My sermon notes from a Maundy Thursday service reflecting on Isaiah 53
When Jesus disciples wanted to try and understand explain the significance of Jesus death there was passage that they turned to more often than any other, that is Isaiah 53. That is probably because they knew from incidents like’s Jesus baptism that this was a crucial passage for Jesus in understand his mission.
The more I read Isaiah 53 the more incredible it becomes to me.
Just think about it
Hundreds of years before Jesus birth, Isaiah describes in detail his death
That Jesus would be
despised and rejected
pierced and crushed
That he would buried in a tomb borrowed from a rich man
But here is what some sense i find even more incredible.
As well as describing the WAY Jesus would die,
also explains WHY Jesus would die.
Isaiah doesn’t just describe the circumstances of Jesus death on the cross
he also explains
the significance of Jesus death on the Cross.
In essence what Isaiah says is that Jesus death,
is God’s answer,
God’s antidote to sin in our lives.
Isaiah describes the death of the Lord’s Servant
whom we know ultimately was Jesus
as a death which had a significance beyond himself.
Isaiah explains that this was a death which was in place of and behalf of others,
The Servant of the Lord didn’t die a meaningless, pointless, tragic death. He died FOR something,
Not is his own infirmities, sorrows, transgressions or iniquities, but OURS …. The word used here in hebrew for “for” carries with it the idea of it being on OUR BEHALF & IN OUR PLACE
LETS THINK FOR A MINUTE ABOUT HOW ISAIAH PICTURES THE PREDICAMENT WE HAVE BECAUSE OF SIN.
HE DESCRIBES US AS BOTH
sinners & sufferers
as people who
who have both sinned and been sinned against
villains and victims
We are transgressors …. we are people who have broken God’s laws
we have committed iniquities, we have at times done evil
and yet we are also
People who have experienced
We are sinner and sinned against
People who have caused God and other people sorrow
But have experienced sorrow because of the actions of others too
Isaiah goes on to shows that the answer to the impact OF sin on our lives
as people who are sinners and sinned against,
lies in the death of the Servant of the Lord, and of course as we have said already, living this side of Easter, we know that to be the Cross of Christ.
On the Cross Christ dealt with our penalty and power of sin in our lives
v5 HE WAS PIERCED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSION
HE WAS CRUSHED FOR OUR INEQUITIES
THE PUNISHMENT THAT BROUGHT US PEACE WAS UPON HIM
The word PEACE carries ideas of “Wholeness, restoration” in relation to God and others, its a one word summary of salvation.
In essence Isaiah is saying that the Servant of the Lord, took the punishment for our sin and so brought us peace with God. His death reconciled us to God.
Paul thinking about that concept when he was writing to the Corinthians put it like this
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”
In Holy Week as Christians we glory in the cross when other people find it grotesque
because we understand that on the Cross jesus died for us, us collectively as God’s people and individually.
We glory in the cross not because we are some sort of sadists who enjoy the idea of someone suffering but because we know that Jesus died to deal with the penalty and power of sin in our lives and so bring us back into a living relationship with God.
THAT’S HOW WE MOST OF OFTEN THINK ABOUT THE CROSS
and so we should
the cross is the only antidote there is for the penalty and power of sin in our lives
Isaiah shows us here that we are not just
HE ALSO SHOWS US THAT THE CROSS, JESUS DEATH, IS GOD’S ANSWER
To our problems as sinners
for the problems in our lives that come from being sufferers, people who have been hurt because of the sin of others.
I want us to focus on this second aspect of the Cross on what the cross means to us as sufferers
, as people who have been sinned against.
As people who know what it is to be hurt and to be made to suffer through the actions of other people.
SO WHAT DOES THE CROSS HAVE TO SAY TO US AS SUFFERERS?
1. God Understands Our Hurt Through Jesus Death
Isaiah describes the Servant of the Lord as
A “man of sorrows” and “familiar with suffering”
God’s Servant is described as someone who had experienced and understood what it is to go through suffering, to be deeply and painfully hurt by the sin of other people.
Specifically this passage in our post Easter understanding talks about Jesus suffering rejection and being despised.
I think l we understand this even more deeply than Isaiah did because we live this side of Easter, just think about how Jesus died and the way He suffered
Physically ….. Mel Gibson’s PASSION OF THE CHRIST … helped many of us understand just terribly Jesus suffered physically. He was beaten, whipped and then endured the excruciating pain of being crucified. Did you know that the word, excruciating actually comes from the Latin word CRUX, the word for the Cross? The word we use for the most intense form of pain we can experience is rooted the cross, there was no more painful way to die than how Jesus died. Its plain that Jesus was the victim of physical abuse
There is a sense in which Jesus was also sexually abuse, or at the very least sexually humiliated. He was stripped naked and humiliated by people who were abusing their power. He was hung up naked in front of his mother, closest female friends and complete strangers. I can only imagine the pain of that humiliation.
EMOTIONALLY …. Jesus experienced
Think about the way the people who should have loved Jesus treated him? Maundy Thursday has always been known as the “night on which Jesus was betrayed.
Judas who was part of his inner circle, betrayed Jesus with a kiss, an expression of love was turned into an act of betrayal. I am sure that Judas’s kiss hurt Jesus as much as the whips of the Romans
Later Jesus heard Peter who had said he would never leave him denying that he even knew him, that must of hurt.
As he hung on the cross only one of his disciples, his mother and some woman followers were there. Most His closest friends abandoned him when he needed them most.
Jesus must have suffered emotionally too when the crowds at his trial and then at crucifixion hurled abuse and hate at him. Whoever said that “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me” was wrong, utterly and completely wrong. Broken bones can heal but the wounds caused by hateful and hurtful words can leave us with wounds that never seem to heal.
UNJUSTLY …. Jesus suffered unjustly, he was convicted by a kangaroo court on false evidence and condemned to death by a judge who knew he was innocent. If that is not suffering injustice I don’t know what is.
No wonder Isaiah called him “a man of sorrows” and “familiar with suffering”
I SUSPECT THAT SOME, MAYBE ALL OF US TO A GREATER OR LESSER EXTENT
know what it is to be a “man or woman of sorrows”
“familiar with suffering”
I am pretty sure that some of us have suffered in the way Jesus did
Perhaps some of you have suffered through physical pain.
Maybe pain from a chronic illness?
perhaps the pain that comes from physical abuse?
Maybe you are familiar with suffering from being abused by a parent or partner?
and there may well be someone here tonight
who has suffered through being sexually humiliated
who has been abused by someone who had power them and knows the pain of being stripped naked against their will?
I am pretty sure that some of us have been abused verbally like Jesus. Have had to endure and carry with us the pain and hurt that comes from being the object of tirade of hurtful, hateful painful words
. And those words, replay in your mind bringing back that pain.
I suspect others of us know what it is to be rejected, abandoned or betrayed by someone we thought loved and cared for us?
Maybe it was a friend?
Maybe it was husband or wife?
Maybe it was a parent?
Maybe if was a fellow Christian?
But you have experienced sorrow because you thought they loved and cared for you
BUT A TIME CAME WHEN THEY
If you carry hurt with you in those ways
Perhaps hurt that has been with you for years
a hurt you think no one understand
THE CROSS TELLS YOU GOD UNDERSTANDS
Jesus experienced through the cross
the very pain and sorrow that has touched your life so deeply.
No one else might understand or even know
But Jesus does.
He understands sorrow and suffering in a way no one else does.
WE HAVE A GOD WHO SUFFERS ALONGSIDE US AND SO CAN UNDERSTAND US
When you come to the cross, you are not coming to a God who has insulated himself from your pain but one who understands it because he has experienced it
We can bring our hurts, our pain, our wounds and the sorrow and grief they bring to the cross and find understanding, find real empathy there.
Sometimes that’s what we need most, simply to know that someone understands what has happened to us and how painful it has been to us.
2. God CAN HEAL Our Hurt Through Jesus Death
Isaiah as we have pointed out describes Christ as being
V 3 a “man of sorrows” and “familiar with suffering”
so as we have just thought about He understands our hurts, our sorrows and suffering.
But Isaiah goes on to say about the Servant of the Lord
.v4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried
Can you see the significance of what Isaiah adds there to our understanding of Christ’s death?
Jesus doesn’t just understand our suffering because of the Cross.
Isaiah is telling us that he has done something about our suffering through the cross
He bears our grief
He carries our sorrow
ONE OT SCHOLAR EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF V4 LIKE THIS
“The meaning is not merely that the servant of God entered into the fellowship of our suffering but that he took upon himself the suffering which we had to bear and therefore not only took them away but bore them in his own person, that he might deliver us from them”
Jesus bore not just the penalty of our sin when he died but he also bore, he absorbed and dealt our pain caused by other people sin.
I am not sure I know how to explain that, I am not sure I want to, I just understand that Jesus in his death absorbed and drew the sting of hurt from our suffering. He bore our suffering and grief so we could be freed from it.
In the same way Jesus died to set us free from the
penalty of our sin
he also died
to set us free from the hurt of being sinned against
Some of us struggle for years with wounds, deep, deep wounds in our hearts, in our memories, far deeper than any scars we carry on our skin.
Wounds from being physically, emotionally, verbally abused.
If you feel those wounds raw and painful
I want to tell you that Jesus did something to take away the pain
ON THE CROSS
HE BORE YOUR GRIEF
CARRIED YOUR SORROWS
you don’t have to any longer
There is healing for your pain through the cross
“BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED”
God’s Word says the pain in your heart finds healing throughs the wounds of Christ
Jesus was wounded so that your wounds could be healed
THINK ABOUT THAT
Jesus allowed himself to be physically wounded and emotionally wounded so that your wounds could be healed
Song I came across in the States
I KNOW A PLACE, A WONDERFUL PLACE
WHERE ACCUSED AND CONDEMNED
FIND MERCY AND GRACE
WHERE THE WRONGS WE HAVE DONE
AND THE WRONGS DONE TO US
WERE NAILED THERE WITH HIM
THERE ON THE CROSS
AT THE CROSS
HE DIED FOR OUR SIN
AT THE CROSS
HE GAVE US LIFE AGAIN
If you have been hurt and wounded
If you have been carrying that pain with you
Can I say I know a place
A wonderful place
A place where you can find understanding and healing
That place is the cross of Christ
COME TO THE CROSS
BRING YOUR HURTS TO THE CROSS
I want to invite you
TO BRING YOUR WOUNDS TO THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
How do we do that? I think Steve Seamands points the way in a book called “Wounds That Heal” when he writes “The cross reveals that healing comes through embracing not avoiding the pain of our hurts, through forgiving not resenting those who have wronged us and through loving not hating those who have treated us as enemies”
We will experience the healing power of the cross when we follow Jesus in the way of the Cross. When we
Embrace the pain of our rather than avoiding it or denying it …. When we admit to ourselves, to others perhaps and to Christ how deeply and painfully we have been hurt
Forgive rather than resent …. unforgiveness is relational and spiritual poison, we will never experience healing until we can offer forgiveness because forgiveness releases us from the power the person who has hurt us has had over us.
Love don’t hate … the final stage is coming to the point that we can love in a Christian sense, seek and sacrifice for their best, harbour no malice or hatred.
I think our wounds are healed when we come to the cross and seek Christ’s help to do these things, to embody and express His attitude and actions to those who hurt him to those who have wounded us.
We can’t do this on our own, we need the Spirit’s power.
For some of us healing may come in an instant for others the journey towards healing will start.
But let’s not learn to live with our wounds, we were never meant to for Jesus allowed himself to wounded for our healing.