My Grandfather’s Coal Bin
When I was little (I think 2 or 3 years old) my grandparents used to heat with coal. My grandfather would shovel the coal into the hopper. When the house needed more heat, the furnace would turn on the auger and pull more coal into the furnace to burn. When my grandparents needed more coal, they would call the coal company and they would come by with a truck and the coal would clatter down the chute into the coal bin in the basement.
The company wanted their customers to keep buying from them, so they would include shiny little tags with their phone number. Those shiny tin tags were the fascinating part, for a 2 or 3 year old. They were about ½ inch by 1 inch, would not hurt the furnace, and, did I mention, they were shiny? The shiny part was important.
I remember one time when my grandparents got a load of coal, my older brother and I were allowed (for just a few moments) to dig out some of those tags and gather a little pile of them. It was fascinating! (For a 2 or 3 year old anyway.)
So … there was that other time. Later, one day I snuck down to the coal bin. Wow! All that coal, and I could have all the little shiny tags I wanted. I dug through and carefully piled up first one stack, and then another. I had one stack that must have been 3 or 4 inches tall and the other one getting close. And then it got boring, and my mom was calling, so I went upstairs ….
The next part is kind of fuzzy. I do not remember all of it. I remember looking up at my mother and her looking down at me – and in the next instant I was in the bathtub. I was probably covered with coal dust from head to foot, and was probably leaving coal dust footprints behind me!
This is an illustration.
Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. He was the Holy One, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. There was no fault, or blemish in Him. But He came into our world with a plan to take all the sin of the world on Himself. Even though He was the sinless Son of God, He took my sins and your sins on Himself.
Jesus went to Calvary covered from head to foot with all the sin of the whole human race. He presented Himself before His Father covered with our rebellion, uncleanness, hatred, moral filth, and selfishness. Paul says, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) What was His Father to do? Sin must be punished. As Jesus presented Himself covered with the sin of the human race; all the judgment and wrath of God was poured out on Him.
The Servant Song in Isaiah 53 says, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; …. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
[At the beginning of this prophecy (Isaiah 52:13) God the Father says, “Behold My Servant”. And near the end (Isaiah 53:11) the Father repeats “My Servant”. In New Testament language the Father says, “This is My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 at Jesus’ baptism, and Matthew 17:5 on the Mount of Transfiguration) ]
Through all the judgment Jesus continued in faith. He continued to pray, “Father …” and “My God …” In this way, through suffering the Judgment with perfect faith, Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. The prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render His soul as a guilt offering …” (Isaiah 53:10) The offering of the soul is the faith of the soul.
So the offering Jesus made was both perfect in sinlessness, and perfect in faith. And by that offering Jesus has set us free.
Lord Jesus, I am amazed that You would come, bringing Your perfect life to redeem me, Your perfect faith to cover my faithlessness, and Your holy and sinless soul to be the ransom for my soul. Help me to see all my sins taken away and carried by You; and to know the freedom and joy that comes to me in Your words and promises. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.