Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Isaiah 53:7 - The Lamb Slain

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,
so He opened not His mouth.

In this verse, the lamb-like qualities of the Savior are emphasized as His sufferings are further explained. The primary lamb-like quality to which our attention is drawn is silence. The explored aspect of His suffering is its essential injustice.   

The Nature of Christ's Suffering: Injustice

Our Lord was oppressed as men--His own creation--placed Him under their authority and exercised their false judgments against Him. He was afflicted and humbled as He willingly subjected Himself to this treatment. At the same time, He received from the Father all of the wrath and condemnation that should have been borne by sinners, and submitted Himself to the will of the Father. Man's judgment against Him--as He stood innocently before human rulers--was unrighteous, untrue, and hateful. God's judgment against Him as He stood in our place was righteous, accurate, and an act of infinite mercy.  

The comparison to a lamb that is led to slaughter brings our attention to the nature of His death: a sacrificial offering lovingly made on behalf of guilty sinners.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Jesus' death and suffering was "for us" and it was "to God." And this is what Christian love always is: sacrificial (i.e. unselfish) action that is done FOR OTHERS (to benefit them) and TO GOD (to honor Him). The cross of Jesus radiates this love in full power, and our lives of faith--sharing in the sufferings of Christ as well as His resurrection power--can radiate it, too. We are commanded to WALK in this love. Steps of sacrifice, steps of mercy, steps of worship, steps of joy. "Offering and sacrifice" are the language of worship. 

Jesus' worship of the Father was further expressed in His response to the oppression and affliction He experienced. 

Christ's Response to His Sufferings: Silence

Jesus' use of words was perfect. His selection of verbiage was precise. He knew when to keep silent, when to utter a few efficient words, and when to unleash a torrent of speech. We usually hold these matters in reverse proportion, remaining sinfully silent when we should speak, and babbling incessantly when we should hold our tongues. Jesus' silence before his accusers and His quiet acceptance of suffering remind us that He went willingly to the place of sacrifice. 

The silence predicted by Isaiah was demonstrated by the Lord when He was questioned by the High Priest: 

Matthew 26:62-63a And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

Mark 14:60-61a And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer.

Silence in the face of false accusations, injustice, and suffering is a dauntingly difficult discipline to master (or to practice from time to time, or even to achieve once). Jesus' mastery of this discipline is evident. 

Nevertheless, He did not remain entirely silent and later answered in wisdom and truth, thereby ensuring a false condemnation. His silence had merely set the stage for the answer that would follow, building the sense of anticipation and drawing attention and emphasis to His final reply. In this way, He assured His own condemnation while securing our release from divine wrath. He accepted man's false judgments against Him and He embraced the Father's true judgments that were rendered for us. He willingly chose to be condemned and graciously chose to die in our place.

Matthew 26:63b-66 And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 

Even from the cross, His statements are few and deliberate. As He dies, Jesus' words are life-giving. How much more as He now lives and sits exalted in the heavens!

Dear friend, do you trust in Jesus' sacrifice on your behalf? Do you hang on His words? Do you confess a confident and sure trust in the One who suffered and remained silent, then spoke deliberately and accepted the sentence of death--only to rise again in victory?

There are many problems in the world today. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to the greatest of them. And it is the only answer to your greatest problem, and mine: sin against a wise, holy, and loving God, and the condemnation it brings. With this problem resolved forever, you and I go free, and we are set free to walk in God's holy love.    

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