Daily Reflections June 21, 2017
Every time our church gathers for Good Friday, this text is read either in part or in its entirety. Every verse in this chapter paints a beautiful picture of how Christ saved His people.
I would love to know how much Isaiah understood of this prophecy as he wrote it. Remember, he lived and ministered 700 years before Jesus was even born. God spoke to him of a future suffering servant who would bring deliverance by means of a sacrificial death. Was Isaiah given a glimpse of Christ on the cross? Did he know that this suffering servant would be God Himself clothed in human flesh? We can’t know exactly how much Isaiah understood, but we can marvel at this amazing imagery that was recorded centuries before Christ came.
We could fill a book with reflections on this text, so for our purposes I would like to narrow our focus.
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53: 2b-3 ESV)
Isaiah tells us that the suffering servant will bring true, lasting deliverance for God’s people – more so even than Cyrus. But this greatest-of-all deliverer will not come with fanfare. Unlike Cyrus, who was the King of the Persian empire, this true deliverer will not have the appearance of a mighty conqueror. By all accounts, this saviour will look pathetic in the eyes of the world. In fact, not only will the world be unimpressed by this man, but they will go so far as to despise him. Reflect on Jesus’ return to Nazareth where his own people scoffed:
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3 ESV)
The Saviour that the world needs is not the saviour that the world wants.
This is largely because we misunderstand our greatest problem. The people Isaiah ministered to saw the Assyrians, and later the Babylonians, as their greatest threat. Thus, they perceived that what they really needed was not a suffering servant, but a warrior who would conquer their enemies. Our culture fears terrorism, economic downfall and climate change. Individually, we see our greatest needs as a consistent livelihood, a happy home life and a healthy body. Given our perceived needs, of what use to us is a Jewish man who died on a cross 2000 years ago? The apostle Paul noted this common attitude and wrote:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18 ESV)
Isaiah 53 is not beautiful to the common man. This is because the image of a suffering servant, who bears the sin of his people, does not bring comfort to those who are fixated on their earthly problems.
But when we come to see that God is just and holy, and when we come to see that we are sinful and condemned, suddenly the Savior who lays down His life as an atoning sacrifice shines in all His glory. Your greatest problem is not sickness or terrorism. It is not Assyria or North Korea. Your greatest problem is that your sin has separated you from the God who made you. But thanks be to God, He has offered a way back to Himself! And that solution comes to us in the form a suffering servant.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
In Matthew 1, the first book of the New Testament, we find out where Jesus came from and why he came. Much of this chapter is about Jesus’ family tree (1:1-17). Admittedly, persisting through names in genealogies in the Bible requires discipline. There is really good fruit here for us to harvest if we will be attentive to the text.
Be assured, this chapter is really important. It connects Jesus to the redemptive story of the Old Testament. He is the Son of Promise given to Abraham and the only descendant in the royal line of David qualified to be the Messiah. Both the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants are fulfilled in Him. He is the one for whom God’s people have been waiting!
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 ESV)
From this chapter we see that God is at work in history to defeat the devil and overcome our sinfulness. He is going to bless the whole world through Abraham’s line in the person of Jesus Christ.
…And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 26:4 ESV)
Jesus steps into a long line of sinful, rebellious, immoral ancestors. Reading through these names we notice Judah, Tamar, Rahab the prostitute, Ruth, David and Uriah. We recall stories that reveal the depth of human sin and need; stories of widowhood, incest, prostitution, lust, lying, murder, and adultery.
However, this perfectly obedient Son of David did for us what we could never do for ourselves! He redeemed us by living a perfect life and dying a sinner’s death – he is our propitiation and he saved his people from their sins.
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 ESV)
God promised to send someone who would stand in the gap on behalf of sinful humanity. After centuries of anticipation and waiting, God kept his promise. Jesus is the long-awaited hope. Because of His coming, and through faith in him we can be restored into a right relationship with God.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV)
Through the miraculous and unimaginable intervention of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit conceiving Christ in the womb of a virgin, salvation has come to this broken world. Jesus, God with us, Immanuel, came for the lost and least of this world.
Which of us do not feel the pain and shame of our past? Which of us do not mourn over those in our family tree who have lived broken lives? However, salvation comes to our sinful lives and breaks into our dysfunctional family tree when we turn our life and our mess over to Jesus. He alone can redeem and restore. God’s salvation sweeps across history and sweeps over us.
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV).
By grace, redemption has come to us. What can we do but tremble at his Word, marvel at his grace and boast in his Son!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross