Guilty, no more
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about. Isaiah 52:13-15 NLT
The Christian faith is filled with miracles of divine power. Just like when the Israelites experienced the Red Sea parted, when Jesus was born of a virgin, and so forth. Some people get tripped up on miraculous powers. But there are those that often miss the most outrageous miracle right at the center of the gospel. In Romans 4:5 Paul says, “People are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” God justifies the ungodly; that’s a real problem to many. Jesus walked on the water, so what? No one is harmed. But when God justifies the ungodly, He upsets the whole moral order of the universe. How can God justify the ungodly? Every one of us is ungodly we know it and it is a good thing that He can justify us with His righteousness. We have failed to be the people we ought to be. Yet, we cover it up with our self-righteous strategy, our every guilty conscience. Or we blame others by pointing our fingers for self-justification. But such cover up only exacerbates the problem because of our own troubled conscience. There’s a reason why we shift the blame and why our problems are always someone else’s fault. The reason we continually do this is because we know we can’t bear our own guilt. We want so badly for others to bear it for us. This is a major source of conflict in our homes, workplaces and churches. Our real problem is we try to be good people by being obedient to the law (see Romans 3:19). But we find ourselves not able to keep the law. If we have to answer for what we’ve done, we’ll be crushed. What makes our unbearable guilt go away? Who can bear it for us? Isaiah from the text says that God sent His servant to take our place. He becomes the scapegoat and every one of us needs a scapegoat. In the gospel’s message, that is what Jesus telling us, “I am the willing scapegoat of the world. Through the cross, I bear away other people’s guilt. That’s what I do, because I love guilty people.” God justifies ungodly people through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus steps into our place at the cross and bears our real moral guilt. And if God forgives us, isn’t that enough? God wants to glorify himself by pouring into our lives the mercy found alone in Christ. All our guilt must go to Christ, and all our righteousness must come from Christ. This is God’s way of release for guilty people, and there is no other.