Friday, April 22, 2011
Today’s Topic: Suffering Brings Freedom
Today’s Text: Isaiah 42:6-7 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
This morning while chatting on facebook with an unsaved friend, I was asked how I was. You know, the typical conversation starter. I said I was fantastic, and then said why – This is the day out of all human history that God chose to solve man’s sin problem.” The friend responded, “I thought this was the day the Easter bunny got his eggs ready for Sunday.” It opened the door for a time of planting seeds of truth.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. That verse from Psalms directly refers to this day – the day that we traditionally celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. It was much more than a horrifying death at the hands of man: it was a substitutionary death at the hands of a loving God. Hard to comprehend, isn’t it? Love forcing suffering doesn’t make sense to our finite minds. But to those of us who are being saved by the blood of Jesus, it is the splendor of the Gospel. Unfortunately to the unsaved it is foolishness.
The payment of sin’s debt of death to a holy and righteous God is required from each one of us. We will either pay it ourselves or we will accept a payment already made and be debt-free. That payment was Jesus Christ who died on the cross. The payment was accepted and eternally validated when God raised Jesus from the dead and restored Him to His position of exalted honor on the throne of Heaven. That’s where those who accept His life in exchange for our own will meet Him and spend eternity with Him.
The suffering of Jesus brings us freedom. Blind eyes that cannot see God are opened when the light of God’s love is seen in Jesus. Bondage to sinful behaviors is broken when Jesus takes hold of our hand. Jesus became our sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!
I know it is skipping way ahead in our study of Isaiah, but chapter fifty-three has incredible significance and meaning when understood as a prophecy of Christ’s death on the cross. Read it slowly and carefully, and let the impact of it bless you and send you into a time of rejoicing, for this is the day the Lord planned for us.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He 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. He 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. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.