From the Pastor's Desk Who Has Believed?

Who Has Believed?

This – the last week of Lent – is what is known as Holy Week. It is during this week that Jesus first served the Lord’s Supper to his disciples and got down on his hands and knees to wash their feet. I’m so glad that on Sunday, not only did we celebrate Palm Sunday to kick off the week, but we also heard about the meaning and challenge of the foot washing before we got to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. It’s the week, as we remember Jesus’s life, ending in the cross of Good Friday, the silence of the grave of Holy Saturday, and the glorious hope and first fruits of new life on Easter (which I’m excited to celebrate with you on Sunday!)

I thought about what I’d like to tell you this Holy Week, my first one here as pastor at Central, and I could have a lot to say – but – there’s nothing better to say than what has already been said in scripture. So rather than a bunch of reflections from me, I’d rather you take time today…right now…or later when you get a moment once the kids are asleep…or tomorrow morning when you’re sipping on your coffee…to reflect on an important piece of scripture that shaped how the first followers of (and writers about) understood the death of Jesus. 

It’s a well-known passage, written hundreds of years before Jesus was even born: Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It’s one of the “Suffering Servant” poems/songs from Isaiah, and it was perhaps the most prominent one – in that it gave the death of Jesus meaning for the writers of the New Testament.  

Take time to read it, read it again, and then reflect on it. With your reflections, take time to pray, to be silent, to give thanks – to worship.

Try asking these questions…

How does it help you understand the death of Jesus?
How do you feel reading it?
How does it most connect with you?
How does it cause you to praise God and thank Jesus?
How does it cause you to hope?

Read it here, or from your own bible:

13 See, my servant shall prosper;
    he shall be exalted and lifted up
    and shall be very high.
14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him
    —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of mortals—
15 so he shall startle many nations;
    kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
    and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
Who has believed what we have heard?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
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,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity,
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases,
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
    Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
    and his tomb with the rich,
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 with affliction.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11     Out of his anguish he shall see;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
    The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out himself to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors,
yet he bore the sin of many
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

I could reflect, talk, give ideas – but better for God’s Spirit to speak to you through these majestic words, written by the prophet Isaiah.

Anyway, you’ll hear enough from me on Easter morning! See you on Sunday, 6:30AM at the Harbor, or 9:30AM at Central – or maybe even both! (Also remember, we’ll be attending the Atlantic Highlands United Methodist Church’s Good Friday service, 7PM on Friday)

Have a wonderful Holy Week.

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