Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53:2b-6  “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 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. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 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. 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.
I read this thought-provoking and humbling Easter article on the atoning work of Jesus Christ ... God’s unique Plan of Salvation through the Suffering Servant. Sin led to the exile from the Garden of Eden, so something would have to be done to restore their relationship to God. God would have to establish His kingdom—His blessed presence would have to break into history, removing the transgressions that kept His people from seeing His face and guaranteeing their heavenly citizenship forever.

Only by a sovereign work could this kingdom be established. In other words, God would have to do this work through the Messiah, a holy King who could atone for the sins of His people and establish them in righteousness. Isaiah told the exiles this would happen through the work of the Suffering Servant. This man could only be the Messiah. Indeed, the Suffering Servant is Israel, the ideal and perfect Israel—Jesus Christ.

This Servant “shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted”, an image of majesty and awe. Yet this exaltation does not occur in a manner that human beings would expect. The Servant is not lifted high because of some kind of outer beauty or evident regal stature, for He is “marred, beyond human semblance” and has “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him”. No, humiliation is the path for the Suffering Servant’s exaltation. Achieving exaltation through suffering is a strange thing indeed. It is foolishness in our way of doing things, but it is wisdom in God’s economy. We should never diminish the scandal or the godly power of the cross.

Rejoice in Christ, Brian

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