KMC – 17.10.2021
In this section of his writing, Isaiah is referring to the Suffering Servant who took the pain, grief and sorrows upon Himself, taking them from us and making them His own. Isaiah affirms that these things will take place but then goes on to tell his reader why. The prophet sees the Suffering Servant being pierced through for humanity’s sin but through His suffering, people will receive His ultimate healing – resurrection. Isaiah acknowledges that every person sins in their own way, without exception.
The Servant spoke no word in His own defence. This statement is repeated and serves to emphasise that He was not helpless but willingly gave Himself up in restitution for humankind’s sin. When Isaiah uses the words ‘cut off’, he indicates for the first time that the Servant would suffer a violent death and the just judgement of God. In spite of what humanity did to Him, the Messiah never sinned but remained Holy.
The prophet continues by saying this was both God’s plan and His victory. Nothing that happened originated from people nor satan. The Father was pleased, not by the suffering of the Son, but by the reconciling work of the cross. Spurgeon wrote that, even more than the physical suffering caused by Jesus’ time on the cross, Jesus felt the horror of sin as no one else could feel it for the sight of evil appalled Him much more than it did any human being.
But His death was not the end for the Servant lives on, as do His spiritual descendants. He will have no regrets. It was all worth it in the end for by coming to know Jesus as Saviour every person who acknowledges Him as Lord will be justified before God. The humiliation and suffering of Jesus result in Him receiving even greater glory. Jesus gave everything for humanity and those who believe share in His reward. Even today, Jesus intercedes for His people
Scholars are uncertain who wrote this Psalm but possibilities include Moses (because of its similarity to Psalm 90); or David (with similarities to Psalms 27 and 31). This passage repeats the promise of deliverance and the assurance of victory that has already been given to those who trust in God. Security and safety are promised even in times of plague. This is not an absolute promise as can be seen by recent events due to Covid, but a general statement of God’s protection, comfort and care of those who follow Him. God gives His angels the charge to protect us and it is to Him alone that we give our praise for the protection He provides through His angel bands. Spurgeon says: “Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.” Satan twisted these words when He tempted Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). This promise of protection reveals those who belong to God as victors, not mere survivors.
Verses 14-16 are spoken to the people of God (rather than by them). God gives promises and blessings to those who have chosen to love Him. O.ne again the promises are repeated, but this time by God Himself. God will offer protection and place those He loves out of the reach of those who would harm them because of their love for Him. God promises to answer their prayers and to b less them when they call on Him and who know Him.
God appointed the high priest in the time of Moses (Exodus 28 on). The man holding this office offered both gifts and sacrifices to make amends for the sins of the people and give thanks to God on the people’s behalf. The high priest, being human, was intended to be compassionate as he experienced and understood the failings of others. Part of his official dress was a breastplate and shoulder straps each set with twelve stones bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; so the people of Israel were always on the heart and shoulders of the high priest. Various rituals were established by God to remind the high priest he was one of the people and he was chosen by God to serve them. The post was hereditary and was held by descendants of Levi, Abraham’s great-grandsons. Aaron was the first person to hold this office and the line passed down from eldest son to eldest son.
The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the High Priest. (His position is given capital letters whilst it is not when applied to human high priests, emphasising the uniqueness of His role). Jesus was not descended from the tribe of Levi nor did He undertake any of the ritual practices of the traditional high priests. By the time of Jesus, the position of the priesthood was corrupted. No other high priest held the role for ever. Only Jesus holds this office eternally. (See Hebrews 7 for more).
Jesus knew what it was to suffer as the hours He spent in Gethsemane, in the hands of the Jewish leaders, in the Roman palace and the time on the cross attest. He had learned and experienced being obedient during His time and suffering on earth and He had obeyed and followed the Father’s plan even though it was not easy to do so. His suffering, death and resurrection made Him the Saviour of every person who obeys and believes in Him.
We can imagine the scene: the disciples discussing who would be the greatest in Jesus’ new kingdom and these two brothers egging one another on to ask Jesus to grant them a favour. Neither they nor any of the disciples had any idea what awaited Jesus on His arrival in Jerusalem. So they asked Him to grant them positions of high status when He achieved His glory. The highest position was that on the right of the person in power; the second highest was the position on the left.
Now they came to Jesus, certain they would hold these high positions and asked their favour. In spite of all Jesus had taught them they still had no idea what they were asking Him. Jesus asked them if they could drink from the same cup of suffering He would drink from. Both brothers answered they could and when Jesus confirmed they would do so, we can imagine both men smiling, thinking they had gained points over the other disciples (who were not at all happy about this situation). However, both did, indeed, drink from the cup of suffering as Jesus said they would. James was the first to be martyred (Acts 12:1-2) and whilst John was not martyred, respected church tradition has it that he survived immersion in a vat of boiling oil.
God’s kingdom economy turns the ways of the world on their head. To be great, Jesus teaches them now, is to serve in humility, just as Jesus, Himself, served people. Great people serve, not for what they can get from their service, but from what they can give. Jesus Himself would pay the ultimate price for the salvation of His people.
Points to Ponder:
• Isaiah speaks of the horror of the cross and the even greater horror of our sin in the eyes of God. What
does the cross really mean to you personally?
• How do you reconcile the fact that whilst your sin sent Jesus to the cross, He still intercedes for you
• Psalm 91 assures us of security, protection, comfort etc. How have you experienced the promises made in
this Psalm in the last few months?
• How would you respond to someone who said to you that they struggle with this Psalm because their loved one
died of Covid or this or that bad thing happened in their life?
• What do you feel about the times when God seemingly did not protect, comfort or care for you or your loved
• What would you like to ask God about these things specifically today?
• Jesus’ role as the High Priest differs from that of any other minister within His church. How do these
differences encourage you to pray for your own minister and anyone else in leadership within the church?
• How do you feel when you pray for something and God answers ‘yes’; ‘no’; or ‘wait’? What example can you
give personally that proves God’s answer was the right one?
• ‘God’s economy turns the ways of the world on their head’. What evidence of this have you experienced in
your faith walk with Jesus?
• How does this knowledge help you to make decisions that seem to go against the way of the world – or
against God’s way?