Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It has become fashionable for people to doubt the Word of God. Historians who address themselves to the life and times of Jesus Christ are fond of talking about how Jesus was probably crucified for being revo¬lutionary. I read that comment in a review of the Movie about the passion of Christ. Jesus died by accident, they say, or He was caught in political forces He simply did not realize were there. He was crucified for being one who threatened the peace of Rome in Jerusalem, according to Peter Jennings. Modern Bi¬ble Scholars like to suggest that Jesus was not all that radically different theologically from the Jews of His day, but He got caught up in a rivalry between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Maybe He had some thoughts about some messianic mission, they might concede, but He did not understand what He was getting Himself into. The one thing they all agree on was that Jesus was crucified by mistake, or inadvertently, according to His plan of ministry.
The Bible teaches something entirely different. The picture of Jesus we have from Scriptures is of One who knew full well what He was doing, where He was going, and what He was getting Himself into. Jesus followed a plan. He expected precisely what He got. He could do that because it had all been prophesied. We celebrate no accident or unfortunate stumbling into misfortune by this Jesus of Nazareth. Although it was a gross and cruel miscarriage of human justice, it was according to the plan of God. Tonight we meditate on the Promised Pain of Jesus.
I chose our text for this evening as an example of the clarity of the promises in the Old Testament Scriptures. Certainly not everything Jesus endured was prophesied in this one text, I would need many others to bring every prophecy to bear, but this text shows that Jesus was not the innocent victim of the unex¬pected, or that He blindly wandered into misfortune at the hands of the twisted justice of mankind. He walked very deliberately into that perversion of human justice. He knew what was coming. The pain was promised in prophecy.
Jesus is the Servant spoken of by Isaiah. His assignment was to bear our sins on the cross and into death. He was assigned - and accepted - the "job" of dying in our place and thereby winning salvation for us. It was no acci¬dent that He was despised and hated by those who hated Him. It was what He came to be and what He came to do. He came to bear our sorrows and face our griefs.
"Like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." He came to be the One rejected by men. He was dealt with like One so hideous in de¬formity or so corrupt in behavior that we would look the other way when He walked by. Peter denied Him. The people of Jerusalem who had cried out Hosanna! on Palm Sunday stood silently by, looked the other way, when the priest and the leaders cried out for Barabbas instead of this innocent man.
We sometimes turn our heads from Him too. "They" call us 'strict', or 'narrow-minded', and we feel ashamed. They accuse us of being divisive and holding ourselves sepa¬rate because we stand faithful in doctrine and because refuse to prostitute the Sacrament, for example, by letting others in where they don't even really want to come, and we apologize, and we deny our faithfulness rather than bear their scorn. We hide our faces from Him when the truth becomes too painful to bear, and the price of faithfulness be¬comes more than we are willing to endure.
"He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows." That is what the crucifixion was about. Where do our heart¬aches and sorrows come from, if not from sin? We de¬sire what we know is not good for us. We weep over the loss of public morality, but we enjoy the same sor¬did entertainments everyone around us delights in. We decry the thinning attendance at church, but we justify every single time we skip church for something that we would rather do. We complain about the grievous con¬sequences of sin, but we cannot be bothered to disci¬pline ourselves and we will not endure the personal pain that putting to death the deeds of our bodies requires.
He had to do what was prophesied. We look at what He endured and we wax eloquent about how wrong the Jews were, and how unfaithful the disciples were, and how severe the justice of God was as He hung on the cross. "But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed."
God didn't do this to Him, we did. The Jews are not responsible, we are! It was our sins, sins we barely recognize and almost never feel badly about, that caused the nails to be pounded through His hands. It was the lies we can¬not live without. It was the pride that makes us so cruel to one another that weighed on His shoulders. It was that gossip - which we find so important, so wel¬come, so titillating - that crushed Him.
"All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." He bore our sins to the cross. He knew what He was getting Himself into. He did it deliberately.
Jesus had to volunteer. The transcript of the trial said that they had no real witnesses. He could have kept silent and walked free. He could have refuted their charges. Pilate knew that He had been accused only because the priest and leaders of the temple were jeal¬ous of Him and His popularity. Jesus knew what the Bible promised would happen, but He spoke only when that speaking led to the cross, and stayed silent when a word, any word, would have served to set Him free.
He knew what pain had been promised. The words are "whipped, beaten, pierced through, crushed, despised, rejected, smitten by God and afflicted, and forsaken." He could see the mocking that was to come. He knew that great thirst was coming. He saw the agony with such clarity that He told His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death," and when He wrestled in prayer, His sweat came as great drops of blood -- actu¬ally physically possible for anyone, but only under the most tremendous strain and anxiety.
Jesus didn't just stumble into court intrigue. He wasn't the unfortunate victim of the unexpected. He knew. "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth."
Most times when I preach the Law I also quickly reassure you with the forgiveness of your sins. But perhaps some of you have begun to think that your sins do not matter. We are forgiven, you say, we can do what ever we wish! But sin always matters! Look at the cross. "By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?"
Look at the words of this prophecy - "the Lord was pleased to crush Him." The goal of the whole thing was that we would be justified. Our sins were the cause. If you do not care about the cost, you cannot understand or appreciate the grace of God in forgiving you. If you really believed the tremendous price, how could you casually walk back into sin? The answer is that you could not! Genuine faith requires that you turn your back delib¬erately on sin and live filled with a purposefulness formed in the light of the reality of Golgotha. We are not required by Law, but by knowing and believing what Jesus did and knowing why and believing that it was for us! The "Christian life" looks different in each of us, because we are different people and we have different gifts from God - but we cannot be content in sin or non-committal about holiness. "Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many."
Faith requires that you know how deadly and seri¬ous your sins are. How else can you believe all that God tells you He has done. Faith requires that you un¬derstand the depth of the price paid, and the height of the love which brought Him to the cross. If you under¬stand the danger, and understand the surpassing price of redemption, it is not possible that you would be cas¬ual about walking in that same sin and danger again. True faith demands a true response of life.
So tonight we remind you again of the love of God. We hold before your eyes the truth of the cross. And I urge you to contemplate both your role in bringing this awful convergence of human injustice to be, which we call Good Friday, and the blessedness of faith because of all that Christ endured. Consider in silent reflection, in re¬pentance and thanksgiving. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was willing to deliberately endure the promised pain for you.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
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