In Isaiah 53, the ancient Hebrew prophet predicts the coming of God’s “suffering Servant,” stating, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (v. 1) Verses 3-4 expand on mankind’s disbelief when it says, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.”
Hanging on the cross, with a criminal on His left and another on His right, He did indeed appear stricken by God. But He wasn’t. He was chosen, the anointed One. The long promised Savior.
While from the royal line of David and God’s ultimate High Priest, that wasn’t how Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the world. Instead, He came humbly to an impoverished couple few knew or had heard about. He didn’t strut about in fancy priestly garments or spend his time with the religious elite. When others tried to force Him into a position of power, He quietly slipped away, modeling instead a life of service. The people’s expectations blinded them to the truth His words and miracles proclaimed—that He was the great I Am, God’s Son, sent to set us free.
The same disbelief keeps many enslaved to sin today, despite the many proofs God has given us for the gospel. In this, I’m reminded of Luke 16, one of the saddest sections in Scripture. In this passage, Jesus tells of a rich man who lived in luxury and a poor man who lived in torment. Upon his death, the angels carried the beggar “to Abraham’s side” while the rich man went to Hades. In torment, he begged Abraham to send the peasant to warn his still living family, so that they wouldn’t experience the same suffering.
Consider the irony verses 29-30 revealed in the dialogue that followed:
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’”
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Jesus, the One who would soon die and rise again, told this story to sneering Pharisees, knowing most of them would still reject Him, even after the resurrection. I imagine He was thinking of some of our friends, neighbors and family members as well, some who might one day read this article of Messianic prophecies, written by a life He publicly transformed.
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