ISSL Reflections April 4, 2021, Isaiah 53:4-11a Post 1

We approach Easter Sunday this week.

Yesterday, in many churches, the Gospel reading took us back to Palm Sunday when cheering people greeted Jesus. This week we move through the week with Jesus in Jerusalem maybe noting some of the events of the week, including his final meal with some of his disciples, his prayers, his fears, his condemnation by both military/political leaders and religious leaders, his death and the silence of the Saturday after his death. Sometimes it is a good thing to walk with Jesus through that week slowly enough to notice these things rather than to “run” too quickly to Easter Sunday.

Our Scripture focus for this week is a passage from Isaiah that is often counted as one of the “Servant Songs” in Isaiah.

Please, don’t rush over these few sentences. Spend time with them. Hear them. Visualize them. Let them settle into your consciousness until you can feel some of the passion with which Isaiah first spoke them.

Isaiah 53:4-11

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

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

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

I would like us this week to spend enough time with these words to begin to notice the many levels on which they might both instruct and inspire us.

First I invite you to turn for a few moments to an encounter recorded in Acts,

Acts 8:27-35

Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus

The Ethiopian court official and the disciple Philip are sitting with some of the same words we are this week.

A natural question is asked, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”

Philip’s response is to show the man how the prophet’s words describe aspects of Jesus’ life and words.

As you reread the passage from Isaiah, what do you notice that speaks of Jesus?

Don’t limit yourself to thinking only about Jesus’ last week. What might these words point to in the years of Jesus’ time with the disciples and the crowds that were drawn to him?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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