Joseph & Jesus’ Passion St. John, Galveston 3/11/20
“He was Numbered Among Transgressors”
Genesis 39:1-21, Luke 22:31-51
436, 439 (4-6), 934, 424
+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Having been sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph wound up in Egypt, where he would serve in the house of Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh. Though he had endured the betrayal of his brothers, Joseph was in the Lord’s favor. God blessed him, causing all that he did to succeed. He was highly esteemed by Potiphar, so much so, that Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household.
Potiphar’s wife though was not faithful to her husband. In fact, she had her eye on Joseph. Several times she tried to lure him into her bed, but Joseph wouldn’t sin against Potiphar, or, against God in that way. Time and again, he rejected Potiphar’s wife, choosing instead to be a faithful servant of his master. “One day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.”
That piece of Joseph’s garment would later be used by Potiphar’s wife to prove to others that Joseph had taken advantage of her, even though no such thing had happened. She said to her husband, “the Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came into me to laugh at me. But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.” Potiphar’s anger raged against Joseph and he was put in prison for his “crime.” What was his crime?
Well, his was a most grievous crime, indeed! He exhibited faithfulness and integrity to his master and toward God!
Jesus too was unjustly accused of crimes. He was said to have threatened to tear down the temple and to build it again in three days. He was said to have denied Caesar’s power and authority. But, most of all, He was said to have blasphemed God because He claimed that He and the Father were one.
“O dearest Jesus, what law hast Thou broken
That such sharp sentence should on Thee be spoken?
Of what great crime hast Thou to make confession,
What dark transgresson?”
In the end though, it wasn’t the false accusations that weighed so heavily upon Jesus, that caused His sweat in the Garden to become like drops of blood.
“Whence come these sorrows, whence this mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which Thou, must languish;
Yea, all the wrath, the woe, Thou does inherit,
This I do merit.”
In the end, that is, upon the cross, “Jesus would be counted among transgressors.” What was His crime? What was His great transgression? Well, He dared to fulfill the holy and righteous will of His Father to “become the sin of the world.” St. Paul later wrote of Jesus transgression, saying, “God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin that we might be the righteousness of God in Him.”
In the 4th century A.D. the early church Fathers argued over how to describe the divinity of Jesus. This was the time when the Nicene Creed was written and adopted by the Church. We say in the Creed that Jesus is of “one substance with the Father.” Others in the 4th century didn’t want to use the phrase “one, or, same substance,” rather, they wanted to confess that Jesus is of “a similar substance with the Father.” The Nicene Fathers, men like Athanasius and Ambrose and Gregory insisted on the phrase that was adopted. The issue wasn’t merely a matter of semantics. If Jesus was not of “one substance with the Father,” He would be confessed as something less than God.
I bring this to your attention this evening because there is a similar pitfall waiting to engulf us as we speak of the sin of Jesus. Again, the Scriptures say, “He was made sin.” Certainly, Jesus never committed a sin because at the same time that the Scriptures tell us that “He was made sin,” they tell us that “He knew no sin.” That said, Jesus was, in every way, made sin! Which is to say, He became the very embodiment of sin! And, not just some sins, but every sin!
And so, Jesus was “counted among transgressors.” On the one hand, it was completely unfair, because He was guilty of no crime and no sin. On the other hand, His being counted among transgressors was perfectly just because, as He hung from that cross, He embodied every sin the world ever knew, or, ever would know.
So, whatever the sins of your past might be, however haunting they are, however oppressive they weigh on your soul, know that Jesus became that very sin that you might live free of the guilt and humiliating stigma of its shame. He didn’t become like your sin, or, similar to your sin, or, even some, or, part of your sin. He became YOUR SIN, every last bit of it. He suffered the consequence of it, and He died to forgive it, to purge it, to take it away from you!
“The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
Man forfeited his life and is acquitted;
God is committed.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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