Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 April 21, 2019
“The Gospel of the Evangelist Isaiah (Part 2)”
(An earlier version of this sermon was preached at Sylvania EPC; upper Lonoke County, Arkansas; April 24, 2011)
How glad it to say, with full confidence in what we say, that Christ is risen—Christ is risen indeed! We expand on that glorious thought today as we look at today’s text—a text that Matthew Henry called the Gospel of the evangelist Isaiah. Last week, in looking at Jesus’ sufferings, we focused specially on the shadow side. We’ll look at them again today, but this week we focus upon the sunny side—Jesus’ resurrection and His attendant glory. We’ll see how those sufferings, rather than detract from His glory, actually heighten it. We’ll also see what His suffering and His glory mean for us as well. To the text, then, and let us hear what God says to us in His Word
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We direct our gaze today to the bookend stanzas of this Isianic Gospel (Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:10-12). In particular, we emphasize the final three verses of Isaiah 53. There we read a shocking thing: It was the will of the Father to crush His Son. Who among us could do such a thing—even for the very best of humanity? Yet the Father, in His greatness and His goodness, did this unto His Son—through the agency of wicked men—for the least and lowest of men (cf. Romans 5:8). More than this, it was the joy of the Son to endure the crushing (cf. Hebrews 12:2). He did this to vindicate His Father’s honor and to redeem His fellow brothers and sisters. How He did this shocks, appalls, and, somehow, thrills.
Jesus endured the Father’s crushing through suffering in His body. He endured the blows of the wicked with their accompanying taunts (Mark 14:65, John 19:3). He endured the whip as delivered by the Romans (John 19:1) and He endured the thorns upon His brow (Matthew 27:29). Above all, He endured the nails in His hands and feet—thus dying a death reserved only for those esteemed the scum of the earth by the Romans. This, though remarkably gruesome, does not tell all of Jesus’ suffering. It may not tell the chief part.
Jesus endured the Father’s crushing through suffering in His inner man. He endured the rejection of His person and message by most (John 1:10-12, esp. 1:10-11). He was subject, as a sojourner in this world, to all the ills of this world, such as heat and hunger, to name but two. At His betrayal He was forsaken by all (Mark 14:50). Though He knew no sin, He was made sin for all whom the Father would give to Him, that they may be made the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Finally, and most awfully, Jesus was abandoned upon the
Cross by His Father as a sacrifice for sin—an abandonment which prompted Jesus to cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me” (Mark 15:34).
Yet despite all of this, and through all of this, it was the will of the Father to prosper His Son. The Gospels, written by four men though representing one Mind, testify unanimously that God raised Him from the dead to life: victorious over sin, over sin’s wage (death and hell), and over sin’s author (the evil one). It was the will of the Father to raise Jesus, the Son, from ignominy to adoration (Philippians 2:9-11). Every knee, whether gladly or grudgingly, will confess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. It was the will of the Father to set upon Jesus all judgment (John 5:27) and to bestow upon Him all riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). Not only these, but it was the will of the Father to render Jesus’ every ministry unshakably effective: Isaiah mentions two in the final stanza of today’s text: atonement and intercession. Jesus, the atoning sacrifice for our sins, bore the wrath of the Father poured out on sin and sinners in our stead; He, thus, is our propitiation for sin (1 John 4:10). He also ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). That is, He prays for us to His (and our) Heavenly Father, and He pleads our case before His infinitely righteous bar; He is our advocate (1 John 2:1). These, and every other ministry Christ extends to us, He extends with perfect effectiveness—and all because of the will of God.
What, then, are the implications for us in this news? Consider four implications today. First, because of these tidings I can face tomorrow. We each have pains that we received and endure, sorrows we have borne and continue to bear, and trials—perhaps of long standing—under which we continue. Yet because of Christ’s risen life, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given to us (cf. Romans 5:5), we have power from on high the face our God-appointed difficulties: no matter the difficulty, and no matter whether it be real or imagined. Because Jesus is raised, we can face tomorrow.
Second, because of Jesus’ resurrection all fear is gone. It flees in view of this earthly plane. Nothing befalls me save what the Lord, in His loving, merciful providence, orders for me—and if I am called to love God, as expressed in Christian faith, then all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), even my good. All fear flees also in view of the realm yet to be enjoyed. The end of this earthly journey is but a step into our full inheritance: a step into the inexpressibly wondrous full presence of Christ, into a place fully removed from the sin and sorrow of this plane, and into the company of the redeemed in glory. That company shall include Christians in every age, and it shall include Christians whom we knew in this age. What a glad a glorious prospect we have in Christ. Because He is raised, all fear is gone.
Third, because of Jesus’ resurrection I know Who holds the future. We need not worry about the future, though we need to be prudent concerning it by God’s grace. The Lord, Whose being transcends our notion of time, already provides for our lacks into the future. He already protects us from adversaries and adversities in the time that we have not reached yet. We know that God’s designs for us in Christ ever are for good; therefore, we may trust Him for activity in that time which, being yet bound to this instant, has not yet come for us. Because Jesus is raised, I know Who holds the future.
Fourth, because Christ is raised from the dead life is worth the living. To be sure, trials yet come—yet for us who believe, trials serve not to harm us, but to prove a blessing to us. Yet Jesus, above giving life eternal, gives life abundant (John 10:10). We note the salient features of this abundant life now: the nearness of Jesus’ presence in the Holy Spirit, confidence that He is good and delights to do us good (cf. Psalm 119:68), and confidence that He will fulfill His every promise to us (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). True, this is only the earnest on the full inheritance we have in Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:13-14), yet if the mere earnest be so inexpressibly wonderful, how much more so the fullness must be. Truly because Christ is raised from the dead life is worth the living.
In the late 1960s and early 1970 a singer-songwriter couple found themselves struggling. They were not alone; most of our nation was struggling. We were a nation at war in Vietnam, and we were a nation at odds at home—particularly as manifest at the height of the drug counterculture. Certain centers of alleged learning espoused a patently false, pessimistic theology asserting that God is dead—and that line of thought made some inroads into the more liberal seminaries and, consequently, into the more liberal churches. More personally, because of these and perhaps other factors, they struggled through a dry spell in their songwriting ministry. Into all of this came the news that a child, a son, was to be born to them who would join two older sisters in their family.
The man of the house felt that the time was no good time for bringing a child into the world. Yet God, in His mercy to them, and to the believing world, impressed these words upon his soul and his wife’s soul: “How sweet to hold a newborn baby/And feel the pride and joy he brings/But greater still the calm assurance/This child can face uncertain days because He lives.” We know these words as the second verse of the hymn “Because He Lives” by Bill and Gloria Gaither. This hymn has ministered deeply to my soul for thirty years, especially
in the infancy of my own son, and I trust it shall minister deeply unto our souls once again—in about two minutes.
Because He lives, we shall live also (John 14:19). Believe it and be saved (cf. John 3:16, 11:25-26; Acts 16:31).
 From Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990), 129.