Lent 2022 Day 33
Fri 8 Apr
Isaiah 53:3-11 Big prophecies – the Messiah
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Can you read this passage from the book of Isaiah, and not connect it to the suffering of Jesus? These are prophetic words, written a very long time before Jesus was born. Those who know and love Handel’s Messiah will see more than one chorus contained in the text above.
There is much that points to Jesus, sometimes poetic, and sometimes more literal. Jesus was certainly crucified amid two thieves – was this assigning him to a grave with the wicked, but he was laid in a rich man’s tomb.
It may help if you were to turn the words around a bit. It is very easy to look at Jesus’ death as something that happened a long time ago. We all came along some time after, so were not witnesses to it. But we are all witnesses, because Jesus’ death was Father God’s loving gift to me and you. Jesus was despised and rejected by me; I hid my face from him; he took my pain and he bore my suffering; he was pierced with rough nails through hands and feet for my transgressions. I was very much there, and my name was among those who put him to death, for I was subject to sin before I came to know Jesus Christ as my Saviour.
I’d like to pick up on the phrase at the end of verse 5: and by his wounds we are healed (or, by his stripes we are healed, a more visceral translation in the AV). What do you make of these words? Are they figurative, and point to sin forgiven through Jesus’ death, Or could they be taken more literally, and be saying that there is healing because of Jesus’ suffering and death. Could I claim these words as a promise that I can claim healing, physical, mental and spiritual, from Jesus?
It was also the passage that the Ethiopian official was trying to make sense of as he was travelling from Jerusalem to Gaza. God sent Philip to meet him (Acts 8:26-40) on the way.
Can you recite verses 3 to 6 in the personalised form I started above?
How would you explain to the Ethiopian official or anyone else the Good News, using this passage as a starting point?
Father God, you sent Jesus to die for me. I can only understand how you loved the world so much that you gave your only-begotten Son, when I say that you loved me so much that you gave me Jesus. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Jesus.