This is The Living Word for Sunday, April 2, 2023 (Lent 6)
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Passion Sunday: Jesus paid a high price for us who call Him Lord
9-10 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours and an object of dread to my closest friends — those who see me on the street flee from Me.
12-13 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against Me and plot to take My life.
14 But I trust in You, Lord; I say, “You are My God.” My times are in Yyour hands; deliver Me from the hands of My enemies, from those who pursue Me.
16 Let Your face shine on Your servant; save Me in Your unfailing love.
Isaiah 50:4-9 — The messenger of good news submits to God’s purpose
• There will be pain, and shameful accusation — but also vindication
4-5 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, wakens My ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign LORD has opened My ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.
“A well-instructed tongue” — this third Servant Song speaks of the Messiah, submissive to God, and humble in trial.
“The word that sustains the weary” — in an earlier prophecy, the Lord sends His messenger with the good news that “He gives strength to the weary”, Isaiah 40:28-31.
6 I offered My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who pulled out My beard; I did not hide My face from mocking and spitting.
“I offered My back” — torment at the crucifixion, Matthew 26:67, 27:30.
7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps Me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
“Shame” — at first, but the servant foresees the God-ordained outcome.
8 He who vindicates Me is near. Who then will bring charges against Me? Let us face each other! Who is My accuser? Let him confront Me!
“Vindicates” — or justifies: as the sinless Saviour, Christ is uniquely empowered to cancel charges brought against those who choose to belong to Him.
9 It is the Sovereign LORD who helps Me.
SUMMARY The words of the psalm can be taken as prophetic of Christ’s prayer in the hands of His tormentors. Isaiah’s graphic words are clearly predictive of the punishment he was to receive.
APPLICATION Because He was tested to the ultimate, He was also exalted to the highest honour; we call Him our Lord, reflecting that price paid for us.
QUESTION We see much defeat in this passage, but where do we hear victory?
Matthew 27:11-54 — Pilate orders Jesus to be flogged and crucified
• As He surrenders His life an earthquake rips apart the temple curtain
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, “Are You the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
“The governor” — historian Tacitus records Christ’s sentencing by the prefect Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. The Jews framed Jesus as a political rebel; for Pilate, blasphemy held little sway.
12-14 When He was accused by the chief priests and the elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate asked Him, “Don’t You hear the testimony they are bringing against You?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge — to the great amazement of the governor.
“Great amazement” — Pilate had not encountered a defendant who did not plead for mercy.
15-16 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.
17-18 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”
“That innocent man” — a disturbing nightmare was held to be significant; under Roman law an innocent man should not be put to death. Pilate’s instinct was that the charges were false, but he feared an uprising.
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas, and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify Him!”
23 “Why? What crime has He committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!”
“Why?” — Pilate thought the crowd would prefer the release of a doer of good, to a violent robber, Mark 15:7, John 18:40. The crowd that had acclaimed Jesus now proved fickle.
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
“His blood is on us” — fulfilled in Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70.
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified.
“Flogged” — the “By His stripes” quotation sees this brutal flogging as part of the execution, Isaiah 53:5. 1 Peter 2:24.
27-29 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand. Then they knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
“Mocked Him” — as Isaiah 50:6 (above). Having been mocked as a prophet at trial, Matt. 26:67-68, now He is mocked as king, also vv. 37-44 below.
30-31 They spat on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
32-34 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced Him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, He refused to drink it.
“A man from Cyrene, named Simon” — Simon, from N. Africa, is known in the community of believers.
“The place of the skull” — a skull-like rocky place, or place of previous executions — or both.
35-37 When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Two rebels were crucified with Him, one on His right and one on His left. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Come down from the cross, if You are the Son of God!”
41-43 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
“Let God rescue Him” — “let God deliver Him”, allusion to Psalm 22:8.
44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.
“Rebels… crucified with Him” — “numbered with the transgressors,” Isaiah 53:12, Luke 22:37.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”).
“Why have You forsaken Me?” — Jesus had to experience the full extent of God’s wrath (holy requirement for justice) for the sins of humanity.
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48-49 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave Him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.
“Cried out” — the victory of “It is finished!”, John 19:30. Jesus had completed His purpose in coming into the world and had settled the redemption charge for the sin of all mankind.
51-53 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
“Curtain” — remarkably the tremor tore the woven barrier separating the Holy of Holies in the Temple. At this point, the order of priesthood ended. Through Jesus every believer could now enter into God’s presence needing no intermediary.
• For further study, see Ephesians 2:11-22; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 9:1-10:25.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!”
“Terrified” — by the earthquake, and the prisoner like no other.
SUMMARY Every facet of what Jesus took on Himself is made clear: false accusation, shame, brutality at the whipping post and dying a cursed death while taunted by mockers.
APPLICATION Jesus knew He as a sinless human being had to satisfy the legal remedy of justice, or wrath, for His Father — the price for us to know Him as Saviour and as Lord.
QUESTION Should we be in sorrow for the pain, or joy and praise for what Jesus did for us?
Philippians 2:5-11 — How God took on human flesh as man in Jesus
• The servant shamefully executed is now honoured as Lord of heaven and earth
5-7 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
“Being in very nature God” — contrasts Jesus’ divine pre-existence with His “making Himself nothing” as human empowered by the Holy Spirit. We continue His ministry by the same enabling.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
“Even death on a cross” — voluntarily submitting to the most shameful of deaths for a Jew, coming under a curse from God on our behalf, Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13.
9-11 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“Jesus Christ is Lord” — “Lord” refers to the right to rule. Disciples of Jesus “bow the knee” by living lives under His Lordship.
SUMMARY Jesus made Himself nothing, resulting in being given heaven’s highest honour. The realisation of who He is and how He went about saving us, transforms every relationship.
APPLICATION Calling Jesus our Lord is not, ultimately about obedience. That is being a Pharisee. It is about loving who He is so much, that our strong desire is to grow like Him.
QUESTION How do we go about having the same mindset as Jesus?
PRAYER Father, in all these passages from Your word we hear You reminding us about the humble obedience of Your Son and what He has done for us, who receive Him as Saviour. And in deep awe we reflect on the majesty of that short title “Lord”. We quietly receive Your indescribable grace and give our lives again to Jesus, Saviour and Lord. Amen.