LoS: Isaiah – Exposition (52:13-53:3)


52 13See, my servant will act wisely;

       he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

   14Just as there were many who were appalled at him —

       his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man

       and his form marred beyond human likeness—

   15so will he sprinkle many nations,

       and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

       For what they were not told, they will see,

       and what they have not heard, they will understand.

The Gospel of Mark records three significant acts of violence against our Lord and Savior prior to the Crucifixion: a beating at the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:65), a flogging by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:15) and torture (the “crown of thorns”) and beating by the same (Mark 15:17-19). These three acts of violence rise to the level of severity to be noted in this and other Gospels. We can be sure that there were many other “incidental” acts all along the way that were not noted.

None of the Gospel writers dwell on the gory details of these beatings, floggings or the crucifixion itself. They were writing to an audience who likely knew very well what it meant to be dealt with thus by the authorities of the day.

But for us, with almost twenty centuries of civilization between these events and our reading, the grim reality recedes into a bloodless grey. This prophetic passage reminds us of the gory reality of what our Savior suffered even before the horror of the cross. We take note not as gawkers at an irrelevant accident, but as pilgrims seeking to understand the full price paid for, and therefore the full terrible debt incurred by, our sin.

53 1Who has believed our message

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

   2He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

       and like a root out of dry ground.

       He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

       nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

   3He was despised and rejected by men,

       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

       Like one from whom men hide their faces

       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We tend to focus on the suffering of Christ associated with the Crucifixion. However, the fact that the Son of God would leave behind His heavenly glory to enter into our flesh with all of its infirmities, walk among us to be treated by many as at best nothing more than a homeless vagabond and at worst a blasphemer, suffering the fickle allegiance of men with their own petty, selfish agendas, is an act of humble suffering that must be considered.

Every day of His earthly life Christ chose to suppress His glory so as to further His mission. His miracles were in the service of mercy and healing, not as the devil had tempted, in the service of His own ego.

The only clear exception was the Mount of Transfiguration. Here Christ allowed only three disciples (Peter, John and James) to witness a glimpse of His true glory. One of His purposes appears to have been to help these three understand the full magnitude of what Christ was going to give up in payment for our sin. For immediately after the event He says, In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” (Matthew 17:12b).transfiguration-of-Jesus-450x330

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