700 years before the birth of our Savior, the prophet Isaiah, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw the sufferings of Christ as if he were standing at the very foot of the cross.

Our confirmation students memorize the words of Isaiah:  “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

This, my friends, is the Good News that we too little appreciate and are too little changed by.   This is the Good News of a great exchange, an awesome atonement, a staggering substitution which cannot be measured – the Creator dies in the stead of His creatures – and you and I – we are given peace with the God whom we slapped and denied and crucified.  Peace. Completeness. Things are now the way they were always supposed to be.

An old story goes that the little boy was told by his doctor that he could save his sister’s life by giving her some blood.  The six-year old girl was near death, the victim of a disease from which the boy had made a marvelous recovery two years earlier.  Her only chance for restoration was a blood transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the illness. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.    “Johnny, would you like to give your blood for Mary?” the doctor asked. The boy hesitated. His lower lip began to tremble. Then he smiled, and said, “Sure, I’ll give my blood for my sister.”

Soon the two children were wheeled into the operating room – Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and the picture of health.  Neither spoke. But when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As his blood siphoned into Mary’s veins, one could almost see new life come into her tired body.  The ordeal was almost over when Johnny’s brave little voice broke the silence: “Doctor, when do I die?” It was only then that the doctor realized what the moment of hesitation had been about, what that trembling lip meant.  Johnny actually thought that in giving his blood to his sister he was giving up his life. And in that brief moment, he had in fact decided to do so.

Said the Father to His Son:  “My Beloved, would you be willing to give up Your blood – yes, I mean Your very life for a world of thankless souls who cannot save themselves?  Are You willing to save others rather than save Yourself?” Said the Son to His Father: “My Father, they cannot save themselves. But I can. And I will.”  And so He did….and so He became…our Substitute!    

“Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, dearest Jesus, unto Thee!”