THE UNEXPECTED REVERSAL
His Death Gives Us Life
The Suffering-Servant Song:
Isaiah 53:7–9 (CSB)
7 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.
8 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.
Dear fellow redeemed: Isaiah doesn’t figure greatly in Jewish theology at the time of Christ. They tend to focus on more “heroic” passages like those emphasizing David’s everlasting kingdom. What were they supposed to do with sections like this that speak of trial and defeat?
As in our day, Paul dealt with a church looking for Glory and Big Things. But Paul teaches them that the Lord deals with us often through weak and little things. In his opening to his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27–31, CSB)
Mary sang of the mighty works of God: “His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has done a mighty deed with his arm; he has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; he has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:50–53, CSB)
The wise are confounded by the foolish, the insignificant becomes of the greatest importance in the world, those who have nothing to brag about stand in the presence of God. The virgin gives birth, the proud are humbled, the mighty are cast down, the lowly rule, the hungry have good things to eat, and the rich go hungry, the place of justice became a place of injustice and the Lord of all Truth was silent in the face of lies.
What could bring such a reversal about? How could God allow things to turn so upside-down and backwards?
His grace. His love for you and for all people, love that we don’t deserve.
Isaiah records the Spirit’s words describing the events of Christ’s passion. It is unlikely that Isaiah knew exactly what he was describing, though he knew that it was our atonement. Peter wrote, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:10–11, CSB)
But you know.
Jesus was oppressed by the leaders of the people. He was afflicted by their mocking, their dressing Him up as a king and hitting him. But He allowed himself to fall into their hands and helplessly as a lamb at the time of slaughter, or a sheep at sheering time – or the sacrificial lamb at Passover, as the lamb of God that took away the world’s sins.
He was taken away by the leaders of the people, who oppressed him with their power. The Jewish leaders railroaded Him through the Sanhedrin, the Roman Governor, Pilate, though declaring Him innocent decided it was better to torture Jesus to death than risk the political fallout.
And who cared? Surely any who did were powerless.
He was killed, “cut off from the land of the living,” because He gave up His life.
Why did such a terrible fate fall upon Him? Yahweh answers, “For the transgression of my people He was stricken;” “he was struck because of my people’s rebellion.”
You see, God wants you to live, to live with Him in perfect fellowship, to experience the essence of beauty, love, joy, peace, and every other good thing.
But we, His people, have transgressed. It was that transgression, that rebellion the Jesus took upon Himself, that God counted as His, and so He must die. It was unjust, unfair, completely sacrificial, and what He suffered was beyond the torment of any of the damned, as God the Father rejected God the Son.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, CSB)
His death is counted as your death. Through your baptism and by faith it is as though you died with Him, “This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him;” (2 Timothy 2:11, CSB)
He died that we may live.
The is real. This is as real and physical as is Christs death, and as is our death. The pagans deal in ghosts. We deal in the resurrection of the body. God the Son died and rose so that we sons of Adam and daughters of Eve will rise and live.
He died that we may live.