It has been nearly six weeks since I regularly posted Lection Reflections. What started as a short break over Christmas turned into a ridiculously long break because of the government furlough and the catching up required after the government re-opened. Hopefully that mess is behind us now and I can resume writing daily.
This is the last of the four 'Suffering Servant songs' from the prophet Isaiah. From the beginning, this has been understood to speak directly of the coming Messiah. It is a striking passage for its depiction of the brutal suffering and anguish of Jesus, yet at the same time, it contains the comforting gem of verses five and six in chapter thirteen:
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the LORD has punished him
for the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53.5-6, CSB)
Of these verses Theodoret of Cyr writes, "He bore the sum of human evils and every form of transgression, as well as their recompense and punishment. And as if he were our debtor, the only-begotten Word of God, coming into the world alongside us, fulfilled every law and all righteousness and did not stumble over sin but received it willingly so as to change our punishment into peace and harmony. For undergoing temptation he carried our rebukes and punishments, and by faith we make our own his sufferings, and dying together with him we are saved by grace. He was not delivered by force but as an act of obedience" (Theodoret, Fragments on Isaiah).
Or as Clement of Alexandria said, "Isaiah says, 'The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,' that is, to correct our iniquities and set them right. For that reason, he alone is able to forgive our sins" (Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator).
This passage in Isaiah is shocking for its graphical description of Jesus abuse and crucifixion. It is simultaneously a clear reckoning of the good news of Christ--the one who took our sins and suffering on himself to heal us and grant us victory over sin, death, and the Devil. Thanks be to God!