Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jesus: Our Suffering Servant

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; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  ~Isaiah 53:4,5
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. ~Isaiah 52:13

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, tells us of His Servant whom He will send to redeem His people. This Servant will be high and lifted up, He shall be exalted! However, He will not be high and lifted up in the usual sense, what God means is that this Servant will be above others because He has been crucified and lifted up high on a cross. He will be a Suffering Servant.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. ~Matthew 16:21

This past Sunday Pastor shared another “Name Above All Names.” Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is also known as the “Suffering Servant.” In the book of Isaiah there are a number of passages that speak of the coming Messiah, but none so clearly and revealing as the passage Pastor shared with us before Communion. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is so clearly a description of the Lord Jesus and what He came to do that the enemies of Christianity have attacked the plain meaning of these beautiful words and have chosen to ignore what and Who God is revealing here. Pastor gave us five characteristics of the “Suffering Servant” from this passage. The “Suffering Servant” was:
  1. Shocking (Isaiah 52:14) – What the Jews were looking for didn't match up with what they got.
  2. Scorned (Isaiah 53:1-3) – Jesus was rejected by His people, but valued by God.
  3. Substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6) – He who know no sin would become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  4. Silent (Isaiah 53:7-9) – Jesus did not defend Himself or lash out in anger.
  5. Selfless Sovereign (Isaiah 53:10-12) – It was God’s will to crush a willing Servant.
Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? ~Isaiah 53:1

In one of the most beloved Messianic chapters of the Bible, the prophet Isaiah begins by asking two questions. If the remaining eleven verses of chapter fifty-three are to make any sense, you must be able to answer them both in the affirmative. His first question asks if anyone believes or understands the message that he has been bringing from God. It was a message of judgment and redemption, a message of justice and deliverance, and a message of wrath and hope. Isaiah had been telling the people that God will judge sinful, evil, and immoral living. His second question asks if we know Jesus.

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. ~Isaiah 59:16

The basic theme of Isaiah's message can actually be found in the meaning of his own name, which means “Salvation is of the Lord.” God knew no human being would be able to deliver His creation from the bondage of sin and death, so He would have to do it Himself. God Almighty would come into this world as a man and redeem what He had created. Only the holy righteousness of God would be able to sustain the battle against sin and corruption. For some the second question remains unanswered. To whom is the Arm, or Messiah of God revealed? Not even the Jews themselves recognize this passage as messianic. Why?

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” ~Romans 3:10,11

Paul, quoting from the psalms to the Church at Rome, explains why man does not understand who the “Suffering Servant” is. Because of our unrighteousness, we do not seek the truth and none of us can understand who the Servant is on our own; if left to our own desires none of us would even seek after God. Yes, we have a will, but it is chained by our sin nature and on our own we always choose to disobey God and rebel against Him. So then, God must come into this world to save us and He must reveal His Arm to us as well. Has the Arm of the Lord been revealed to your heart? If you can understand the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, then God Himself has been speaking to you. It is the Spirit of God who brings revelation of the Servant and it is His Spirit who draws us to Jesus.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. ~John 6:44

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