“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All 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.”Isaiah 53:4-6
As Jesus suffered at the hands of the religious Jews and Romans, there appeared no miraculous intervention from God. No angelic army rushed to secure His deliverance. In fact, no immediate sign whatsoever was given by God that He had any concern over what was happening with this man who had claimed such an intimate connection with the Almighty. Something they fully expected would happen if he truly was the awaited One.
Because God didn’t rescue him, they foolishly took this as confirmation that not only was he not what he claimed to be – God’s Son – but that God Himself had stricken him and afflicted him by their hands, as a result of his blasphemy. And their assertion that God was behind the sufferings of Jesus is confirmed to be true by God’s own word. But their misguided allegations couldn’t be further from the truth.
Rather, He was wounded for our transgressions. He was afflicted for our well-being. He did not suffer to gain position with God for himself, but to bring us peace with God. He did not seek healing for his own body and soul, but to bring spiritual wholeness and life to us. And them.
Nevertheless, their jealousy and hatred made them blind to any sign that might point toward him as the true Messiah of Israel. Caesar was their king now, and they had no interest in welcoming any other. Their bondage to Rome placed them in a unique position of religious power over the people; albeit only for the purpose of expending less effort by the Roman army to maintain control of the masses. Yet, time and position had created a growing lust for preeminence. And the hope of a savior was no more than an unwanted intrusion upon their delusory empire. And they would not allow anyone to threaten this balance; not even God.
So entrenched was their pride and greed that no amount of evidence in support of Jesus’ true identity would sway them. In fact, the most convincing proof of Jesus’ relationship to the Father was displayed for all to see in His death alone. Matthew 27:45-54 tells us,
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.Matthew 27:45-54
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
But even these things (not to mention the reports from the Roman guards of His resurrection) were met with disdain and concealment; because theirs was not a matter of disbelief, but of indifference and contempt. Hence, Jesus’ condemnation toward them; because He knew what was in their hardened and evil hearts.
And don’t we see this in our world today? There are those that refuse to believe no matter the evidence presented. The drive for preservation of independence and way of life causes all warnings of judgment to fall on deaf ears. The here and now is what matters. It can all be so overwhelming.
That’s why it is essential in these days that we make time to refresh our souls in God’s presence, in His word, and with His people. A weary and war-torn Christian is a prime target for attack on the heart and mind. If Jesus needed to get away for times of refreshing, how much more so should we? So, let’s draw near to God – that He may draw near to us – and grant us peace, strength, and encouragement to continue doing good and speaking the truth of His word until He comes!
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.Psalm 100
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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