Man of Sorrows…

Isaiah 53:3-4 (NIV)

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.

Our Verse of the Day comes from a portion of the messianic prophecy captured in Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah.  As our Celebration of the Resurrection approaches, I think it is a good idea for us to revisit this prophetic description of Yeshua Hamashiach and to reflect on the suffering He would endure for our rebellion and transgressions (the sins of the whole world) against God:

Isaiah 53:1-12 (NIV)

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. 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 (saved). 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. 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. By oppression (arrest) and judgment He was taken away. Yet who of His generation considered that He was cut off from the land of the living; that for the transgression of my people He was punished? 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. 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. After He has suffered, He will see the light of life (the fruit of His suffering) and will be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Approximately 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Isaiah gave this prophetic word. The accuracy of his portrayal of the Messiah (Savior) to come is astounding; and to me, it instills an even greater measure of faith in the reliability of the identity of Jesus and His claim to be the Son of God. Jesus would affirm His suffering, death, and resurrection as the authentication of His divine nature; His role in the plan of salvation; and His sovereign authority over all people.  Oh, how I wish all people would receive this understanding….  Jesus is the Messiah!  He is the Savior! Yes, He is Lord!  As Paul confirmed: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Cf. Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 14:11; Isaiah 45:23)

So, I have a thought to share today because people often question why a loving God would send His own Son to be sacrificed for the transgressions and iniquities of people. Why would God require a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin? Well, I think we forget, at times, just how serious sin is in the presence of a perfectly holy God. The Bible reveals that it was God’s plan to enjoy fellowship with His creation for eternity; and I believe that He ultimately will. However, when man sinned against God, an irreversible offense occurred in the sight of God. Such a serious affront to Him, His Love, and His Holiness required an equally serious resolution. Scripture reveals that in the mind of God, the resolution required that an unblemished lamb would have to be offered as a sacrifice for atonement to be effectuated. However, for the eternal atonement of man, a completely sinless man would have to shed His blood for a completely sinful mankind. In His love, God provided His own sacrifice – His own unblemished lamb for our atonement. Through the crucifixion of Jesus, His Son, He “eternal redemption” was obtained for us. (Cf. Hebrews 9:12)

Rather than question God on why He would be moved to the extreme of a crucifixion to commute His execution of our death sentence; I believe we should instead place our focus on the serious, fatal nature of sin itself. The Apostle James asserted in James 1:13-15: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” And as Paul explained: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.” (Cf. Romans 6:23) Indeed, we need to ultimately understand that our sin nailed Jesus to the cross – not Roman soldiers. It was truly our sinfulness that led to His death; and it was a compassionate act of love on His part to submit to His own unmerited slaughter. The harshness and cruelty should wake us up and alert us to how God truly feels about our disobedience and rebellion!

And so, as we enter the upcoming week of the passion and reflect on the events that took place, I pray that we will look inwardly and examine ourselves. I pray we will consider what Paul admonished with regard to sin in our lives:

Romans 6:1-14 (NIV)

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ~ Hebrews 12-1-3

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