own light without God is darkness. The Lord alone lovingly makes Man’s life and the light through which he is made to walk. The Lord has revealed His Everlasting Light in Jesus Christ, and the world has preferred the darkness. Man has made quite a fire for the Son of God. The fire is the crucifixion. Man has thought that he could put out God’s light. Christ turns the fire of envy, hatred and malice into the Light that loves man still. Man is proved to be impotent and meaningless in the light of God’s wisdom, which generates the love that makes life out of suffering and death. The light is God’s wisdom and the love is His forgiveness. Both shall be offered but never compelled. If we resist and refuse this life, this light, this love, God says this: This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in [your] sorrow. (Ibid, 11) Let us rather embrace God’s light and love this night. In His light, let us see that light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, (St. John i. 9) and warms our heart with His love from the throne of His suffering and death. Amen.