March 30, 2014.
“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.”
I like to refer to this portion of the book of Isaiah as the gospel, according to Isaiah. This is one of the reasons that I love prophecy. The predicted Messiah was prophesied about in beautiful language hundreds of years before His birth. The children of Israel had been looking for Him since the fall, as the first prophecy recorded is in the third chapter of the book of Genesis. Look at the detail used in this account.
“Who has believed what he has heard from us?” Jesus did not have many supporters compared to the number who opposed him. Even his own brothers didn’t believe him before his resurrection, to the point where he had to as John, the beloved disciple, to take care of his mother after he was gone. “He was despised and rejected by men.” He did not come in royal apparel or from a noble family, “no beauty that we should desire him.”
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.” Yet while we were still in sin, Jesus went to the cross to bear sin, once for all, and provide the perfect sacrifice, a lamb without blemish, that we might be reconciled to him. “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth… he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
This event was not without thought. It was the plan from the beginning (I Pet. 1:20). This prophecy was used to teach Jews and proselytes about the Messiah, and bring them to know Christ. In fact, this very passage was used in the Ethiopian Eunuch’s conversion. The Holy Spirit told Philip to go and join himself to a chariot in which a man who was reading from this chapter of Isaiah was trying to figure out what the prophet was saying. Philip began at the same passage and preached to him Jesus (Acts 8). I love that phrase. He took the prophecy and preached Jesus. Then they passed water, and the Eunuch, not Philip, asked if he could be baptized. This is true understanding and faith, for it was on his own accord.
Isn’t that beautiful? This story really displays the gospel according to Isaiah. I hope we can spread it as effectively today, and I pray that we are taking every effort to do so.
Suggested Daily Reading: Isaiah 52-53, Acts 8, I Peter 1.
Grace and peace.