Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent: Day 11

Yesterday we looked at the Great Commission given by the Father to the Son. In it, the Father commits the Son to die for His people and the Son takes that commission. That means that many of the prophecies about Jesus are not going to be happy prophecies. One of the saddest tells us that the Servant—the Messiah—will be a suffering servant:
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
7 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.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    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?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53:1-12)
He was despised, rejected, pierced, bruised, and God laid on Him our iniquities. That was the plan for the incarnation of Jesus. It was the plan when God the Father commission God the Son (Is. 49), and Jesus willingly took on the responsibility.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism calls this the "humiliation" of Christ. It asks in question #27, "Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?" and it answers, "Christ's humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time." Even becoming man was part of this suffering that Jesus was commissioned by God to take. The incarnation, the glorious event that we celebrate at Christmas, was a humiliation for Jesus. Paul tells us that Jesus "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Php. 2:5-11) He gave up the glorious riches of heaven and became one of us, and not just one of us but a servant for us. He voluntarily subjected Himself to the miseries of this life, leaving the perfection of heaven. Paul also calls this the grace of Jesus: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich." (2 Co. 8:9) This is the true meaning of Christmas—that Jesus became poor so we, by His poverty, might become rich.

By His Grace,

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