From Shame to Victory

  • Posted on: 1 May 2016
  • By: Chris Strevel

From Shame to Victory

Isaiah 53:9-12


Monday: Dead and Buried, But Sinless

“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” ~ Isa. 53:9

            Each time we witness a burial or go the cemetery we should think, “This is the wages of sin.”  Though the surrounding landscape by beautiful and the service moving, sin’s shame confronts us. All those rotting shells under our feet were once alive. All are now degraded, corrupted, and buried by sin.

            This would be a comfortless picture had not our Savior humbled himself to be buried for us. Taking our curse upon him, he also suffered its shame. To be buried was far worse for him than for us. He is the Lord of life. He made the ground, but he also made his grave with the wicked. For us he became a condemned criminal before God. He allowed himself to be swallowed by the dust of our death.

             There was also an oddity in his burial, something that indicated there was more to his sufferings than shame. He was not thrown in a pit but lovingly if hastily prepared for burial and with honor placed in a rich man’s tomb. His Father accorded him this special dignity to testify that his burial was different. His burial, like his sufferings, was not as it seemed.

            Perhaps we should even say that his burial began to turn back the shadow on shame and to shine the first rays of his glory. Unlike every other man who has ever been buried, he was sinless. Never was he angry without a cause. He had done violence to no man but went about doing good. His every word was pure and true. There was not a hint of deceit in him. His burial reveals both the depths to which he sank for us and the honor his Father bestowed upon him for being his righteous Servant.

            When it comes time for our death and burial, these two things will also be true of us. On the one hand, we shall suffer the shame of being buried. Our sins have made us criminals against God’s majesty. Yet, since Jesus is our surety, he removed sin’s reproach. Like him, we will be sown in weakness but raised in honor.  

            The funeral service of a believer, therefore, is a time for tears and rejoicing. We are not buried “as those who have no hope.” Our Savior saved us by his burial as he did by his death. He buried sin’s reproach and condemnation with him. When he arose, he left our shame in the tomb. Never forget, believer, that the sting of death is pulled for you. Jesus took it into his own holy breast and suffered all the reproach of our sins so that we might be raised and honored in him.

            Since he has suffered for us, let us live unto him. Even facing death, we look upon it as a conquered enemy. We weep at the tomb, for nothing is more unnatural than death. But we shall see Jesus, and no man will take our joy from us. Until then, let us look to our once-buried Savior. He entered the tomb to bury our curse and left it to raise us up. He is alive, making all things new.. His life in us is the seed of everlasting life and honor with him.

Tuesday: Bruised and Put to Grief

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief” ~ Isa. 53:10

            In the farthest reaches of eternity, we shall sing and wonder at God’s love in bruising his Son for us. His Son was his Beloved, yet he put him to grief. He made his Son sick with our sins so that we might be made healthy by his obedience. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son for us. Praise him, praise him!

            The holy God was under no external necessity to love or save us. He was certainly not bound to bruise his Son in our place. Because he is rich in mercy and for his great love, he determined to save us. It pleased him to save us. It was pleasing to his justice to provide a substitute for sinners and a satisfaction to his offended righteousness. It was pleasing to his love to show mercy to sinners. It pleased him to make his Son our surety, to crush him instead of crushing us. It was pleasing to him to be just and the justifier of his people.

            It is a wonder that God has made his pleasure known to us. He allows us into the holiest ground of his love and justice. He would not have us think of Calvary as a cold transaction. At the cross, he made known to us the pleasure he takes in his justice and the pleasure he takes in his love. Righteousness and peace kissed each other there. Salvation for sinners was secured by the embrace.

            Yet, it was his Beloved that he crushed and put to grief. He was not angry at his Son. With the blood of his Son flowing to cleanse sinners, divine pleasure and love were also flowing. He poured out upon him the pains of death and the sorrows of hell, but he also took great delight in his suffering Servant. Jesus’ obedience pleased the Father. His blood pleased the Father. That it was his Son humbling himself unto death pleased him. This was no malicious pleasure but the pleasure of love and holiness and justice meeting together to provide salvation for sinners. The Father forsook the Son, but he also accepted his offering for sin.

            Think well on this scene, child of God. Ask the Spirit of truth to engrave it so deeply upon your heart that you feel God’s smile upon you in the pleasure he took in afflicting his Son for sinners. Never forget the Savior’s wounds in which God took pleasure. They are your salvation. They are the peace of your soul. They are your key to heaven. Jesus’ bruising is your cleansing. Make him your boast.

            In a world run amok in frivolity and fleeting pleasure, fear and frustration, remember this solid pleasure that God took in the bruises of his Son. Be sobered by them. Learn what is important by coming often to Jesus, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world. Take pleasure in his wounds by kissing the Son with adoring fear. Be cleansed in them. Confess and love Jesus, fight against sin, and adore the Lamb of God. Let God’s pleasure in righteousness and love set your heart ablaze with a holy desire to pursue righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  

Wednesday: Sacrifice unto Victory

“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” ~ Isa. 53:10

            What does the soul need when it awakens each morning? What will free the conscience from the guilt and impotence of dead works so that God is served with joy? Perhaps disturbing thoughts made the night darker. A day of work and trial must be met with cheerful resolve. Does the day look bleak with loneliness? Much within us disturbs our peace. Life’s circumstances can be a heavy burden.

            Would you have joy and peace? Jesus offers them to you now. “That they might have my joy fulfilled in them” (John 17:13). “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Joy comes from assurance of a reconciled God. It is God at peace with us that gives us peace with him. Assurance of a reconciled God brightens life’s somber hues and gives us abundant reason for thankfulness and hope in all seasons and circumstances.

            God made his Son an offering for sin. His death on the cross was a full and sufficient trespass offering for our sins and their guilt. He offered his sinless soul in place of our defiled life. He was no unthinking offering for sin but felt each stroke and tasted every drop of the cup of judgment he drained. This is the offering that brings peace to the soul. It is the key that turns the lock of conscience to let it go free and clean because divine justice is satisfied. By his one offering, we are perfected (Heb. 10:14). God has established peace between him and us. He dares anyone to try to break it (Rom. 8:33)! Our Father smiles upon us because we are reconciled to him through the death of his Son.

            Rejoice, child of God, that we can cease bringing our petty offerings of “I’ll try to do better today!” There is no “better” in us, but there is righteousness and cleansing in Jesus. Begin each day bringing this offering to the Father. Bring forward Jesus; this is the offering God accepts. The Father loves the Son, and when we pray to be forgiven in his name, fountains of promised mercy flow upon us. This is not because we are good but because God respects his Son’s offering for us. The Father loves the Son for laying down his life in obedience to his decree. The Father will accept, love, and bless all who come to him clinging only to Jesus. This is his promise. It cannot be broken.

            Jesus Christ our sin offering is now alive. He will see his seed. Dead men do not see. He was dead, but he is alive forevermore. His days are prolonged and will endure forever (Ps. 89:29). They endure at the right hand of God, where he secures our place and assures our acceptance. They endure as he rules in the midst of his enemies, guaranteeing that we shall not be lost, his church built beautiful, that no circumstance or trial will shake us from our Jesus. They endure as he shepherds us in the paths of righteousness so that we learn his joy of obedience.

            As the Father took pleasure in bruising him, his pleasure now prospers in the life and reign of his Son. In the hand of Jesus, all is calm and bright. Trials there are, and we shall feel them, else the cross we bear would not be a cross. But there is success in this cross-bearing. Our momentary afflictions are working an eternal weight of glory. Endured by faith in the Son of God, they are working crowns for us, crowns that we shall cast at Jesus’ feet.

            Expect for God’s pleasure in righteousness, peace, and joy to prosper in your life, for your life is now Jesus’ life. We have been crucified and raised with him. It is Christ that lives in us (Gal. 2:20). The more you abide in him, the more his work will advance in your life. He will manifest himself to you (John 14:21). He will give you his joy and peace. This is the Father’s good pleasure, and it is prospering in the hand of his Son, in whom he is well-pleased. The Father is well-pleased with you through his Son. Rejoice!

Thursday: Our Savior Satisfied

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” ~ Isa. 53:11

            Being absorbed with ourselves, it is difficult for us to consider Jesus’ saving work on the cross from his perspective. He did not, however, pass through this horror without feeling and deep personal interest in all he was enduring and accomplishing. Remember that the plan of redemption was his, as much as the Father’s, and he always had an eye to its outcome.

            What could possibly have motivated him to suffer such shame as to be made sin for us? How could he endure being forsaken by his Father and having the sword of divine justice strike him down in place of sinners? He had his Father’s promise. His death would be fruitful to accomplish all the ends ordained by God. His sacrifice would be sufficient to deal definitively with sin and death. He would bring in everlasting righteousness. He would be satisfied.

            We must never forget that it was his delight to please his Father, and he wanted to please him completely. He would leave nothing undone in the fulfillment of his Father’s will. “The cup that the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” “Not my will, but thine be done.” Thus, he did not passively endure his sufferings but actively sought to obey his Father while on the cross. As it pleased the Father to bruise him, so we must say that it pleased our Lord to be bruised in our place.

            But the travail of his soul was nonetheless dreadful. We can barely speak of it. His sinless soul becoming sin for us as our substitute was abhorrent to him. The physical pain and exhaustion were dreadful. He was kept on his course by love for the Father and the joy set before him. He wanted to rejoice in the God of his salvation, his Father.

            He is now satisfied with his work. Can there be any more beautiful or soul-settling declaration for us. If Jesus is satisfied with the redemption he has purchased for us, truly nothing is left to be done. It is finished. Everlasting righteousness has been established. Peace has been secured. His prayer will be answered: all that the Father gave him will be with him where he is. We shall see his glory and rejoice in him forever – because Jesus is satisfied.

            In the knowledge of his fully sufficient atonement, he will justify many. Merely human mediators and the whole cabal of Romish priests can never know if enough has been done to satisfy God. Jesus knows. As the God-man our Mediator, he knows. And he brings his knowledge to bear with power upon us, so that what he knows, conscience accepts. Jesus’ obedience and death are sufficient. They are sufficient to obtain our redemption and forgiveness. They will be sufficient for us when we stand before God. We can rest in him as our righteousness because the satisfied Savior justifies us.

            In this lies relief for wavering consciences. Yes, we have many sins, but Jesus is our satisfied sacrifice and justifies us through his obedience. To his satisfaction, we need add nothing. We must instead look to him in faith. God is satisfied with us because the Lamb of God is. He owns us as his children. He looks upon his pierced hands and his pierced side. He remembers the grief of his soul when he was made an offering for sin. It is finished. It is sufficient. In the ageless reaches of eternity, it will be sufficient, as he looks upon his multitude of justified one and rejoices in them.

             Rejoice, weary sinner, in your satisfied Savior. You are rightly dissatisfied with yourself, your attainments, your sins, and your halting obedience. These are grief to your soul. Look upon the Savior this moment. Remember that he is satisfied. He has paid it all. He has brought righteousness to you. He has justified you and righteousness is yours as a free gift. You are forgiven. Ask. Plead only the satisfied Jesus. And remember to rejoice. We can be happy and holy in the assurance that our Savior is. He is delighted with what he has done for us. His smile is our salvation. Make his joy your song as you fight against sin and carry forward on this pilgrim path. His joy will be fulfilled in you as you walk with him.

Friday: Conquering Now

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” ~ Isa. 53:12

            We must have a king to rule over us. Wicked men never rest until they have plotted some ruin for the righteous, some insult to God. Too weak we are to resist them. Sometimes we join their war against God by our unbelief. We have lost our strength by sinning.

            Jesus Christ is now King of kings. Pleased with his Son, the Father the divided him a portion with the great and a spoil with the strong. This is the language of warfare; it is the language of victory. The Father has given all rule and authority into the hand of his Son. As hard as it is to accept this, no one lifts a finger on this globe apart from the will of Jesus Christ. He will have the preeminence in all things.

            The reign of Jesus is inseparable from his sufferings. He poured out his soul unto death. He completely emptied himself of all his glory as God in order to be made sin for us. He was shamed, being numbered with the transgressors, crucified between two malefactors, and identified with us sinners. He bore our sins. Never was there any sorrow like his sorrow, any sufferings like his, as the Father laid upon him our iniquity, the full tally of our stripes, the total horror of hell.

            By this, he was making intercession for us. He interposed between God’s holiness and our filth, God’s justice and our curse. Can there be any doubt that he is only Mediator between God and man? Only as God were his sufferings sufficient and worthy. Only as God could he make intercession with God for sinners and succeed. Only as man could he pay the full cost of our iniquities, endure the hell we deserve, and do it all in our flesh, in our place. Look to him and be saved.

            His humiliation is over. He bears the stigmata of his sufferings. They are his badges of victory, a victory obtained by passing through the darkest valley of the shadow of death. He will prevail. Many are his enemies, but from age to age more glorious his word shall prevail. The gospel sword coming out of his mouth is irresistible. It either heals where it falls, or kills. There is no middle ground.

            You have a King, child of God, and his name is Jesus. You are secure under his scepter. He will cause righteousness and justice to flourish in his reign. Remember that his victory is the fruit of his humiliation. Like him, to share in his victory, you must humble yourself. The first call of discipleship rings clear through the ages. “If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” It rings the more loudly now that he is exalted. To enjoy the reign of the King, we must walk as he walked. Let us do so without delay, for he is lifting up his head from the brook, looking for a foe to crush, a friend to help. He will not fail or be disappointed. Call upon him. He rose and reigns to save you.

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