Going Deeper 4-9-2019

)The first reading for Palm Sunday...
Isaiah 50:4-9a   The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.  Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.  The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.  I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.  The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries?  Let them confront me.  It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

There has been-- and continues to be-- a great deal of debate among Bible scholars and commentators as to who the "suffering servant" figure is that is referred to in this section of Isaiah.  Is it the writer, some imaginary figure, the nation of Israel, or Jesus?  No one knows for sure who these scriptures originally had in mind, but Christians have come to understand it as ultimately pointing to Jesus.

Jesus was a teacher who could (and still can) "sustain the weary with a word."  Jesus gave his back to those who struck and whipped Him, who insulted and spat upon Him.  Jesus was clearly a suffering servant.  

From another angle, this text has been described as a "Psalm of Confidence."  The suffering servant endured the trials and pain because of his trust in God.  This was certainly true of Jesus, and it can be true for us as well.  While we do not understand the origins and causes of all of our pain, we do know that we can trust God to not only see us through but also to work through pain and suffering for our good, according to His purposes.

These powerful words of Paul are a New Testament Psalm of Confidence (from Romans 8): "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. ... If God is for us, who is against us? ... Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered."  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

When the going gets tough... the wise lean on God!

(For a very personal and contemporary example, I invite you to check out our daughter Sara's blog: A Foster Mama's Heart... https://afostermamasheart.blogspot.com/2019/04/its-been-awhile.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AFosterMamasHeart+%28A+Foster+Mama%27s+Heart%29)

With You in Him,
Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."