Fast - Day One

Monday, April 6, 2009

This morning I read Isaiah 53, a prophecy in the Old Testament that tells how the Messiah would save us and reconcile us to God. The Jews in Jerusalem were expecting the Messiah to be a conquering King, coming to release them from the rule and oppression of the Romans. Yet Jesus came as a servant, the spotless, sinless lamb of sacrifice, suffering in our place for our sins.

Isaiah 53:1-12 ESV

(1) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

(2) For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

(3) 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.

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

(5) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

(6) 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.

(7) 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 silent, so he opened not his mouth.

(8) 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?

(9) 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.

(10) Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

(11) Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

(12) Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, 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 makes intercession for the transgressors.

Christians embrace this passage, as it is a prophesy pointing to Jesus’ propitiation (taking our place) on the cross. But many who accept the OT prophesies of a coming Messiah either ignore this one, or reject it as applying to Jesus, even though He fulfilled this prophecy in many ways.

I read the passage again during my usual lunch period, feasting on the words over and over. As I contemplated this passage, I decided to begin memorizing it, which may take a while. The first day of a fast is usually hardest for me, because my stomach and brain are expecting food, and the energy drain makes my brain a bit fuzzy by the end of the day, like now. So I don't know how much headway I'll make with the memorization process this week, but it's on my list of sections to memorize.

This passage is so rich with prophetic images of Jesus’ suffering, and yet its impact on me today was not one of sorrow. It was more like a conviction of what I already know: that Jesus is the Messiah, the One sent to save us from the just wrath of God because of our sinful rebellion against Him. How perfect is the plan of the Lord!

Today’s song is a reflection of this passage from Isaiah, written by Philip Bliss (Here’s a short video biography produced by my church.) This version performed by a band from my church called Ex Nihilo. (My preferred version is by another band from my church called The Brothers of the Empty Tomb, but I don’t have a copy of their funky, celebratory arrangement. I’ve also provided another (more uptempo) version from a now defunct band called The BCG (also from my church).


Written by Philip Bliss 1838-1876

Performed by Ex Nihilo (Recorded live, Nov. 2008)

Performed by BCG (Recorded live, Nov. 2007)

Man of sorrows, what a name

for the Son of God, who came,

ruined sinners to reclaim.

Alleluia! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

in my place condemned He stood,

sealed my pardon with His blood.

Alleluia! What a Savior!

Guilty, helpless, lost were we,

spotless Lamb of God was He,

full atonement can it be.

Alleluia! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die.

'It is finished!' Was His cry.

Now in heaven exulted high.

Alleluia! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,

all His ransomed home to bring,

then anew this song we'll sing:

Alleluia! What a Savior!

Oh thank You, Jesus, that You came to make intercession for me, a transgressor. Thank You, Jesus, that You bore my grief and sorrow and sin, and You did so willingly, suffering in my place for my sins, pouring out Your soul to death for my iniquity, making an offering and being the offering for my guilt. Thank You, Jesus, that You restored me to God, to Yourself, by your wounds. Thank You, Jesus, that You were rejected so I could be accepted, that You were a man of sorrows, and bore my grief, so that in my grief I can still find hope in You. What a great Savior You are!