Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Friday Meditation #1: Predictions of the Suffering Servant

Isaiah 49:5 "And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him—for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength." (ESV)

Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV)

In preparation for Good Friday, I thought it would benefit us greatly to consider what the scripture has to say about Jesus Christ in His sufferings and death.  The two books of Isaiah and Mark unfold the particular way in which Jesus Christ came as the suffering and victorious Servant of the Lord. Why study the prophecies of Isaiah and the Gospel of Mark to understand the meaning of Jesus' sufferings? Because Isaiah predicted the mission of Jesus' sufferings, while Mark detailed the fulfillment of Isaiah's predictions.  May today's blog encourage you to consider more closely Jesus Christ and the significance of this time of year as we look forward to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Isaiah's four predictions of Jesus the suffering servant and the fulfillments of those predictions in Mark's Gospel
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, there are four sections called "servant songs".  The reason for this name is because of the frequent occurance of the name "servant" and because the sections in question are structured in the form of prophetic, poetic songs.  Isaiah lived over 700 years before Jesus Christ, and yet his predictions of the person and work of Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection stand out as the most striking and detailed prophecies of those truths.  I will first list the servant songs, their verse references and brief commentary, so as to give you the reader the wonder that is the predictions of the Suffering Servant Jesus Christ.  As each Servant song is listed, the appropriate section in Mark's Gospel will be included to reveal how Jesus came as the predicted Suffering Servant to die and raise from the dead.   

1. The Ministry of the Predicted Servant Isaiah 42:1-13; Mk 1-10 
Isaiah 42:1 reads - "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations." (NASB)  This first Servant Song focuses upon what will be the ministry of the predicted Servant.  Remarkably, in Mark's Gospel, we see John the Baptist heralding the coming of Jesus in Mark 1:1-13, followed by Jesus' public ministry in Mark 1:14-10:52.  It is in that first major section of Mark that we see the main verse of Mark's Gospel, Mark 10:45, where Jesus states Himself as the Son of Man who "came to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." 

2. The Majesty of the Rejected Servant.  Isaiah 49:1-7; Mark 11-13
Isaiah 49:7 states - "Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, To the despised One, To the One abhorred by the nation, To the Servant of rulers, "Kings will see and arise, Princes will also bow down, Because of the LORD who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You."  This second of Isaiah's Servant Songs sees the predicted Servant commissioned by Jehovah to be a light to the nations (49:1-6).  Sadly, this Servant will be seen by His people and kings alike, only to be rejected (49:7)  In Mark's Gospel, we see a second major section depicting Jesus Christ riding into Jerusalem to present Himself as Israel's King. (Mark 11:1-13:37)  In keeping with the sequence of Isaiah's Prophecies, Jesus would be rejected by His people, despite being God in human flesh, the very light sent by God the Father. 

3. The Murder of the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 50:1-11; 52:13-53:12; Mark 14-15
We now see the third (Isaiah 50:1-11) and Fourth (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) songs of Isaiah detailing the remarkable predictions of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  In Mark 14-15 we see the fulfillment of these predictions.  Scripture tells us that the crucifixion of our Lord was ultimately planned by God the Father and the Son in eternity, as evidence by the Son of God coming to fulfill the Gospel or Good News. (Mark 1:1; Acts 2:23-24)  Second, scripture also tells us that Jesus Himself went willingly, as evidenced by His choice to do the will of His Father in Gethesemane. (Mark 14:32-42) Then finally, on the human side of the crucifixion, Jesus' death had been premeditated by the Jewish leaders, Pilate and other enemies. (Mark 3:6, 4:5,15, 16-17, 6:25,27; 14:43, 45; 15:1) 

4. Massive Victory of the Risen Servant.  Isaiah 53:10-12; Mark 16
In the fourth servant song of Isaiah, we see a prediction of Christ's resurrection.  Consider Isaiah 53:11 "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."  How can the Servant "see and be satisfied" after having underwent so much suffering and agony?  Mark 16:6 tells us - "And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him." 

May the Lord richly bless you dear reader as you fix your eyes on Jesus. 

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