READ: Isaiah 52:13-54
BACKGROUND: This is one of my favorite sections of prophecy in the entire Bible as Isaiah describes the suffering servant, Jesus, and what his suffering will mean for the world. And chapter 54 is a beautiful piece of Hebrew poetry celebrating the salvation that comes through the servant. If you didn’t picture Jesus as you read this passage, go back and picture him – picture the cross – while rereading at least 53:4-12. We can live because the servant suffered.
THINK: My wife really loves decorating our house for Christmas and she likes it when our tree is completely covered with ornaments. We have all the traditional ones – brightly colored glass balls covered in glitter, candy canes, snowmen, & ornaments that spell out traditional Christmasy words like “Joy” and “Peace.” But one of my favorites says “Hope.”
Hope isn’t the most common word that gets thrown around at Christmas time, but I think that it is definitely the underlying theme. Before Jesus was born, the people of Israel hoped for the Messiah. They waited and watched and hoped for the one whom God had promised – the one who would come to save them.
Jesus was that one. He was God’s servant. And the salvation that he brought meant that he would have to suffer. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is a really emotional passage to read as you picture the scene that Isaiah is describing. It wouldn’t come about for another 700 years, but we, with the benefit of hindsight, can see exactly how this prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus was beaten, bruised, and nailed to a cross so that we could be sprinkled with his perfect blood and have all of our sins and iniquities wiped away. He was a guilt offering who bore the sins of many.
It is powerful, humbling, and overwhelming to think about. And as we consider the cross and what the Suffering Servant accomplished for us we must remember something: he is still the hope of the world. Just as the people of Israel hoped for the Messiah to come and save them before he came, we too are hopeful for his eventual return where he will set all things right. And we can live lives of incredible hope because we know what he accomplished for us. We know that we are forgiven and reconciled to God because he died for us! And that is a message of hope that a hopeless world is desperate for. Will you bring it to your world?
PRAY: If you have a couple of minutes, listen to the song By His Wounds which quotes Isaiah 53:5. Spend some time thinking about what it means to you to be healed by His wounds. Then spend some time praising God, and thanking him for the incredible salvation he has offered to you.