What did the suffering servant suffer for?

The benefits of a life of faith

Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. – Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:4-6,11-12

A root out of dry ground

I usually include the entire text I am going to comment on, but today’s text is just too long. So, if you are of a mind, you can read Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12. It is the most precise and graphic prophetic depiction of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Many people, when they just hear this text read, assume it to be from the New Testament, it so precisely describes the work of Christ.

Today, I want to focus us on the benefits of the work of Christ that are depicted in this text. (more…)

The miracle of glory at the wedding party

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. – John 2:1-11


Courtyard in the orthodox church of the first miracle, Cana, Israel

The interplay between Jesus and his mother, Mary, has always fascinated me. I still don’t know what to make of it. Clearly, Mary had expectations of Jesus’ capabilities when she brought it to his attention that the wine had run out. It appears that Jesus was irritated with her by referring to her as “woman” instead of something like, “Mom.” What does this have to do with me? It seems Jesus was reluctant to do anything about the depletion of wine at the party. Then Mary acts like Mom to her young son and ignores his desires. Her response? She tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” In hindsight, that is excellent advice. We should all take it.

But look at Jesus’ stated reason for irritation; “My hour has not yet come.” Jesus was already well aware that he had an “hour” awaiting him that was appointed from before the foundation of the world. And, that hour had not yet come.

Reference to that hour comes up again in John 7:30, “So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.” That same hour Jesus referenced with Mary is here shown to be the reason those who wanted to arrest him were prevented by Divine Providence.

Finally, his hour has come. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

Back at the wedding party, Jesus had satisfied his mother’s request and turned the water into wine. His disciples observed this first sign (as in signs and wonders) that Jesus did and manifested his glory. The results? His disciples believed in him. This apparently solidified their suspicions that Jesus is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah. But the glory manifested in Cana was muted in comparison to the glory that was about to be revealed.

The hour was to be an hour of untold suffering, but that was not the final point of the hour. This was the hour for the Father to glorify the Son so he could, in turn, glorify the Father. After the suffering came the resurrection and glory like had never before been seen.

In this glorification, Jesus is given authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all who the Father has given to him. That eternal life is knowing the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. That is the real hour Jesus was waiting for, the joy that was set before him that allowed him to endure the cross.

How do we respond to this series of historical events? I think the first item of importance is to be assured that we are among those given to Jesus by the Father so that we might have eternal life. How can we do that? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” It is a matter of believing this good news of these historical events and trusting God in this promise. All who call on the Lord will be saved.

Secondly, I think we should be sure to take Mary’s direction in life, “Do whatever he tells you.” That obedience at Cana resulted in the power working of the Holy Spirit through the words of Jesus to produce his first miracle (or sign if you will). It just may be that our obedience today to the words of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit will again open the door to his power working. The power working of the Spirit glorified Jesus at Cana; it can do the same here (wherever you are) today.

I do not promise a miracle if you will “only believe and obey,” but I am saying that if we do live in faithful obedience, we may see his glory manifest in his power works.

Consider his gracious power and whether or not you are anticipatory. He is alive and lives in us and among us by his Spirit.

Does this encourage you to be more expectant in anticipating God’s working in your life and the lives around you?

Tomorrow is Friday, but Sunday’s a-comin’

Good Friday! Who ever came up with that name? It’s not what I would think of if someone would say to me, “Have a good day.”

Was it such a good day for Jesus? From a human perspective, not so much. His “bad day” actually started the evening before. He celebrated the Passover meal late Thursday and had to deal with the fact of his betrayal by one of his best friends.

Later that evening as he prayed in the Garden, Jesus underwent what I believe was the greatest emotional and spiritual suffering a human ever experienced. In prayer, he was surrendering himself to the will of the Father to submit himself to the death penalty and all the other abuse he would take from the Roman soldiers. The death he was facing was not for his own offense but as a substitute for all we sinners who would believe on him through all time. He was voluntarily accepting the punishment for all of our sin. He was putting himself under the wrath of God for us. This agony he suffered in prayer was so intense that he sweat blood. Literally. Not a euphemism. (more…)

Sometimes you just have to preach to yourself

Reminding ourselves of what we have in Christ

Today I awoke in much pain…in both feet this time. Gout. It’s supposed to be the rich man’s disease. Hah! Then why do I have these attacks?

Now is the time for me to remind myself of God’s promises and what better place to go than Psalm 103. Today’s devotional will have a different format than usual. I am going to just post Psalm 103 with a few comments along with the text. I pray this will do you as much good as I know it will do me. (more…)

Are you “as guilty as sin?”

Have you died to that sin?

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. – Isaiah 53:10

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all. – Isasiah 53:4-6

The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him… – Colossians 1:21-22

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God… – 1 Peter 3:18

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. – Romans 6:5-12

Guilty as Sin!

I am sure we have all heard the expression, “guilty as sin.” I am also sure that most of us don’t stop to contemplate the truth of it in every case. We are all “guilty as sin,” or rather guilty of sin; both the sin of Adam we all inherited and guilty of our own particular sins. That guilt we bear is the reason Jesus died. That guilt subjects us all to the wrath of God (I know, this kind of talk is very politically incorrect, but it is Biblical). Jesus died to bear for us that wrath so we don’t have to, if we trust what he did for us. (more…)

Is it forgiveness that you are needing?

Delighting in the finished work of Christ for you

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  – Hebrews 2:17

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever….15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”… Hebrews 7:1-3,15-17

 22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant…25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself… Hebrews 7:22, 25-27

12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. – Hebrews 9:12-14

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Galatians 3:13

 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. – Romans 4:23-25

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

Last week I wrote about Christ’s High Priestly role fulfilling all of God’s law through his perfect obedience thus becoming righteous. This was his work which is credited to us through faith, and we are given his righteousness. The other part of his High Priestly work was to suffer the penalty of sin for us and thus secure the legal basis for our forgiveness. (more…)

Who else wants to be perfectly righteous?

Never feel dirty again.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 5:7-10

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:18-19

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:8

Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book. – Hebrews 10:7

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” – Matthew 3:13-15

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

And because of him (the Father) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Cornithians 1:30-31

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— Philippians 3:8-9

Whereas a prophet speaks for God to man, a priest mediates between man and God on behalf of man. Christ is our High Priest. During his life, there were two major strains of his priestly work. One was to fully obey the law of God and fulfill all righteousness on our behalf. The other strain was to bear the penalty of our sin and thereby provide forgiveness for our sins. We most often hear about his sin-bearing work which provides forgiveness. (more…)