Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Humiliation of Jesus

Part 3 of Born to Die


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 (v. 7).

How was Jesus like a lamb? First, a lamb is an animal of submission. A lamb is quietly "led to the slaughter" because it doesn't know what is going to happen. Jesus, on the other hand, was not an unwilling victim. Luke 9:51 says, "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Jesus knew that He would be crucified in Jerusalem, but He went there anyway.

When Jesus stood before the high priest, Pilate, and Herod, He did not try to defend Himself. "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'"” (Matthew 26:62-63a). "And Pilate again asked him, 'Have you an answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.' But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed" (Mark 15:4-5). "When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer" (Luke 23:8-9).

Second, a lamb was an animal of sacrifice. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

In Genesis 22, God told Abraham, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering" (v. 2). As Abraham and his son Isaac were traveling, Isaac asked, "Where is the lamb?" (Genesis 22:7). He was unaware that God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Once they arrived at the place for the offering, Abraham revealed to Isaac the sad news. Isaac was placed on the altar, but just as Abraham was about to kill his son, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me" (v. 12). Then "Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son" (v. 13).

Abraham's son was spared, but God's Son was not. "For God so loved, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus is the provided lamb who took our place on the cross. When John the Baptist saw Jesus he declared, "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).


Verses 7-9 foretell the unjust suffering of the Servant:
  • His trial. By oppression and judgment he was taken away (v. 8a; also v. 7).
  • His execution. And as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? (v. 8b). "And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his life" (Mark 15:27).
  • His burial. And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death (v. 9a). "When it was the evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away" (Matthew 27:57-60).
  • His innocence. Although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit found in his mouth (v. 9b). He was innocent both in deed and in word. "He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:22-23).


What is the true spirit of Christmas? The word "spirit" can mean "a special attitude or frame of mind." The apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 NIV). What is the "attitude" of Christ Jesus? "Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (vv. 6-8). Jesus allowed Himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter so that He could die for our sins.

At the core of sinfulness is self-centeredness. We want to be praised and pleased. But Jesus was humiliated and crucified...willingly.

The true spirit of Christmas is humble self-sacrifice.

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