Thursday, March 29, 2012

A song for all us lost sheep

"Christ, Savior of Mankind" - Unknown Flemish master, 1590s, Alabaster.
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

TO CHEW ON: "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 53:6

Our reading today is the final Servant Song. I don't think there's any doubt about who the Servant in it is; it's obviously Jesus. My Bible's notes say about this grand passage:
"It is one of the greatest passages in the Bible, the mountain peak of Isaiah's book; the most sublime messianic prophecy in the O.T. relating to so may features of Jesus' redemptive work" - Nathaniel M. Van Cleave New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 936.
In it we see a multitude of prophecies:
  • Jesus' incarnation and early life: "He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant ... a root out of dry ground" - Isaiah 53:2.
  • His rejection: "He is despised and rejected... He was despised and we did not esteem Him" - Isaiah 53:3.
  • His suffering: "His visage was marred more any any man .... He was wounded ... He was bruised...", He suffered "chastisement" and "stripes" - Isaiah 52:14; 53:4-5.
  • His death: "He was cut off from the land of the living... they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death" - Isaiah 53:8-9.
  • His triumph and exaltation: "He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high .... Kings shall shut their mouths at Him .... Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong" - Isaiah 52:13,15; 53:11-12.

    Significant is Isaiah's explanation of how Jesus will be the substitute lamb—that sacrifice for sin that will appease a holy God (Isaiah 53:4-6). I love how he makes it personal, implicating even himself in this unthinkable action:

    "All we like sheep have god astray, we have turned every one to his own way and the He has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

    And that is, finally, the personal message of Jesus' passion for each one of us. He didn't die because of some theoretical idea. His death wasn't to restore a blurry mass of people. It was an "offering for sin" for me and you because we "turned to our own way" and are full of "iniquity" and have no merit of our own on which to approach God.

    All these thousands of years later, this Servant Song still has significance and application to each one of us on the most personal level. Jesus still invites us to come to Him and promises that God will accept us on the merit of His (Jesus') life, death and resurrection. Hear Him say it Himself, using the imagery of sheep and shepherds:

    "I am the door of the sheep ... I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture .... I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly" - John 10:7-10.

    PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You that You who had no sin became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Help me to forsake sin every conscious moment and to live the life of rich abundance You promise. Amen.

    MORE: Prophecies fulfilled

    Did the prophecies of Isaiah's come true? Indeed they did. A handy table in my Bible details the prophecies in today's reading with their fulfillment:

    - He will be exalted - Isaiah 52:13
    Fulfilled - Philippians 2:9

    - He will be disfigured by suffering - Isaiah 52:14; 53:2
    Fulfilled: Mark 15:17,19

    - He will be widely rejected - Isaiah 53:1,3
    Fulfilled - John 12:37-38

    - He will bear our sins and sorrows - Isaiah 53:4
    Fulfilled - Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24-25

    - He will make a blood atonement - Isaiah 53:6
    Fulfilled - Romans 3:25

    - He will be our substitute - Isaiah 53:6,8
    Fulfilled - 2 Corinthians 5:21

    - He will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishment - Isaiah 53:7
    Fulfilled - John 10:11

    - He will be buried in a rich man's tomb - Isaiah 53:9
    Fulfilled - John 19:38-42

    - He will justify many from their sin - Isaiah 53:10-11
    Fulfilled - Romans 5:15-19

    - He will die with transgressors - Isaiah 53:12
    Fulfilled - Mark 15:27; Luke 22:37

    - From "The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:12)" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 937.

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