Meditations on Our Savior

  • Posted on: 20 March 2016
  • By: Chris Strevel

Meditations on our Savior

Isaiah 50:4-9

 

Monday: Our Awakened Savior

 

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” ~ Isa. 50:4

 

            Sin lulls us into a deadly slumber. Our Judge stands at the door, but we take sleeping potions: worldliness, more sinning, promises of reformation later, complaining against God, our circumstances, the government – whatever and whoever to stay asleep. The alarm of conscience rings, but we hit the snooze button and roll over. A few more minutes of this pleasant slumber.

            Jesus Christ came to call the dead out of their graves. As our Mediator, he received from the Father “the tongue of the learned.” He is the wisdom of God, and his word gives life. He speaks with power. He knows how to speak the right word to the weary disciple. Do we need encouragement? A strong rebuke? As burdened pilgrims, do we need to hear, “One more leg of the journey, dear friend, and rest is around the corner; and I am your rest who carries you?” He speaks what we need.

            Morning by morning his ears are awakened to the will of his Father. Protect this sheep especially today; prepare this congregation for a season of affliction; preserve this mother from despair and frustration, for she is weary of her domestic watch. Everything that he heard from the Father, he makes known to us through his word (John 15:15). Go to him and ask him to awaken you to the Father’s will and to make you willing to believe and obey in this day of his power.

            Rejoice, weary believer, that our Savior is awake and will do everything necessary to bring you home to him. He watches over us with unceasing vigilance. He was painfully awake to our crimes, the demands of justice against us, and the necessity of obedience. By obeying unto death, he has made righteousness and peace kiss. He will never lose one for whom he died. When you feel sleepiness settling over your soul, sin trying to entomb you again, then is the time especially to run to Jesus. Confess that you have more in common with the foolish than the wise virgins. Ask him to teach you his ways that you may walk in his paths. When you awaken each morning, call upon him. When you are weary, cast yourself upon him – not an idea about him, a wistful hope that he might help you, but upon him as your Lord and Savior.

            He is our surety and our helper. He is thoroughly awake to our needs, our struggles, and the glory that is coming. He is “Christ the wisdom and the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). Trust him. Yield yourself to him. We may carry the cross and feel its weight, but he carries us and pledges to come to our aid. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).

 

Tuesday: Our Obedient Savior

 

“The Lord God hath opened mine ears, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” ~ Isa. 50:5

 

            Who can understand his errors? If the Lord marked iniquity, who could stand?  Hosea said that Judah’s righteousness dried up as quickly as the morning dew. Are our resolutions to be godlier any more enduring? Have we not often confused fleeting sentiment with true sanctification, regret with lasting repentance? Many have been our seasons of promise to God; few have been our seasons of faithfulness. Our backslidings have been many. We have not restrained our feet from evil.

            There is one who does not share our inconstancy! Our Savior’s ears were completely opened to his Father’s word. He always did those things that pleased his Father. He once challenged the Pharisees, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” Our salvation is sure because he was not rebellious against one word of his Father. He did not shrink back from suffering our weakness, enduring our temptations, or draining the cup of the Father’s just wrath against sin. Because he knew no sin, he was able to offer himself without spot to God on our behalf. His sacrifice for us was penal, substitutionary, and effectual. “For by one sacrifice he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). In Jesus Christ, sin and death are finished.

            Our ears are a reflection of our heart. We are born with plugged ears because corruption closes them against God. When God unplugs them and breaks the death-hold of our corruption, we feel a tension within us. We know God’s word but struggle to keep it. We want to do good, but evil constantly assails us. We hate evil, but find ourselves doing it. This is true of the best of Christians. What are we to do when we feel our wretchedness? Paul felt it deeply. He faced the demon of sin within him as few have. He praised God for giving him victory through Jesus Christ.

            Why did he shout for victory? Because he would never sin or struggle again? No. He looked to Jesus Christ. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:23). “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Herein lies our salvation. Jesus Christ has opened ears. He obeyed God perfectly. He delighted to do God’s will, and God’s law was in his heart (Ps. 40:8). He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him. He killed the law’s condemnation that was killing us by keeping the law perfectly and suffering on the cross as the sinless Lamb of God.

            In him also lies our sanctification. Jesus Christ can open our ears! They will not be perfectly opened in this life, but the same Spirit by which he offered himself to God writes upon our hearts God’s law so that we can truly delight in it. This is not because we keep it perfectly, even well, but because our hearts have been changed. No longer stony and rebellious are we, but redeemed and made new in Christ.

            Ask him to open your ears, to show you where they remain plugged, where you are yet rebellious. Do not be afraid to pray this. He will show you many things about yourself that you might prefer not to know. He has sounded the depths of our corruption. When we see a glimpse of it, let us not despair but look to him whose ears were opened and turned not away from God. He is our Savior. He will never forsake those who call upon him. He will never turn back from saving us. Praise him! Praise him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer!

 

Wednesday: Our Disgraced Savior

 

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” ~Isa. 50:6

 

            Behold what our salvation cost the Son of God! He must be beaten, disgraced, and spit upon. Divine justice demands man’s blood as the wages of man’s sin. Had all these sufferings fallen upon us, they would have been but the just dessert of our rebellion. There would be no merit in them. They would make us worse and add to the weight of our iniquity. The Son of God looked upon our dead and lost state with pity. He bore our stripes and suffered our shame. The sinless One satisfied divine justice in our place. He had to do so in order to redeem us. Having decided to save us, no other course was open to God but to lay upon his sinless Servant the iniquity of us all. Righteousness and peace must kiss.

            In his sufferings, we have a vivid picture of sin’s disgrace and curse. It should have been our backs beaten in hell forever. Jesus Christ was brought so low as to be spit upon because our sins had brought us so low. But spit upon? Herod’s soldiers did this to him. Our sins have earned us the spit of heaven. Not a flattering picture, to be sure, with all the corpse beautification projects ongoing in the deluded city of man. Is not man a worthy creature, perfectible, at least improvable?

            Look again. See him willingly give his back to the smiters. The soldiers beat him mercilessly, but their “cat of nine tails” was nothing in comparison to divine justice falling upon his sinless soul. Still, he felt man’s blows. He had to feel and endure them; the last drop of God’s cup of wrath against sinners must be drained. Had he not been beaten and disgraced, we should certainly feel hell, God’s just, exact, unrelenting blows forever. To love Jesus Christ and follow him, we must understand that he was taking our blows. Adore the disgraced Savior, child of God. Thank him with a holy, believing life.

            Having one’s beard and hair pulled out is painful and to be spit upon are personal insults not to be born. He bore ours. The sinless One was insulted by sinners to atone for our sins. Shall we ever be broken over sin, repent unto reformation, enflamed with zeal for the gospel and love for our Savior unless we see what a shameful thing sin is? What grief our sins brought the Son of God! Sin insults God’s majesty. Every sin spits in his holy face. Our Savior had to be so vilely treated because our sins are vile. He had to take upon himself our vileness. It is unwise and unthankful to lessen the reality of sin’s shame. We should hang our heads at these words. Our hearts should be broken. We should stand in awe that the Son of God would humble himself to this length in order to redeem us. We must love and adore him.

            Each time you are tempted to sin, want to sin, remember the blows that fell upon our Redeemer. Remember the spit dripping down from his bloody face. Remember that this was your pain and shame that he bore alone that night. He opened not his mouth. He offered no objection to being treated in this way. He did this for us. He loved us to the end, even when that end was shame and spitting. Do not spit upon him or disgrace him further by sin. Hate sin, and love the Savior. These are the Christians two themes. Since we continue to sin, we must return again and again to his disgrace and claim his obedience unto death as the sole ground of our forgiveness. Christians never stray far from the cross. It is their boast.

            It is hard to look upon his disgrace, even knowing the glory that is now his. Look we must, or we shall find it too easy to sin. The gospel of a crucified Savior will never take hold upon our affections or seize our minds with wonder. We never truly know ourselves as sinners or feel the glory of being redeemed unless we remember his disgrace. By his disgrace, he took away ours. Sinners remain disgraced unless they believe upon his name and kiss by faith his once-bloodied back and spit-drenched face. He endured these horrors for us, because he loved us, because the cost of our redemption was his shame.

 

Thursday: Our Determined Savior

 

“For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” ~ Isa. 50:7

 

            In the midst of our Savior’s shame, he trusted that he would not be confounded or ashamed. Little did that mocking crowd at the foot of the cross know how truly they spoke: “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him” (Ps. 22:8: Matt. 27:43). Engulfed with our blows and shame, the sorrows of hell and the terrors of death, he trusted God. Feeling the full weight of sin’s judicial separation from the holy God, he nonetheless nurtured in his sinless soul the confidence that he would be vindicated.

            Whence this assurance and trust? Our burdens are light in comparison to the Suffering-Servant of the Lord, yet we doubt and chafe under the slightest afflictions. Jesus Christ knew the Scriptures. “The wages of sin is death,” and he must pay them if his sheep are to be redeemed. He also knew: “He shall see his seed, and shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall proper in his hand” (Isa. 53:10). “For thou will not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life” (Ps. 16:10-11).

            He lived by these words, and he went to the cross trusting that his Father’s word would be realized. He must be crushed for sinners, but he must also rise and be vindicated for sinners. God’s promises armed his soul against man’s malice, Satan’s deceptions, and the cup of wrath he drank. He set his face like flint. Hard as granite was our Savior’s resolve. Why did he not turn back from such a death? In the Garden of Gethsemane he pled for the cup to pass away. The promises came to his mind. Joyful determination returned to do his Father’s will. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

            Consider the cost of his determination. His face like flint brought him face to face with the full weight of divine wrath against our sin. His determination, however, did not make his pain any less real, his sufferings any less horrible. His determination opened his back to dreadful blows, his face to shame and spitting, and his body to the cursed cross. His determination made his soul an offering for sin, numbered him with the transgressors, and brought him to grief. Absolutely nothing would stop him from draining the cup of divine wrath and laying down his life to bear the judgment of condemned sinners.

            Come to the determined Savior, O sinner! He was not ashamed of his sufferings. They are effectual to blot out all your crimes before the holy Judge. They obtain your cleansing and forgiveness; nothing else can or will. Are you ashamed of a suffering Savior? Unwilling to speak of him to your friends and family? Dabbling with sin? When you come to him, he will forgive your inconstancy, as he forgave Peter’s. In place of your wavering will, he will begin to form in you his determination to please God. Then, you will have joy and peace in life and boldness in the day of judgment. Let your first resolve be to come to Jesus, and he will give you rest from sin and its shame.

 

Friday: Our Justified Savior

 

“He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.” ~ Isa. 50:8-9

 

            We should treasure every insight that the Holy Spirit gives us into our Savior’s inner life. “He is near.” How can this be? Was Jesus Christ not acutely aware of being forsaken by his Father? Did not his blows, shame, and spitting bear witness that the Father was crushing him, treating him as the vilest offender? And yet, our Lord was also confident that his Father was near. Strange, saving combination of sentiments: forsaken but near to God, condemned but justified.

            Our Lord was forsaken judicially by his Father. He bore our sins “outside the camp.” As our sinless substitute and appointed mediator, he also offered himself without spot to God. He knew that his sacrifice would be accepted. He would be justified. Did he need to be declared righteous? Yes, and this is one of the most precious gospel lines in Scripture. Our Head and Savior was justified. His sacrifice for his sheep was declared sufficient, his obedience perfect, and his blood accepted. Because he was justified, we can be justified by faith in him.

            Let Satan roar and deceive. Let blind, evil tormentors and accusers lay their foul lies to his charge, but he would prevail. How could he say this while feeling at the same time the horrors of being forsaken by his Father? He was the appointed Servant of the Lord. His stripes were not for his sin but ours. He was the scapegoat so that we would be set free, redeemed by his blood.

            No one could lay a charge against him. They tried. “This man said he was the Son of God.” “He said he would rebuild God’s temple in three days.” “He claims to be the rightful King.” True, all true were the charges of his adversaries. He was not condemned before his Father on account of these but for our transgressions. After being made an offering for sin, he would be justified by his Father. All his enemies and ours would be eaten by moths, folded up and cast away like a worn-out coat.

            Sinner, do you not often lay many charges against yourself? The charges of men against us are very trivial in comparison to the charges of the soul against itself. Regrets about past sins and omission of current duty are plagues upon the soul. Let us look to the Justified One, Jesus Christ. Bring all your charges to him and watch them die there. He is your satisfaction, your righteousness. His sacrifice has fully propitiated the justice that would fall upon you had he not stepped into the breech.

            Leave your charges at the feet of Jesus by believing upon his name. Do not look away from him. Do not trust your attempts at self-improvement, your promises to be a better person tomorrow. All moths that will burn up in the scrutinizing light of conscience. How much more when you are measured by the standards of God’s righteousness? Jesus was measured in our place. He did no sin. There was no evil in his mouth. Look to him and be declared righteous. Be admitted to God’s favor and take your place among the company of the thankful redeemed and joyfully obedient. 

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