Our Sins Hang Around the Neck of Christ

Good Friday

John 19:19-22

“But Pilate wrote a title and placed it on the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was close by the city. And it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Then the high priests of the Jews said to Pilate: “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” But Pilate answered: “What I have written, I have written.””

 

The other gospels report here that they gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall to drink on Golgotha, Matthew 27:34. They indicate thereby that no man on earth is as bitter and poisonous as the enemies of the gospel. In summary, theirs is no human but a completely devilish hatred. Without a doubt, they gave a cup of wine to the two murderers, as is written Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give strong drink to those who are set to die, and wine to sad souls, so that they may drink and forget their misery and no longer remember their misfortune.” But they give Jesus vinegar to drink instead of wine. And they are not satisfied with this, but mix the vinegar with gall, as St. Matthew says, or with myrrh, as St. Mark says, Mark 15:23, which is even bitterer. … This is, then, how Christ is crucified and hangs on the cross as the worst thief, knave, rabble rouser, and murderer that ever walked the earth. This is how the innocent Lamb, Christ, must bear and pay for alien guilt; for we ought to bear it and pay for it. Our sins hang around his neck. We are such sinners, thieves, knaves, rabble rousers, and murderers. For even if we do not perform the outward act, we are such before God. Now Christ comes and takes our place and bears our sin and pays for it, so that we are helped through him. For when we believe in him, not only we who avoid the coarse outward sins are saved by Christ, but also those who fall into those coarse, outward sins are saved when they sincerely repent and believe in Christ. For many murderers are saved, as the history of Christ’s suffering shows that the murderer on the cross was converted and saved.

 

St. Louis ed., 8:954-955.

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