Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 (MEV)

1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before Him as a tender plant
and as a root out of a dry ground.
He has no form or majesty that we should look upon him
nor appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected of men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from him;
he was despised, and we did not esteem him.
4 Surely he has borne our grief
and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him,
and by his stripes we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray;
each of us has turned to his own way,
but the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away,
and who shall declare his generation?
For he was cut off out of the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was struck.

9 His grave was assigned with the wicked,
yet with the rich in his death,
because he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him;
He has put him to grief.
If he made himself as an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days,
and the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the anguish of his soul and be satisfied.
By his knowledge My righteous servant shall justify the many,
for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death,
and he was numbered with the transgressors,
thus he bore the sin of many
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Advertisements

Away from the crowds

The Crowds

How do you respond to the crowd? For some (usually extroverts) crowds can be an important part of recharging themselves. For others (usually introverts, which I am), crowds are okay, but then there is a need to withdraw. For such people, recharging comes away from the crowds.

As we look at Jesus’ ministry, we discover something interesting. He would withdraw from the crowds. But something more happened.

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, (Matt. 12:15)

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Matt. 14:13)

So despite Jesus withdrawing from the people the people would not withdraw from Him. Amazingly, Jesus continues to care for them, healing, teaching, comforting them.

Palm Sunday: The crowds

Palm Sunday in one way is the peak of Jesus’ popularity. The crowds greet His arrival in Jerusalem as the new king, much in anticipation of the new David, King. Matthew noted the Old Testament prophecy related to preparation for His entry into Jerusalem.

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
 Behold, your King comes to you, Humble, and riding on a donkey, On a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  (Matt. 21:5)

The actions and words of the crowd reflect this anticipation of someone great, like a new King.

A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road.  The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:8–9)

And the crowd begins to put the pieces together.

When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  The multitudes said, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:10-1)

Post Entry to Jerusalem

The attention to Jesus doesn’t end there. Jesus goes into the temple area and causes quite a stir.

Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money-changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!” (Matt. 21:12-13)

On the one hand, the Jewish leaders are very concerned about this agitation of their little kingdom. On the other hand, Jesus is very concerned about the agitation caused by changing and defiling the temple and God’s work through it. Not only that, but Jesus heals many in the crowds (Matt. 21:14-15).

Jesus continues His ministry to the crowds

In the rest of Matthew 21, we see Jesus continuing what He had been doing in previous years: teaching the people (crowds), healing them, while also confronting the Jewish leaders.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his illustrations, they knew that he was talking about them. They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowds, who thought he was a prophet. (Matt. 21:45–46)

The crowds still follow Him, listen to His teachings, and receive His healing gifts. Jesus is doing what His Father had sent Him to do.

His crowd ministry never stops

The reality is that Jesus came into this world —for the crowds, even the enemies within the crowds. While needs time to be alone with His disciples, he never fully withdraws from the people. He knows their concerns, their hurts, they challenges, and their brokenness.

He continues to live out His ministry in fulfillment of Psalm 34:17-18:

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.

So we see that Jesus has much to do. In the days following His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His crowd work will dramatically change focus on Maundy Thursday. He will begin the care for His followers of the future.

 

God made flesh

Some discussion abounds on the internet about whether Dec. 25 is the actual birth date of Jesus. We don’t know the actual date; Scripture does not tell us. If a Christian does not want to celebrate this day, that is okay. But if a Christian denies who was born in Bethlehem and the importance of that in the Christian faith, then that is not okay.imgres

In freedom, this day is set aside to remember the fact that God did take on human flesh, becoming human (incarnation). This is one of the mysteries of the Christian faith (along with the Trinity). The incarnation is a stumbling block for many. But it is part of the foundation of the Christian faith.

C.S. Lewis wrote on the Incarnation of Christ:

In the Incarnation God the Son takes the body and human soul of Jesus, and, through that, the whole environment of Nature, all the creaturely predicament, into His own being. So that “He came down from Heaven” can almost be transposed into ”Heaven drew earth up into it,” and locality, limitation, sleep, sweat, footsore weariness, frustration, pain, doubt, and death, are, from before all worlds, known by God from within. The pure light walks the earth; the darkness, received into the heart of Deity, is there swallowed up. Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?

Likewise, as Christians we are not called upon to prove the incarnation, nor can we. Rather, we take this opportunity to proclaim the birth of Jesus. So, let’s return to the text of Scripture and read/hear this once again. And rejoice with the angels, the shepherds, Mary, and Joseph. And then rejoice in how this fits into all of God’s plan for redeeming humans.

==============

 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising Goda for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  (Luke 2:1-20 NIV)

=====================================================================

The fact and importance of God taking on flesh appears throughout the New Testament.

============

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:philippians-2-5-11

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV)

=============

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV)

=============

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NIV)

=============

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, a fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV)

Christmas Greeting

Christmas is for

…the lonely, the broken, the forgotten.

This is a reminder that the pleasant Hallmark movie scenes don’t reflect the lives of most people. Tensions are not resolved in two hours. Relationships are strained or broken.

Over the next couple weeks the focus will be on Christmas for the non-spotlight people. Maybe you fit one of these categories. May the story of God’s love in sending his Son be your hope, light in the midst of darkness.

No one is beyond the reach of the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. That baby comes into a world filled with outsiders. Both mother and father were from Nazareth. As a later disciple sneered, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” With God, the answer is “Absolutely!”

An insignificant young woman

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38 NLT)

An unknown carpenter

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 NLT)

And then the smelly shepherds near Bethlehem. Not a very likely reception for the King. Yet each one received the news and presence of Jesus with humble joy. They had been waiting for God’s salvation, but they didn’t know when, how, who…only the promise that God’s salvation was near.

Stay tuned for more about who Christmas is about and who Christmas is for…

 

So who won?

If you look at web sites and TV shows regarding last night, you’d think that the coverage implied, no, demanded, that Miami won. Why? Well, look at the headline photos. So far, I have not found one that has Dallas [team members] highlighted. So what does that say? About sports, it is an interesting spectacle, whether you are a fan of Miami or Dallas. Confusing, perhaps to some.

But I suggest that this insight into the world of sports and media sheds light on the Church as well. Some Christian leaders gain all the headlines, on TV, on the web, whether for good or bad. Sometimes it would be hard to tell who is “winning” based on the media coverage.

In the Church, as outlined in the New Testament (and certainly foreshadowed in the Old Testament), the one who won is the one who lost, and the one who lost is the one who won. On Good Friday, it appeared from all the headlines that Satan had won, and Jesus lost. “We had such great expectations for him! He was only 33 years old, at the peak of his mission.” Yes, for all appearances, Satan came out ahead. But the quietness of Easter morning hid the greater reality: the one who lost (Jesus) had now won; the one who had won really had lost. Satan was defeated, even on Friday.

It took a while for that reality to settle in. In fact, the resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost (last Sunday) signal a change in history, in the entire universe. The old has passed away, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet, appearances suggest that the old has a strong hold on our present life. Sin still ravages lives, evil is the “new normal.” The one who does good is often penalized.

Despite what the headlines suggest about what is going on, Jesus Christ has still been reigning, sometimes hidden from our view, but reigning, nevertheless. The one who is in Christ (believes in him) lives in the momentary suffering, pain, and anguish of this life (Romans 8:23-24). But our lives are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3). The world may see our sorrows and think that they have won. Other Christians may see our agony and declare that “we don’t have enough faith.”

Well, like the Dallas Mavericks in basketball, we don’t read the headlines, we believe the reality. The Mavericks are champions in basketball. We don’t believe the pre-mature obituaries of the Christian faith. In Christ we have already received the promised victory at the end. There is not suspense. There is only waiting for the right time.

So congrats to the Mavericks. But even greater congrats to the pastor who leads his congregation day after day, sermon after sermon, baptism after baptism, and funeral after funeral. The victory is won, and he know it. Congrats to the Christian who has endured what seems to be “unfair suffering.” Despite the headline of suffering, their victory is secure in Christ.

Pentecost (the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2) ushers in the “last time” (Acts 2:17). For that final end we long, we wait eagerly, but we also live in the present, knowing that Jesus won the victory, he won it for us. And we won’t run to the center court to celebrate — we will be taken to heaven and exult in the heavenly court.

Hermeneutics tonight

Looking at the key theme: The Christocentricity of the Scriptures: The Kingdom of God and Biblical Eschatology as Key.

That means that we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. Thus, when Christ comes the first time he is the in-principle fulfillment of the Old Testament (breaking in from the future).

Christ Fulfills all the Old Testament in-principleThe attached file shows this (see James Voelz, What Does This Mean?, p. 251).

Even more it means that we understanding everything backward from its final eschatological fulfillment.

Interpreting from the Future

Pentecost – A lost Focus

This Sunday the Christian Church celebrates Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. This happens 10 days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The first reading for series C is Acts 2:1-21, which describes the activity of the Spirit and Peter’s introduction to what is happening.

Certainly the Holy Spirit’s work on that day is miraculous and a display of God’s power to overcome even the language barriers erected in Genesis 11. But what is lost sight of in this celebration is that this event inaugurates the end times. Peter begins in Acts 1:16-17:

Rather, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about:

‘In the last days, God says,

I will pour my Spirit on everyone.

The urgency of the first Pentecost was the recognition that “time was short!” Thus, proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer receives first priority in the lives and words of the disciples.

Have we lost that urgency? Perhaps we in the western world are more inclined to this malady; we move about as if there is no urgency in speaking about Jesus. What about you? Your congregation? Your church body?

As we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit this Sunday, let us also reclaim that end times urgency of proclaiming “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).