Today we remember “Good Friday”. It is a good day, not because Jesus died a horrible death at the hands of horrible, sinful people. It is a good day because on this day God, in Christ provided an answer to a terrible dilemma which we could not fix. This is the day when we remember that the perfect, sinless Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, gave His life in exchange for all those who trusted in His Name and in His work for them. This is the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ provided an effective cure for the problem of sin. This is the day when redemption became a reality.
This is the day when our sin died with Christ on the cross (Col.2:14,15). This is the day when Christ paid for the penalty for our sins. Oh, how our God knows how to turn tragedy into triumph!
On Palm Sunday we worked through most of the 52nd chapter of Isaiah. The ESV entitles verses 1- 12, “The Lord’s coming salvation”, and I showed you on that Sunday how aptly this text fitted into the context of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In the 4 gospels we see that Christ came riding into Jerusalem in a most unassuming manner, as a servant  on a donkey, and yet the crowd shouted “Hosanna” (save we pray! Cf. Psalm 118:25 ). Now combine that with the fact that Jesus’ name means, “Yahweh saves”, and then we understand that Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem was for the purpose of saving His people from their sins. But more than that, He did not just ride into Jerusalem to preach good news – the gospel. Jesus Himself was the gospel! He Himself was the good news in person, riding into Jerusalem to do for His people what they could never have done for themselves. They were so weighed down by their own sins and so weighed down by their nation’s sins. As a result they had experienced themselves forsaken by God (Isa. 49:14). People were acutely aware of their need for a Saviour. The truth of Isaiah’s prophetic preaching (e.g. Isa. 45:22-24 ; 48:1,2) was ever before them, even while they were experiencing the physical threats of the assault of the Assyrians. It is into this spiritual darkness that the prophet Isaiah speaks his twin messages of doom and encouragement. This is nothing new as you may recall from passages such as Deuteronomy 28, in which God spells out blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
Thus, Jesus came riding into a city so burdened with a sinful history and burdened with present idolatry. He came riding into the city of David which had been favoured with so many blessings in the past – the temple, God’s manifest presence, the priesthood, all which was designed to be a blessing from God to serve the people, helping them to remain focussed on God in this earthly journey … and yet, all that blessing was now terribly abused and empty of the true presence of God. So Jesus, the gospel in person, entered the city to save a people who could not save themselves, and Isaiah with joy sees the servant of God by faith and by the Holy Spirit he declares: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness , who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, your God reigns.” etc. (52:7-10).
And please note, He comes not only to Zion, symbolic of the heart of Israel’s existence, but Isaiah also declares, “The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Thus Jesus, the Saviour came to die not only for the chosen Jews, but He came to die for all the chosen people among all the nations. As I said on Palm Sunday, so I say again : This is BIG!
And so this amazing pre-amble, the triumphal entry in the ‘gospel of Isaiah’ (53:1-12) gives way to Isaiah 52:13-53:12, that legendary and mind boggling text which describes the death and resurrection of Christ, more than 700 years before it actually happened. Just in passing we also want to remember that it was this text that puzzled the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, until God miraculously sent an expositor called Philip to his side, explaining that this scripture containing information concerning the mysterious suffering servant, was nothing less than the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:35). When the eunuch saw that he believed in Jesus there and then and he was baptised, and he went on his way to his country rejoicing!