Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – The Lord’s Servant

Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12

You can’t read these words and not be touched by some emotion. This is especially true when we let our minds fully imagine how this prophecy played out in Jesus’ final hours. Just as God orchestrated Israel’s fall to Assyria and Judah’s fall to Babylon, he sent his own son to die for us. God’s plan has always been full of purpose and intention. As mere humans, we are not always capable of understanding.

As I read this passage, I also try to envision what those first hearing the words must have thought. It’s easy for us to look back and see how well the descriptions fit with what we know happened. I understand that some of the imagery might bear resemblance to other heroes of the faith, like Ezekiel or Jeremiah. In what ways was this message helpful to those living in captivity?

One Interpretation commentary I read by Paul D. Hanson suggests, “Isaiah 53 is Second Isaiah’s contribution to this spiritual quest for an answer to the question of how the tragic pattern of sin and punishment could be broken and replaced by the wholeness that accompanies a hearty embrace of God’s compassion and righteousness. It revolves around the notion of a Servant of the Lord whose surrender to God’s will was so total that he took the consequences of the sin of the community upon himself, even though he was innocent of any wrong.”

Did the people in captivity understand why they were there? Did they see that their suffering was a series of teachable moments given to them by God? For generations, this pattern had played out. God always, in the end, comes to our rescue. When we expect to be rescued and don’t see an end in sight, it can be very discouraging. Jesus is our saving grace.

We are all sinners. None of us are immune to sin. Sometimes we sin and don’t even realize it. Just because Jesus took on our sins doesn’t mean we are free to act as we please. Evil is still alive and well causing us to sin. Our sins are what separates us from God. I don’t want to be separated from God. Sometimes I imagine that my sinful behavior is a slap in Jesus’ face, as if I don’t appreciate what he did for me. We simply should be mindful of our actions and how pleasing they are to God.

God knew full well that we would fail. His solution was extremely bold. “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” What Jesus has done for us has made it possible for us to be right with God. Jesus has pled our case and represents us out of love.

This is a good passage to return to regularly to keep in mind exactly how much you are loved. So much of what we do is fueled by emotion. It’s helpful when we can ignite some passion or emotion in terms of our faith journey.  Being grounded in faith and trust is always a good place to start. The distractions of the world make it all too easy to turn our backs on God.

Instead, it does us good to be startled and amazed by God. Take some time today to look at the creation around you, including your own body. Every detail is so intricate! The same God who created the world and everything in it…loves you. Deeply. How do you respond?

Let’s pray … Lord, as I reflect on this passage and visualize the agony you went through for me, I simply weep. It moves me to my core, and I feel so undeserving. You have created me for your purpose, and I pray you will help me become the person you intend. Forgive me when I stray and feel weak. Increase my boldness as I stand firm in my faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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