Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Believe It, People of God

Passover and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection will be here soon. We don’t mourn as a people who have no hope; we rejoice in this holy season. We celebrate freedom from slavery; we find joy in God’s provision of redemption for all people.

This season we’re reading through the last of four servant songs written by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, they give detailed prophecies of the coming Messiah. Prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus. We read the first stanza last week – Wake Up, City of God.

Hard to Believe

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1 NIV). Sometimes we hear things – especially in this day of internet-based information overload – that don’t really seem possible. Sometimes a little tidbit of news seems a little too far out there – a little hard to believe. 

Or, maybe the news doesn’t quite fit with how we think the situation should play out. We expect one outcome of events and yet things appear to have happened a different way.

Kind of like the news Isaiah is about to share with his fellow Jews. Will anyone believe this message? Will anyone realize they have beheld the power of God, poetically referred to as the arm of the Lord? After all, it’s kind of a hard message to accept that the Messiah would… could lower to… could humiliate Himself to … come as a man.

Four Aspects of Jesus’ Humanity

  • “He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2).

Since Jesus came as a man, He had to grow up. He lay in a manger as a baby and learned in the Temple as a boy. He grew to manhood.

But He also grew before God the Father – connected to Him as a sapling tree connects to the original tree. Yes, He was a man but He came from God and was God.

He grew before God the Father – miraculously as a root that grows out of dry earth. Yes, He was a man but He was a source of life in a spiritually dry, desolate environment.

  • “He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2).

His body, His clothes, and His appearance were normal. 

He didn’t have the physique of Thor or Superman. He didn’t dress or have gadgetry like Iron Man or Batman. He didn’t have an intimidating appearance like the Incredible Hulk. He was a man.

  • “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was” (Isaiah 53:3). 

His reputation was nothing special; He wasn’t immune from pain, sorrow, or suffering.

He didn’t focus on building a platform or deal with paparazzi. Most people who lived in the first century probably never even heard His name. He definitely didn’t break any retweet records.

He ached for His beloved city of Jerusalem, wanting to gather the people together under His protection (Luke 13:34). He wept over the death of a dear friend, Lazarus, and for the sisters who didn’t yet realize that only through Him was resurrection and life (John 11:35). He was troubled knowing that betrayal would come from a friend with whom He sat at the same table (John 13:21). In agony, He sweat drops of blood as His crucifixion drew near (Luke 22:44). He was a man.

  • “He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him” (Isaiah 53:3). 

He had no special charm and no celebrity status.

Celebrity status has taken over the American church. People love pastors and teachers for their charisma, charm, dynamic delivery, and impressive buildings. Many of us would excitedly jump at the opportunity to meet Billy Graham, Francis Chan, John MacArthur, John Piper, or __________ (fill in the blank with your favorite celebrity pastor). Usually (unfortunately not always), the pastor or teacher isn’t after the celebrity status; it's a by-product of our culture. We are drawn to them because of their charisma and charm. We lift them up; we highly esteem them.

Jesus had none of that. Nothing drew people to Him. Very few jumped at the chance to meet Him – usually only those hoping for a healing. Most turned away from Him. He wasn’t the Christian celebrity we know today full of charisma and charm. He was a man.

It’s kind of hard to believe, isn’t it? The Savior of the world, the awaited Messiah, wouldn’t supernaturally appear as a conquering hero. He wouldn’t come with beauty and majesty. He wouldn’t be overwhelmingly popular and loved by all.

But don’t worry, that day is coming. The Messiah came the first time as Isaiah’s prophesied Servant but a second coming awaits us in the future. At that time, He will supernaturally appear as the conquering hero. The whole world will behold His beauty, power, and majesty. The whole world will worship Him as King of Kings. Amen to that.

Read about the third stanza, Isaiah 53:4-6, by clicking here: Consider the Why, Rebels of God.

Read about the fourth stanza, Isaiah 53:7-9, by clicking here: Behold the Lamb, Children of God.

Read about the fifth stanza, Isaiah 53:10-12, by clicking here: Receive the Victory, Chosen of God

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