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Summary: Isaiah 53 the Suffering Servant passage looked upon as though we were seeing it as a painting on display in an art gallery. Suitable for communion.

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ADDRESS: THE PORTRAIT IN THE GALLERY - Isaiah 52:13-53:12

INTRO

The unfolding events of Tuesday morning –

Who would have thought what the day would bring

First attack – Bewilderment

Second attack – horror

Third attack – immense shock and panic

Powerful images

Watching the news has been compulsive viewing.

We have seen the same shocking images time and time again.

The world has yet to emerge from the shock of what has happened. Yet already there are the other reactions of anger, despair, questioning and blaming.

POINT It is at times like this that people ask questions about the love and power of God.

Why did God allow this to happen? Some will ask.

There may be no easy answers to this question, but what we do know is:

THESIS God Himself knows suffering enough to be able to care.

POINT Flicking through our newspapers we may have found horrific images.

Flicking through the Bible we find them too.

POINT *This morning we are going to take a look at one of the most powerful of all. It lies in the centre of God’s picture gallery. It takes the form of a song. In the song, God is first to speak.

God has an incredible story to tell. It is all summed up in a picture. God himself tells something of the story, and then he invites us in to see the picture.

(POINT - The reading is Hebrew poetry - not rhyming, but parallels - Note the parallels as we read)

READING Is 52:13-53:12

POINT When I read this passage I imagine it to be like the unveiling of a new portrait drawn for the people. The portrait is that of the Servant of the Lord. Everyone in the crowd is waiting for the portrait to be unveiled (like a new portrait of the Queen). Then the moment arrives and the cover is taken away.

POINT This is not unlike what we have here.

As soon as the portrait is unveiled there is the gasp heard among the crowd – one of shock.

and a SUCCESSION OF RESPONSES:

1. APPALLED - The Portrait Unveiled 52:13-14

IMAGINE

Such pictures should never be shown, we think. The sight is horrific:

It is like a mural - It tells its own story. There are several parts to the picture, but the part that draws our attention most of all is the picture of an intensely tortured body.

The picture is of a Suffering Servant

The Suffering

The form of a person, hardly recognisable as human, so severe has the beating been:

‘disfigured beyond that of any man --- his form marred beyond human likeness’

[Hundreds of wounds through many beatings]

Words used ‘Despised, smitten, pierced, afflicted, crushed’

The Scourge = A whip of several strands of leather with pieces of metal and sharp bone tied into it.

Flogged until his body was wealed and lacerated as one great bruise.

QUOTE from Questions of Life – Nicky Gumbell p48

APPLIC To empathise is to imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s position. To sympathise is to have experienced it yourself.

Jesus is able to sympathise!

2. ASTONISHED - The Portrait Described 53:1-4

POINT

The response of the witnesses turns from being appalled to astonished.

‘Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?


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