ISAIAH 53 ON GOOD FRIDAY

This is a repost of last year’s Good Friday blog.   More Holy Week related blogs can be linked to at the end of this post.

ISAIAH 53, RSV, With Comment.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Very few have believed, but not the ones you might think.  It is the paradox of the worldwide Christian movement.

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dryground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was not gorgeous, but he is beautiful!  His beauty, though, is not what draws us to him, not what makes us desire him.  It is his grace that pulls us in–the grace exhibited by leaving the lush expanse of heaven to be a dry, thirsty root in the desert of our wickedness.


He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We did not esteem him, he esteemed us.  He esteemed us as worthy of redemption–what a man!  What a man of sorrows.  Surely if we follow his path and teaching, what awaits us is derision, rejection, and isolation from the values of a world gone crazy; a world drunk on blood and violence and diseased with lust and greed.


Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

He bore our griefs?  Carried our sorrows?  Has he kept our tears in a jar and our laments on a flash drive?  Yes, and this even more feeds our arrogance to the point where we think something was wrong with him and with others; but never ourselves.


But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.

I am healed by his stripes.  I am healed in my spirit because I can connect with God; with the divine.  I am healed in my psyche because he affirms my worth and gives me purpose.  I am healed in my body because death has been cured and it no longer has the final word.


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.

Why do stray paths always look so right at the time?  Why am I prone to wander away from the Shepherd so much?  Jesus–the ultimate scapegoat for me, the wayward sheep.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.

If I am to truly model Christ’s humility and follow his lead of service, then at some point I am going to have to learn to shut my mouth and stop defending myself.  Explanations are not something the godly value.  Right actions speak for themselves, and then we let God do the talking.


By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

Oppression is the tool of the powerful to subjugate the weak.  It is the axe the powerful privileged use to clear the path for ambition.  Jesus was oppressed by politicians, evil religious leaders, and ignorant crowds easily manipulated.  That is what his generation did to him.


And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

How fitting that Christ my Lord was hung between two thieves; for that is what humans do best–steal!  It was what our parents did in the garden–steal from God.  Ever since we’ve longed for what was not ours to have.  Then they buried him in a rich man’s tomb.  Again, such poetics is rare in life.  He was the wealthiest ever–owner of the cosmos, but somehow even his grave was borrowed luxury.


Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him;
he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;
he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus offered himself on the altar of eternity and the reward was that he has gained for himself offspring–those of us who believe the report–those of us who love him.  Somehow, it is all about knowledge.  Whether it is the knowledge which Christ possesses or that people possess about Christ I do not know, but the key is knowledge.  Through knowledge the world gets better because through knowledge the iniquities are born.


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 was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

He was counted as one of us.  For me, that says it all, and that says enough.

 

More Holy Week Greenbean blogs:

Maundy Thursday Meditation

Easter Random Thoughts

Holy Week Reflection

Easter and Halloween

Sipping Coffee Thinking Hard

 

A MEDITATION FOR MAUNDY THURSDAY

Today is Holy Thursday–the day we think about Jesus eating the Lord’s Supper and washing the disciples’ feet.  I am thinking about John 13.   I have included the text of John 13:1-17 (ESV) below, with my thoughts today.

[Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet]
[13:1] Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus loved them to the end.  The bitter end.  He did not love them just because they were people and God loves the whole world.  He loved them because they were his friends.  That is the kind of love I want with Jesus–I want to be his friend, and it is also the kind of love I want with other people who minister with me.

[2] During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

In the midst of great love, there is betrayal.  “Lord, never let me forget that there are traitors in our midst who do not have the same motives as your followers.”

[3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, [4] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

I wonder if Jesus had ever done this before?  I can’t answer that question with any solid answer.  This is the only place it is found in Scripture, but my suspicion is that Jesus was always doing things like this–word pictures, actions, and activities where he tried to teach a greater truth.

[5] Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus literally baptized their feet.  The feet–the dirtiest, smelliest part of the body needed to be cleaned.  The part of the body that transported the sinful mind attached to it to various locations where sin would take place.  The feet, which trod upon the broken and the bruised, the neglected and the downcast.  The feet, which kick and churn in violence against spiritual truth.  Jesus baptized that part of the disciples.

[6] He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

That is a good question.  Simon was uncomfortable with this kind of love.  So am I.  I would rather do for others than have done for me. It is a particular kind of pride and arrogance I think I share with the surly fisherman.

[7] Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Nice try, Jesus.  I don’t know if Peter, or I, have ever fully understood, but I want to.

[8] Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” [9] Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

If a little is good, then a lot is better.  Make me clean all over–because it is not just my feet that are sinful and and nasty and dirty.  It is all of me.  If you’re trying to teach a lesson with this basin of water, Lord, then teach me a greater lesson with an ocean of water.

[10] Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”

“The one who has bathed”–who is that?  That is me.  I have bathed–I am a baptized Christ follower and my sins have been forgiven.  Yet I have fresh sins everyday that collect, apparently, below my ankles.  This must symbolize the daily need for cleaning–the spiritual cleaning of confession, repentance, and forgiveness.  It is not the water.  It is the tears.

[11] For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

I so wish Jesus had called out Judas right then.  I would have.  Then I would have told those Sons of Thunder to have taken him out back and beat him silly.  Jesus didn’t do that, though.  That is why he is the savior of the whole world and none of us are.  If I knew ahead of time the kind of things Jesus knew it would ruin me forever and disqualify me forever.  “Thank you Lord, for ignorance.”

[12] When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?

No. I do not understand.  Please tell me.

[13] You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

I can accept you as teacher, Lord, savior, friend, redeemer ,deliverer, Messiah and so much more.  However, I am really struggling with accepting you as a foot washing servant.

[14] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

That is gross Jesus.  Have you seen some of the people around me?  Okay, I’ll wash some feet, but give me till this afternoon to prepare a list of people whose feet I cannot wash.  Why those people you ask?  Well, for one thing, the minute I bend down and stoop my head I am sure they will stab me in the back or break my neck, or worse yet, they might ridicule me to those who are around me when I am bent over.  The other key reason is I hate them.

[16] Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

So what your saying is it doesn’t matter if I hate them?  What your saying is that my love for you, my master must be greater than my hate for them?

Let me just say for the record I prefer it much more when you criticize the Pharisees.  I don’t care too much for this meddling your doing with my life.

[17] If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

You have a funny definition of blessed, Jesus.  I’m just saying, but okay.  Help me with this–help me serve other people unconditionally in ways that are meaning for them not because it feels good but because you want me to do it.

HOLY WEEK REFLECTION

Yesterday in our Palm Sunday service my oldest daughter performed a monologue I wrote.  She did such a wonderful job with it.    The piece is a reflection of Holy Week based on the Gospel of John.  The Fourth Gospel is the one I’ve been working through during Lent and will also spend time with on Easter and afterward.  I thought I would post it here as many of us work this week to stay focused on the sacred time we are engaged in. 

For three years Jesus had tried to tell people about how to be spiritually healthy.  He had used metaphor after metaphor after metaphor.  “It’s like being born again,” he’d told the old religious leader.  “Are you thirsty?  It’s like drinking water” he told a marginalized woman in a male dominated world.  “Can you imagine eating food that came from God?  That’s exactly what it is like,” he told people in a synagogue.  “It’s like you were blind, but suddenly you see.  It’s like sheep that follow the one Good Shepherd.”

He tried every analogy known to man and God:  Wind, fruit, trees, servants, you name it—he tried it.  But the people still were not able to put their mind around what he was talking about.  He so badly wanted them to get it, but they hadn’t just yet.

Standing outside of Jerusalem he knows time is just about up.  The fullness of time ticked his whole life and now the tocks are louder as his hour is at hand.  His mission on planet earth was not only to teach the ways of God and of spiritual truth, but to embody spiritual truth.  The biggest part of that spiritual truth is sacrifice and atonement. The time for him to die at the hands of religious people and politicians is here.  They would not take his life.  He would give it.

Soon the water would be bloody.  Talk of being born again would become, “It is finished.”  The food from God would mutate into vinegar on a sponge and the taste of a bleeding, battered jaw.  The one who opened the eyes of the blind will now have his eyes beat swollen shut.  The good shepherd will, like sheep, be led to the slaughter.  No more talk of luscious fruit bearing trees; soon only the tree of pain would matter.  The only fruit now is oozing from underneath a thorny crown.

But the wind, the wind still blows.  It blows across Jesus face as he gazes at Jerusalem.  It blows through the Temple courtyard and down the crowded streets of the city at Passover.  It blows in the coming day—through a window in the upper room, in Pilate’s tussled hair, across Jesus hanging body, and in the midst of a tomb.  The wind blows and the Spirit of God descends upon his people and finally, slowly, they begin to understand and know what Jesus had been talking about all that time.