Summary: Final 2009 Sermon/Communion Meditation
(Slide 1) This morning, we move from the manger backwards to the prophet Isaiah, and ironically, forward to the cross and the tomb.
Our text for this morning is longer than normal for two specific purposes. One is to have us focus on the baby in the manger unrecognized as the suffering servant. This is the true purpose for which Jesus Christ came.
The second is to read and hear the scriptures at a slower pace than we are used to hearing them read and heard. I have recently started with the daily segment of the Psalms that I read a practice of reading them aloud and slower than I have done. It is hard to do because I am a fast reader and it is easy to zip through reading the Bible and not really chew on it.
In your bulletin, this morning is a blank half sheet of paper. It is for you to use as I read the text. As you read along or simply close your eyes and listen (something that I encourage you to do this morning) use your inner eyes to picture Christ and His suffering; use your inner ear to listen to the sounds of what He experiences; and use your inner smell to grasp the pain and death He faces. Write down what stands out to you as you read, listen, and experience the scriptures this morning.
Let us first pause for some moments of silence and prayer:
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him—beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.
Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.
(Silence for a few moments.)
(Slide 2) Let us prepare for communion with a time of personal confession and preparation. Amen