Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted, by Pr. Rossow

It is raining here in Chicago as I write this, during the first hour of our Lord’s suffering on the cross. I am not sure which is more appropriate to mark His death, a gloomy, rainy day to match the mood of the law or a stark, azure blue-sky day where you just can’t miss him being lifted up on that tree, standing out in dramatic silhouette.

Since childhood the phrase “stricken, smitten and afflicted” as always rung in my brain and also in my conscience. Nothing summarizes the mood of this day, neither stark sun nor pelting rain, any better for me than that phrase.

The haunting phrase comes from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. The nerve of the Holy Spirit to accuse us of considering Him rightly smitten, stricken and afflicted hanging there on the pole (Isaiah 53:4). But of course, the Holy Spirit is right. We are boobs for thinking such. Even worse, we are worthy of the “smiting” he shall do in justice when he comes again in fury.

But until that day, my hope is in the next verse from the Spirit which puts it in sweet Gospel perspective – “the chastisement that brought us peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53:4). We wrongly considered him worthy of affliction but God intended it for our good.

It is after all a good Friday. He was not rightly nor justly stricken, smitten and afflicted. But the agape righteousness and justice of this day has brought you and me forgiveness. God bless you on this holiest of days, Brothers of John the Steadfast, Sisters of Katie Luther and all our faithful readers. Forgiveness is yours.

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