Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Suffering Servant

There are some folks who will read Isaiah 53 and say it has nothing to do with Biblical prophecy concerning Jesus.  I first ran into them during my seminary days.  But, they are not just found in the dusty academic corridors where "what might be" and "what if" seems to be more important than "what is."  While some say it is simply a reference to an individual during Isaiah's time or the nation of Israel, it is hard not to see numerous images of Jesus within its verses.  The language is simply too specific for many to reach any other conclusion.   Put me in that category. 

Reading and meditating on Isaiah 53 is a good thing to do as a way of doing the heart preparation for Christmas.  It reveals a picture of Christ long before we knew Him as the baby of Bethlehem.  It reveals a picture known only to the heart and mind and purpose of the Father God who had a vision for what was to come.  When we read it there are such powerful images.  ""He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity....He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the punishment that made us whole...He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter...By a perversion of justice He was taken away..."  It is amazing that the prophet Isaiah was so inspired by the Holy Spirit that He was able to catch this glimpse of what God was planning for humankind.

The One whose birth we are preparing to celebrate is this One described centuries before the trip to Bethlehem.  Let us never get so swept away by the sweetness of the nativity scene filled with new parents and a newly born baby that we forget that this child was no ordinary child.  Certainly, He was fully human as is any child, but He was also the One chosen by God to bring radical change to the world and to deliver folks like you and me from our sins.  But, it was costly work.  Reading Isaiah 53 helps us remember the child born in the animal's wooden feed trough died on a rough wooden cross for you and for me.

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