Scripture: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Key verse: (53:4) “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.”
Reflection: Today’s scripture is part of a section in the book of Isaiah that are called the Servant Songs which are songs of thanksgiving for the one who serves God. Traditionally, the Christian church has identified this Servant as Jesus Christ. However, Jesus isn’t the only servant that we find in the biblical text or even the Servant that the prophet Isaiah was pointing to. While we back read the Isaiah text, it is important to remember that there were other servants who followed the will of God and suffered for it in the history of Israel. When we read the books of the prophets in the Bible, we quickly discover that to stand for God’s vision of love and healing can lead to rejection and suffering. Over and over again, the prophets called people to return to God, remember who they belonged to and how God wanted them to live. These prophets were routinely subjected to the suffering that Jesus would eventually experience. In the Old Testament, the Servant could be a person, a community or even a nation who was being used for God’s purposes. Jesus was one of many of God’s servants who were despised and struck down. Yet, he was the true Messiah who would eventually bring redemption – not by power or force – but by exercising God’s love, justice and compassion, to the world. When he had the opportunity to fight back – he didn’t. He was silent, like a lamb, led to the slaughter. The words used to describe the Servant in Isaiah, are hard. Who wanted to imagine that the will of the LORD was to crush him in pain? But, isn’t that what happens when the powers of the world are challenged? The Servant bore the pain for many, making him great and powerful in a different kind of way. Speaking the truth to power has consequences which are rarely good in the short run. But, in the long run the Servant described in this passage gives us hope in the same way that he gave hope to the original hearers. We are not alone in our suffering when we are instruments of God’s power. The servant, Jesus Christ, will bear our infirmities, carry our diseases, feel our oppression, and pour his life into ours. He will even suffer the consequences of our sin in order that we might find redemption and experience God’s life changing love. Jesus continues to invite us to give ourselves fully to God’s purposes. Remembering all that he has done for us offers hope along the way as we seek to live out our faith.
Prayer: Lord of all, we give thanks for our Messiah, Jesus Christ who came and lived among us. He knows our joys and sorrows, and our victories and defeats. He died our death and is no stranger to suffering. Help us to walk in his ways, facing life’s challenges as servants of God, knowing that you are with us as we offer your life giving love to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].