Life after death – what a concept!
Isaiah 53: Life, life, and more life.
Isaiah prophetically sees the Suffering Servant, the man born to die for the sins of the world. He also sees, maybe not with total clarity, life after death for the Messiah. From our common point of view following death there’s deterioration. Even as Isaiah describes the terrible destruction of the Suffering Servant, he finds himself talking about abundant life. Our understanding of what happened at, and after, Calvary isn’t superior to Isaiah’s but we do have a clearer knowledge of those events. Jesus goes to the cross and there suffers and dies for the sins of the human race. His lifeless body is then placed in a tomb. Then, early on Sunday morning, the after-death process is abruptly halted. Rather than deterioration, life, new life, springs forth. Resurrection! That’s reason enough for Isaiah to conclude his mourning over the death of the Messiah with a surprising “life oriented” twist. However, there’s even more. As the suffering and death of Jesus is for us, so is his resurrection. We have hope of spiritual and physical life beyond this world because of what happens at that tomb. At one point Jesus says that he came that we might have abundant life. That promise is made sure the first Easter morning. Isaiah’s vision of “life, life, and more life” not only tells the story of the Suffering Servant, it’s our story too.
Take Away: As the suffering and death of Jesus is for us, so is his resurrection.
God’s plan all along
Isaiah 53: Still, it’s what God had in mind all along.
The accuracy of Isaiah’s depiction of the Suffering Servant must have amazed the writers of the gospels. They wrote of something they had seen with their own eyes, yet their words mirror that which Isaiah saw only by faith hundreds of years earlier. However, Isaiah doesn’t only tell us of the sufferings of the Messiah. He tells us why it happened. God planned it. What happens at Calvary isn’t something that’s “done to Jesus.” Instead, it’s something that Jesus “does for us.” The Lord knew that we’d never just “get over” sin. He knew that the broken relationship between us and him was broken beyond that which could be repaired by some minor patch up job. There was only one hope of redemption and that hope was that the Son of God, the Suffering Servant, would carry our sins even to the grave. It’s what God had in mind all along.
Take Away: There was only one way to salvation and Jesus, through the cross, provided that way for all.
Being honest as I read God’s Word
Isaiah 53: Through his bruises we get healed.
Right off, let me say that I believe in divine healing. In fact, I think the Lord has provided physical healing for me. I also believe it is okay to read the Scriptures devotionally. That is, while I think I need to be careful about the context and intent of Scripture when studying, preaching, and teaching that it’s okay for me to read something and draw a more personal meaning out of it. I need to be careful when I do that because I can end up a long distance from where a passage is supposed to take me, but it can also be to my benefit to more freely explore the Word from a devotional point of view. That brings me to this passage. Isaiah is describing the Suffering Servant who will be Jesus. Specifically, he’s talking about how he’ll be abused for our sins. In poetic form he describes that abuse and how it will benefit us. The entire passage is about our salvation: Jesus is beaten to the point of disfigurement, ripped and torn and crushed and bruised for our salvation. When I get to the line about his being bruised for my healing I know that Isaiah hasn’t suddenly changed the subject from Christ suffering to save our souls to his suffering that I might be healed of my health problems. The “healing” he’s talking about is a healing of my broken relationship with God, not healing from cancer or heart problems or diabetes. With all that in mind, I need to remember to read this passage in light of what Isaiah is actually talking about and not want I want him to be talking about. Devotionally, I can connect this to passages like that in the Book of James in which we’re given instructions about praying for the healing of the sick. Realistically, though, I need to be honest in acknowledging that this passage doesn’t teach that Christ’s suffering was so I could be healed of physical infirmities.
Take Away: Christ suffered that our relationship with the Lord, broken by our sin, might be healed.