Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Kind of a Messiah Was Jesus?

Readings for the Day
Isaiah 53-56, 2 Peter 2

Verses for the Day
Isaiah 53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Thoughts for the Day
These verses in Isaiah, written some 6oo years before Jesus came, are some of the clearest prophetic verses regarding Jesus, the coming Messiah. The expectation of the Messiah was for a powerful man, who would destroy Israel's enemies. He would bring Israel back into power, like they were at the height of their influence under King David. This was the same kingly line from which the Messiah would come. But as we read these verses from the prophet Isaiah, we see a different kind of Messiah. Much different!

Rather than a military general, the prophet gives a picture of a humble, suffering servant. He wasn't the most popular or best looking man, which led to his rejection by all humankind. Not only did he not promote violence and inflicting suffering on Israel's enemies, he took on their suffering. Instead of punishing others, he took on the punishment others deserved. Israel's true enemy was their own sin. They had rejected their own God and worshipped other gods. God had punished them through both the Assyrians and the Babylonians and led them into captivity as the prophet speaks.

But now God was going to give them a new freedom, that only the real Messiah would bring. As Mark 10 says, "Jesus came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for others." Jesus turned the world upside down when he demonstrated that true greatness come not from power and control, but by giving up power and control and becoming a servant. Importantly Isaiah ends by saying, "we all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Instead of putting the problem out there, Isaiah says we all have a common enemy, our own sinful nature. Our own tendency to wander away from the shepherd. We all want to live life on our terms, not the terms God has given us. That is what the Israelites had done by walking away from their God, who had led them out of slavery and through the Red Sea. But as we saw there as well, they quickly went back to false gods, as a dog returns to his vomit.

If we are honest, we all stray from God and Jesus on a regular basis. We turn own way and serve ourselves not others. But fortunately we have been saved by a Messiah, who has been bruised for our inquity. Not because we deserved it, but because He showed us we are worthy. By his wounds we are healed. So if this is the true nature of our Messiah, as a suffering servant, how then shall we live? How can we show the world what a true follower of Jesus looks like?

Do you think it might have something to do with being a servant? Do you think a Christ follower might care more about serving others than serving themselves? Do you think they might consider other's interests as greater than their own? I think you know the answers to those questions. Join me as we look to live our lives following our true Messiah, who showed us true greatness by emptying himself and becoming a servant even unto death on a cross.

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