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I am always so blessed by Easter and the commemoration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This year, our Sunday school lesson on Easter Sunday was appropriately taken from Isaiah 53, a beautiful passage quite well-known to a lot of us. This past Sunday, one verse in particular caught my attention and took my thoughts down a path that ended up entwining with last week’s blog post. Amazing how that works.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
We know that Jesus was a rabbi of intense passion. Why else would’ve He been mistaken for the returning Elijah (Matthew 16:14), a man who ran over 30 miles in one day doing the Lord’s work? Nowhere better is Jesus’ incredible strength shown than at His trial before Pilate when He was falsely accused, yet said nothing in His own defense. If you’ve experienced false accusations, you know how hard silence is!
Isaiah 53:7 foretells Jesus’ humility before his accusers, and Matthew 27 is the fulfillment of that prophecy:
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
Jesus’ quietly composed manner in the face of railing accusations impressed even Pilate. The world is watching and forming their opinions of our beliefs and our God by the way we react to things, especially things that sting the flesh: a lost reputation, injury to our material possessions, betrayal…
Jesus reaction in the courtroom reminded me of a verse in 1 Peter 2 that says, “When he was reviled, he reviled not again.” My dad has used that verse to teach us children from little up that no matter what is done to us, we have no excuse to retaliate. I looked up that verse to share here, and in doing so I found that the verses surrounding it fit so perfectly with Jesus’ endurance of the cross and last week’s blog post about what Easter means in practical terms today:
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
(1 Peter 2:19-24)
“That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.” Yep, last week’s post in a nutshell. This is what the resurrection means to me today in shoe leather.
Jesus is the perfect example of selflessness, of patience, of a focus on God instead of a focus on self. We are called to the same, and through the power of His resurrection, we can have victory for the glory of God!
The original verse from Isaiah 53 sparked another topic in my mind as well: forgiveness. Jesus was so patient with His disciples during His earthly ministry. He knew all along that He had come to earth to die for the sins of the world, but the disciples took awhile to catch on. I can only imagine what I would’ve done in Jesus’ shoes when I saw my disciples committing some error when they really should’ve known better. I can just imagine myself berating them with, “Don’t you know I’m going to have to die for that later??” But He didn’t. Jesus was always so patient with His disciples. He was always looking out for ways to help them draw closer to His Father for their own spiritual wellbeing. He showed tremendous forgiveness to His disciples, to His friends, to His enemies (although I don’t think Jesus actually had any enemies…not in His mind, at least), and to me. He forgave us for making Him die. How much easier should it be for me to forgive those who offend me?
This line of thought reminded me of the line in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Do any of you mentally cringe when you pray that line? I’m so bad at forgiving people. My gut reaction is to childishly hang on to my own angst over piddly little things that people do to me. That line of the Lord’s Prayer always causes me to say, “Thank you, Lord, that You are not like me,” along with, “And please help me to forgive as You forgive.”
God has given us so much. Let’s live with an attitude of thankful humility this week. Let’s be glad to suffer for Jesus’ sake, all for the glory of God. Soli Deo Gloria