Good Friday 2016

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
13Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
14As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
53:1Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah writes these words that foreshadow the life and Passion of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Standing on this side of the Crucifixion we cannot help but marvel at his Spirit inspired accuracy. The picture Isaiah draws is perfection. The stunning thing about these words is that no one probably even began to imagine what God had in mind when He promised Adam and Eve that He would send Someone who would save them from the mess they had made and from the death that their sin demanded. Yes, they would physically die (which was actually pure grace) but it would not be an eternal death because the Father was going to send His Son to pay for the crime. But other than these words in Isaiah there is no way that anyone would have guessed the plan the Father had devised for our salvation. His Son would have to suffer horribly and die a painful death, separated from the Father Himself. The tragedy of it all could never have been conceived in the human mind.

Now we read these words and our imaginations are captured by the truth of it all. Jesus suffered in His physical body a death beyond description and yet Isaiah captures it. Jesus dies for one reason and one reason only – the sins of mankind; our iniquities, transgressions, guilt.

Reading these words has become a part of my Good Friday ritual. Every year I open my Bible to this passage and just let the words roll over my heart and mind. It was a hideous death that had to happen because the God who created me is made of pure love. He willingly went through all of this so that I might be bought back from the sin I so readily embrace. He was crushed for my stubborn, self-centered, pride-driven life that seeks to run away from God rather than toward Him. But the Spirit won’t allow that and He draws me back into reality with grace, mercy, and tenacity. Every time I read this passage, I am only grateful that God has done all of this for me rather than leaving me in my own filth like I deserve. Instead He has granted life, love, and an eternity with Him. I may not be worthy but I am so grateful.