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March 28

13 See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. 14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals—15 so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. Isaiah 52:13-15

The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, has been called the “Old Testament evangelist,” and “the fifth gospel,” because he so accurately foretells the cross of Christ. Ancient rabbis and Jewish commentators understood today’s text from Isaiah as a prophecy regarding the Messiah. The New Testament also understood this passage as foretelling the cross of Jesus, the Messiah.

In the text, Isaiah wants to fix our attention on God’ Suffering Servant as the one who will accomplish salvation: “See my servant,” he begins. Then, Isaiah notes that the servant will “prosper” in his mission, he will perfectly accomplish God’s saving work for us.

Many Bible scholars see in the three verbs of verse 1 a hint of the three stages in the exaltation of Christ following his cross: “exalted,” “lifted up,” and “very high.” Here in these three verbs is Jesus in his resurrection — ascension — and enthronement at the right hand of God.

But before God’s servant enters into glory he will first suffer so greatly that onlookers will be “astonished.” Isaiah says that when people look upon Jesus’ shattered body on the cross, he will be “beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals.” His suffering will be such that he will scarce be recognizable any longer as human.

However, just as Jesus will astonish by his suffering for us, so he “will startle many nations” as they hear what he has accomplished. Then the greatest and the highest, and the kings of the earth will be dumbstruck, rendered speechless, and “shut their mouths because of him.

An ancient preacher of the cross of Christ, Melito of Sardis (@ A. D. 160)
marveled at the message of the cross:

“He who suspended the earth is suspended
He who fastened the heavens is fastened,
He who fixed the universe is fixed on the wood,
God has been murdered?… God has clothed himself in humanity,
For me a sufferer he has suffered;
For one condemned he has been judged;
for one buried he has been buried.
For God replaced the lamb,
And a man the sheep;
But in the man was Christ
By nature both God and man.


Soaking in Scripture…

Today’s Andy Moments…

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