Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
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.
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.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—everyone—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:1–6)
Isaiah, writing a prophecy about the coming Messiah, simply doesn’t present Jesus the way I would present Jesus. He seems to present only a shadow of the man that Jesus truly was. I prefer to think of Jesus as an amazing individual. People came to hear him preach in the thousands. They brought to him their sick, lame, and blind. They were amazed at the authority with which he taught. And when the religious leaders considered arresting him, they were worried about a popular uprising.
So why all the negativity, Isaiah?
If I’m honest, I get caught up in the same Messianic mentality that caused Peter to rebuke Jesus when Jesus predicted his death, a rebuke which was countered by Jesus saying, “Get behind me Satan!”
I get caught up in the same Messianic mob mentality that was able to celebrate the triumphant entry on Sunday only to cry out “Crucify him!” by Friday.
For the most part, we don’t need to be reminded of the greatness of the people we follow. We follow them because we think they are great. We do need to be reminded, however, that the true greatness of Christ was his humility, his willingness to be despised and rejected by humanity, and his willingness to give us life through his death.
Some of you may be asking, “Isn’t he the King of kings and Lord of lords?”
I absolutely need to remember that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The Father has given him a name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. However, I also must remember that the Father did this because Jesus was obedient to death, even the humiliating death on the cross (Philippians 2:8–11).
Heavenly Father, help me to remember that my Lord is a suffering servant, that my Savior was a perfect sacrifice. Give me the same spirit. In the name of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, amen.