Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Exaltation of Jesus

Part 4 of Born to Die

AMAZING LOVE

The suffering of the Servant proves that God loves us. How? First, the cross was planned by the Father. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief (v. 10a). If you are a parent, imagine sacrificing your child for the benefit of others. Could you do it? Honestly, I don't know how I could do it.

Immediately after the sin of Adam and Eve, God began to reveal His plan of salvation. He said to Satan (after He had tempted Eve to sin), "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15). This prophecy is sometimes called the protoevangelium, which means "first gospel." Many Christians believe the reference to "her Seed" looks beyond Adam and Eve to Mary and Jesus. The seed of the woman (Jesus) would crush the head of Satan. It's as if God was saying to Satan, "You’ll do something bad to Him, but He’ll do something worse to you!" Satan, through the wicked actions of man, would bruise the Savior's heel, but through the cross, Satan's head would be crushed (his doom would be sealed).

After His resurrection, Jesus said to two of His followers, "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26). Peter spoke of the necessity of the suffering of Christ when he declared to the people of Jerusalem, "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23).

Second, the cross brought satisfaction to Christ. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied (v. 11a). The sacrifice of Christ was for God’s glory and our good. This is the reason for Jesus' satisfaction.

In verses 10-12, we find six reasons why Jesus died for us. (1) He died to act as our substitute. He bore the sin of many (v. 12). (2) He died to act as our mediator. [He] makes intercession for the transgressors (v. 12). (3) He died to make us innocent before God. By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous (v. 11). (4) He died to make us children of God. He shall see his offspring (v. 10). (5) He died to conquer death for us. He shall prolong his days (v. 10). The apostle Paul may have been thinking of Isaiah 53 when he wrote, "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). (6) He died to share His victory with us. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong (v. 12). The imagery is that of a conqueror sharing his victory with his allies. "Therefore" reminds us of the "therefore" in Philippians 2:9: "Therefore God has highly exalted him." In Isaiah 53, Jesus is "a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (v. 7). But in the book of Revelation, He is the Lamb on the throne of heaven (5:6).

Jesus’ enemies accused Him of being a "friend of sinners" (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). But if He wasn’t a friend of sinners, there would be no hope for us. Jesus was identified with sinners ("numbered with the transgressors"), died for sinners ("bore the sin of many"), and intercedes for sinners ("makes intercession for the transgressors"). From the cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

To the people of His day, Jesus was was seen as a failure. His life ended in crucifixion. They assumed that He had lived a futile life. But in reality, His life was the most fruitful life ever lived. Verse 10 says He will have many descendants ("he shall see his offspring"); He will live a long life ("he shall prolong his days"); and He will accomplish God’s plan for His life ("the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand").

THE PERFECT GIFT

Christmas gifts usually only provide temporary joy. A few years ago, my wife and I bought a digital camera for around $300. A couple of days later, it was dropped and broken.

No Christmas gift can compare to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. What should we do with this perfect gift? (1) Accept it. (2) Share it. (3) Cherish it. Be devoted to Giver of salvation.