Isaiah 52:1-53:12; Ephesians 5:10-33; Psalms 70:1-5; Proverbs 17:24-25
OT: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” …See, my servant will be successful; he will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were appalled at you — his appearance was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form did not resemble a human being — so he will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of him, for they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard. Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment, and who considered his fate? For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.” (Isaiah 52:7, 13-53:1-9 CSB)
This is probably the most well-known and most often quoted passage from the book of Isaiah – the description of the Suffering Servant. It is amazing how accurately this passage prophesied the plight and mission of God’s Messiah – even to the point of Christ dying a criminal’s death yet being buried with the rich. Encapsulated in this nearly 2,700 year-old prophecy (given some 700 years before Christ) is the gospel. God, through Isaiah spelled out so clearly what He was going to do. It is almost mind-boggling that so many in Christ’s day missed His coming because they did not remember or did not understand the Messiah’s mission.
The Messiah did not come like a hero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He came as someone who was not impressive at all. He did not come to vanquish the Roman Empire with a swing of His hammer. He came to break the bondage of sin and the power of the devil through willfully laying down His life. We are the ones that turned away from God and went our own way – but the Lord God placed our punishment on Him… and what a punishment it was. He was beaten beyond recognition to the point that no one could even stand to look at Him. He was whipped within a few inches of death, and then He was hoisted on an excruciatingly painful and torturous cross as He bled out to pay for our sins. What seemed like a humiliating and utter defeat was actually a triumphant victory. His piercing paid for our rebellious ways. His crushing removed our iniquities. His wounds brought about our healing. His punishment sealed our eternal peace. He was successful… and He is now highly exalted above every name. What good news that is! We now, as people saved by the Suffering Servant, have the privilege of bearing the good news of Christ’s victory to all who will hear. We are the ones who get to stand on the mountain top and bring good news of good things, proclaim peace and salvation, and declare that our God reigns!
NT: “Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:11-21 CSB)
So rich are the benefits that we have in Christ! So much has been done for us… all while we were still lost in our rebellion and enemies of God. Christ, because of His love for us, set aside His unbounded divinity to become an extremely limited man and died a horrible death – all so that we could be restored and reformed into God’s privileged children. Everything that we need to live a holy and righteous life full of the power and authority of heaven has been provided for us. What are we going to do with all that has been done for us? Can you imagine the sadness and ache it would bring to the Father’s heart if we threw all of that away in frivolous living – participating in the fruitless works of darkness, and catering to the whims and desires of our flesh.
Therefore, Paul charged that those who are in Christ should wake up… pay careful attention to how we walk and make the most of the time that we have been given here on earth. How do we do that? For starters, instead of participating in the works of darkness, we need to expose them through the light that fills our life. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we point condescending and condemning fingers at people – but that we live our lives so full of life and light that people are convicted for their shameful and selfish behavior. We don’t need to walk around blindly trying to figure out what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. We need to know what the will of the Lord is and walk in it. We don’t need to get drunk on the trappings of the world – we need to continually allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Instead of looking out for number one, we need to give ourselves to building up each other, reminding each other of the truth of who they are in Christ, and spurring them on to walk in His will and purposes. Instead of fighting for position and influence, we submit humbly to one another as we all work towards obeying and fulfilling God’s word, will and ways. If we do those things, we will not make Christ’s sacrifice a vain thing, but will live highly effective lives for the kingdom that lead people to the Lord and bring Him glory.
Prayer: Lord, words cannot express how thankful I am to You for all that You have done and provided for me. Because of Your great sacrifice that was born out of Your great love, I can live fully in the holy and righteous live that You have prepared for me and called me to. I don’t ever want to take Your sacrifice for granted and treat it as a vain thing. I desire to make the most of the years that You have given me on this earth to bring people to You and glory Your greatness. Help me do that as I seek to be filled always with Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.