Thursday, April 16, 2020

If We Had Only Watched in Faith

For a while, I have been looking at the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the disciples who went through his suffering, death and burial with no attachment to what the prophets had written. They were not even able to attach to Jesus’ own words explaining to them what was ahead. When he began appearing to them as the resurrected Messiah, they were so settled in their grief that they couldn’t even recognize it was him.

Today my focus changed. I suddenly found myself journeying through the prophetic word from the viewpoint of a disciple who knew what was happening the whole time because of a certain hope and faith in what the prophets and Savior had declared. What would it be like to watch Jesus’ arrest, false trial, torture and execution with eyes that knew it was exactly what had to happen to fulfill all righteousness?

My starting point was what Jesus said to his disciples both before and after his death and resurrection. Prior to the events unfolding, Jesus told his disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.”[1]

After his death and resurrection, Jesus explained, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”[2]

Jesus had no problem telling his disciples that he was now fulfilling EVERYTHING written about him because it was all orchestrated ahead of time. His Father had sovereign rule over the universe. Nothing could go wrong with the divine plan.

The thing we are missing so much in our day is the awareness that our Father is sovereign and he is good. We can endure the arrest of our Savior because he is sovereign over the proceedings and is working it for good. We can weep and rejoice at our Savior’s beating and sorrow because we are so aware that we are witnessing what the prophets had written about him. In his suffering he is a living witness that he had “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”[3] We see clearly that, “he was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”[4]
If we were watching Jesus being beaten and abused, flogged for no reason, mocked and spit upon, pierced with a crown of thorns, forced to carry the beam of his cross on the shredded muscles of his back, we would say, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted,”[5] and we would grieve, but not as those who have no hope.[6]
When we witnessed the nails driven into Jesus’ wrists and feet, and saw him hanging on the cross with his lungs crushed by the horrendous weight of his own body, we would have known that “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.”[7]
And, as we grieved as we have never grieved before, we would also feel the intense wonder of love that, “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.”[8] We would let ourselves, “Be wretched and mourn and weep,” and let our, “laughter be turned to mourning and our joy to gloom,”[9] because we would recognize in our Savior’s suffering EXACTLY WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO US!!!! And in that awareness, we would feel the most intense wonder and worship that we had ever felt touch our sinful souls.
We would have cried out in our sorrow and exultation, “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 (as strange as that would have been), so he opened not his mouth.”[10] And we would have wept in amazement because we knew that we would have been kicking and screaming against the same injustices if we were put through such suffering we did not deserve.

And yet, here was our Savior, our powerful and mighty Savior who could have appealed to his Father who would have, “at once send me more than twelve legions of angels”, and yet he was willingly enduring the most criminal of abuses because, “how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”[11]
As we watched Jesus’ suffering come to an end with his deliberate cries of, “It is finished!”,[12] and, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”[13] we would have recognized that, “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?” But we knew. As we saw the religious hypocrites rejoicing in what they had accomplished, believing they had destroyed their arch enemy, we knew the truth, that Jesus our Messiah had just died for our transgressions.
When we then saw that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came and took Jesus’ body down from the cross and laid it in Joseph’s tomb,[14] we would have again agreed with the prophets that, “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.”[15]

That is as far as I’m able to process these wonderful realities today. I will continue meditating on these things in my time with God tomorrow and share the rest as soon as possible. In the meantime, all the gentle and compassionate and truth-in-love ways Jesus related to his disciples after his resurrection assure all of us that we can come to him with all our doubts, fears and struggles and his Holy Spirit will guide us into the truth by teaching us all things and bringing to our remembrance things he has already taught us (just like the resurrected Jesus kept reminding the disciples what he had already told them about his suffering, death, burial and resurrection).

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 18:31
[2] Luke 24:44
[3] Isaiah 53:2
[4] Isaiah 53:3
[5] Isaiah 53:4
[6] I Thessalonians 4:13. Although this speaks of how we are to view the death of fellow believers, it certainly applies to what we would have felt if we were watching our Savior dying but with the full confidence that everything written about him had to be fulfilled. We could let ourselves grieve the agony he endured, while marvelling in wonder at the great love that was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
[7] Isaiah 53:5
[8] Isaiah 53:6
[9] James 4:9
[10] Isaiah 53:7
[11] Matthew 26:53-54. “legion (division) n. — a division of a military force comparable in size to a Roman Legion (around 6000 foot-soldiers and 700 cavalrymen).” (Bible Sense Lexicon) That means that Jesus was thinking of approximately 80,000 angels coming to his rescue. This isn’t a focus on a particular number, but on the fact that, if Jesus simply decided he did not want to endure the cross, thousands of angels were ready to come and utterly destroy his enemies and welcome their God back to his rightful place on the throne.
[12] John 19:30
[13] Luke 23:46
[14] Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42
[15] Isaiah 53:

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