Last time we looked at the first of five stanzas we find in this most significant prophetic passage. Let’s now look at Isa 53:1-3 which forms the second stanza, beginning at Isaiah 53.
· 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Our history as human beings is a litany of unbelief in the One who is there. More. Unbelief that he has spoken. Unbelief in His wondrous creation and unending provision. Unbelief in His intent to bless us and give freely to us of His abundance.
This unbelief began in the Garden even as the gracious arm of the Lord was revealed to them–us. Though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize Him. The Lord spoke and everything we see, hear, taste, smell, feel and touch sprang into existence. And remains, despite our exploiting and wasteful ways! Still intact, day after day. Yet we took no notice of His voice and turned away from Love and Value and Truth and listened to the speech of the liar and believed, yes believed, a lie! We trusted, not in Him, who loved His creation, who fathered us after His own character, who spoke lifegiving words to us, but we trusted in the words of the liar, the deceiver, the accuser, the spoiler, the harbinger of death.
How could we have been so stupid? How can we go on believing the Liar instead of the Lover?
He did not give up on us. He pursued us, revealing His mighty arm again and again. But how few of us believed His words! At last, He sent His Son in person, out of Himself, but in human form, in perfect man-ness to His own ancient people. Again the arm of the Lord was revealed in word, in deed, in love. Clearly, demonstrably.
· 53:2a He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He arrived, the best kept secret. Experienced refugee status in Egypt. Then grew up in Nazareth his home –what a surprise. Can anything good come out of Nazareth, we asked. He did not grow up before the world, before the media, before the crowds. He grew up before Him, his Father. A tender shoot. Vulnerable, like us. Needed Mum. Needed protection. Needed an education. No flamboyance. No displays of power. No regal ideas, no pomp and circumstance, no triumphalism. Utter humility. A mere root out of dry ground—a desert, in a famine of the word of the Lord, Israel’s lowest ebb.
Could this really be the root, the stump of Jesse? The Messiah? we all asked.
Just couldn’t be. His own did not even receive Him! He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him! Impossible.
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet:“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed.” (John 12:37-38)
Signs aplenty. Unbelief. Evidence. Unbelief.
· Isa 53:2b He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He came, not like David, as we expected! Not aggressive, not king-like, not conquering. Not like a loud politician or slick televangelist. So convincingly a human like all of us. And we were blind to his glory and perfectness. Because of our assumptions. We looked for a white swan but Yahweh sent a black one. Nothing in our experience prepared us for this one. Nothing, not even the earlier Hebrew prophecies, foreshadowed for us this surprising appearance on to the world’s stage. Nothing like this was expected as a possibility. His impact was epoch-making but visible only to those with eyes to see, with ears to hear, prepared to abandon assumptions.
· Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
The creativity, the genius of Yahweh was so great, so unexpected, so different from our unholy assumptions, that we despised him. We did not want a man of suffering and familiar with pain. We did not want or think that God would make him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that only in him we might become the righteousness of God.
No ,we wanted our own righteousness. We would do it my way, our way. We saw no need that someone should suffer to be the Messiah.
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled2 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him;they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Luke 18:31-33
Yes ,we listened to madness, to hell. We wanted anything but this man. Even Caesar! Even Barabbas! Three cheers for Judas. We all fled, hopes dashed, visions shattered. Alone he faced his despisers, his judges, his deriders, his torturers. We hid our faces. We closed our eyes.
We still do, maybe. Hide our faces, think about other, nice, things. What?