Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Isaiah 53:3 The Sorrowful Messiah

In the last two posts I have written about the first two verses of Isaiah 53. I don't know how far I will get in this chapter on this blog. My workload has increased due to other responsibilities. On this post I plan to examine the third verse.

"He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised and we did not esteem Him."
Isaiah 53:3 

  The focus of this exposition will be on the phrase 'a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief'. The Lord Jesus did not live long on this earth. It was only about 33 years and yet the text says that he was a man of sorrows, a man who was often full of sorrows. Let us consider why He was a man with many sorrows and griefs. 

   The first reason for His many sorrows is found here in this verse. Jesus was sorrowful because He was rejected and despised. He came to save Israel, His covenant people. He came to rescue them from the wrath to come. But they rejected the light. They wanted nothing to do with a savior from sin. The Jews wanted a savior to defeat the Romans. Jesus was sorrowful due to His rejection not so much for Himself, but because of what would happen to the Jews since they rejected their king and Savior. 

     Consider Luke 19:41-42 which says, "When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." In the next verses Jesus describes the horrible siege that would come to Jerusalem because she rejected her Lord. In Matthew 23:37 we read of Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem. "Jerusalem Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling." In both these passages Jesus grieves over the unbelief of the Jews. In Mark 3:5 it says that Jesus was 'grieved at their hardness of heart' in reference to the Pharisees who refused to listen and believe. 

 All of these verses show that the unbelief and rejection of the Jews caused Jesus great sorrow. He knew that these stubborn people would suffer many things for their rejection of their Savior. He saw 70 A.D. when Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. He saw throughout the many long ages when the Jews would be persecuted and hated. He saw a final great persecution of the Jews in which many would die and through which a remnant would emerge and mourn for the one they had pierced. Our God is a compassionate God who does not take delight in the death of the wicked. So I believe that Jesus was often filled with sorrow due to the unbelief of those around Him. 

 Shouldn't this teach us that we should be concerned with the masses of people who live in darkness. If God is compassionate toward them, shouldn't we have the same heart attitude? Evangelism and mission should be a greater priority for us as Christians and as churches. The world may hate us like they hate God, but we ,like God, should show them love and call them to faith and repentance so they may escape the unspeakable horrors of hell.

   Jesus was a man of sorrows because he was holy and lived among a people who were sinners. No one ever was perfect in holiness like our Lord. He was the eternal Holy One who hates sin and cannot even look upon it. Yet this man lived in the midst of a world filled with great evil. Jesus lived to bring the Father glory. Jesus supreme desire was to do the Father's will, so what sorrow it would cause Him to see God's will rejected and God's name dishonored.

Another reason that Jesus was a man of sorrows was because He was grieved at the evil that sin brought into the world. We can see this when Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He wept with those who wept. He wept for the sorrow of His friends. Sin brings death. Sin brings conflict. Families are broken because of sin. Countries are ruined because of sin. Sin turns man into a monster that does great evil to others and to the world he lives in. Sin has infected all people and brought a curse on this entire world. Jesus saw this curse through out His life. This filled Him with sorrow. But Jesus came to reverse the curse. He came to defeat death. He came to change the wicked hearts of people. The Lord Jesus is indeed the great Conqueror.

 Lastly I believe that the lack of faith and sin of the disciples brought Jesus sorrow. The disciples fought about who was greatest on a number of occasions. They were slow to understand the truths that Jesus taught them. The betrayal of Judas and the three-fold denial by Peter would have brought grief to Jesus, as well as the desertion of the other 10 disciples when He was arrested. The sins and weakness of His disciples would have burdened and saddened Jesus Christ.

   While Jesus was the most sorrowful man that ever lived, I believe He was the most joyful man that ever lived. Jesus promised that if His disciples would obey his command they would have fullness of joy like He had. "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:11. See also 16:24 and 17:13  Jesus' joy did not come from outward circumstances. His joy came from His obedience and fellowship with the Father. This is then our model as well. Do we want real joy even when all around us falls apart? Then we must find that joy in fellowship with God as we walk with Him in godliness.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Isaiah 53:2 The Ordinary Messiah

 The last post I wrote was a short explanation and application of  Isaiah 53:1. In this post the second verse will be our meditation.

"For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, 
And like a root out of a parched ground; 
He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, 
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him." 
Isaiah 53:2 

    One of the reasons Jesus was rejected as the Messiah was due to the manner He came in. He didn't show up like people wanted Him to show up. Their expectations were at odds with God's plans.

   The people were expecting a great king from the house of David. This is what God promised and yet it came to fulfillment in a way no one expected. The house of David was like a barren land. None of his sons sat on a throne or held any position of leadership. Joseph was a son of David but he was a poor man living in a small town. Instead of a throne and a crown, he had a carpenter's workshop. The line of David seemed to be all but dead. But God raises the dead. The fallen house of David was about to be rebuilt through the Lord Jesus. He came out of the fallen Davidic line like a small branch growing out of a dead stump or like a blade of grass growing in the wilderness. Jesus never lived in a palace. He was never rich. But He was the Son of David, even if outward appearances seemed to say otherwise.

People in every time and age are just like the Jews of Jesus' time. People have their own ideas of what Jesus should be. Some want Him to be a heavenly Santa Claus that gives them all their heart's desire. Some want Jesus to be just a good teacher who tells people how they should live a good life. Maybe the Jesus that some people want is less holy and winks at their sins. Whatever the reason may be, people will reject Jesus as their Savior and Lord since that is not what they want Him to be. Only those who are desperate for forgiveness and repent of their sins will find in the Lord Jesus the Savior they need and the Lord they must follow.

   Painters and artists have for years depicted the Lord Jesus as a handsome man with long flowing hair and a perpetual glow of light around His head. Even His clothes are somewhat other worldly compared to whatever anyone else is wearing around Him. If you saw such a man on the streets, you would surely take notice. Right away you would think that something is special or unique about a man like that. I think people depict Jesus like this out of a sense of respect and love. But it is not a biblical portrait of the Savior. The verse we are looking at makes this clear.

  Jesus' outward appearance was ordinary. He looked like any other Jew of His time. There was nothing in His face or body that made Him stand out. People like to have a leader that has good outward features. They want him to have the look of royalty. We desire a king who looks strong, handsome, and regal. But Jesus didn't look like that. His appearance didn't attract the admiration of anyone. In fact His appearance may have been unattractive. So when Jesus said he was the Messiah and the Son of God, people rejected this due to His rather normal appearance.  Perhaps they asked how could this normal, plain, and unattractive man be the very Son of God.  God planed it this way so they would have to believe the words of His Son rather than trust His looks.

    Consider this truth for a minute. Consider how low was the humiliation of Jesus. He is eternal and dwells in unapproachable light. He is beautiful in holiness. Angels hide their faces from His glory. Yet Jesus was willing to live a life of poverty, hard work and obscurity in the carpenter's shop in Nazareth. He was willing to dwell in a normal and plain human body. His divine glory was not to be seen from His outward appearance. It is hard for people who are famous or powerful, to become low and common. But Jesus was content to do the Father's will in this matter. Only once was the veil of His human flesh pulled back. This was on the mount of Transfiguration. For the rest of His life, He looked like a normal, ordinary person. Only when He returns, will we see our Lord in His full glory on this earth as He rules as a great king from sea to sea.

    The Christian is in a somewhat similar position. We are adopted by God into His family. We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. The Lord of all loves us and delights in us. We are united with Christ and will reign with Him forever. But this world doesn't see this reality. Often Christians are despised and rejected. We are mocked and persecuted. We are treated like untouchables or lepers. But let us bear with these persecutions for a time. Our Lord went through the same sufferings that we do, in fact His were worse. Let us cheerfully endure such hardships for the sake of the One who loved us so much to suffer for us.

 "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." 1 John 3:2

  "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison." 2 Corinthians 4:17



Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Question To My Infant Baptist Friends

 I have an honest and sincere question for those who practice infant baptism. I have come across this perplexity a number of times and I was hoping someone could explain it to me. So the scenario is this: A Roman Catholic comes to faith in Christ and attends a Reformed church. Since he was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church, he is not baptized in the Reformed church, but only needs to do profession of faith. I have heard it said by Reformed people that the infant baptism of the Roman Catholic church is considered a real baptism. My wife was told it doesn't matter who does the baptism as long as you were baptized into the name of the Trinity.

  The problem with this seems to be the theology of the covenant that is held by Reformed people. As I understand it, God made a covenant with believers and their children. Those who are saved, justified by faith and born again are in God's covenant along with their children. It is the faith of the parents or parent that is the basis for their children being part of the covenant. So far so good?

 The Roman Catholic church does not preach the gospel.Their gospel is a false gospel that doesn't save and therefore their church is a false church. There may be a handful of Christians in the Catholic church, but generally it is safe to say that most are not saved and have no saving faith. Since there is no saving faith, they and their children wouldn't be in the covenant, regardless of whether they baptize their children.The faith of the parents is what brings a child into the covenant. There is nothing holy in the water or in the act of baptism. Catholics may think otherwise, but that is not the orthodox , Biblical understanding. Therefore an infant baptism in the Catholic church is not a real baptism. Their children are not in the covenant. So when a Catholic comes to faith later in life shouldn't they be baptized? What if someone who was baptized as an infant in some other church, like the Church of England, which is largely a dead church, comes to saving faith later in life, wouldn't you need to determine if their parents are believers before you accept their baptism?

 This also begs another question. What about if your parents leave the church or are excommunicated and show by their life that they are not Christians. Does this not invalidate your baptism and covenant status? If the parents show in later life there is no saving faith, does this mean you need to be baptized again? Doesn't your assurance that you are a covenant child then rest on your parent's faith? How would you deal with someone who lacks that assurance because their parents are living in an ungodly way?

 Could some of my Reformed friends answer these questions for me?

Baptist Brad