The weeks leading up to Easter always have a fun feel. There is more sunshine, spring weather, and a sense of hope in the air as things begin to grow and awaken. In our new series, [Un]expected, we look at Isaiah 53. Although we know it is a prophecy about the Messiah from nearly 700 years before he was born, it is not what the Jewish people were expecting. I am sure they had a deep desire to have their spiritual needs met, but they were unable to separate this from the desire for getting their physical, social and political needs met.
Our spiritual needs deal with the deepest places of our heart and are different than other needs. God shows dozens of examples of people who are persecuted, yet have great joy because of their bedrock of hope and faith. Paul was in prison for serving God and was beaten while incarcerated, yet his gratitude was so great, he actually rejoiced for being counted worthy of that suffering. John was sentenced to a life of isolation on the island of Patmos for his faith and yet he was able to hear and see God and write the Book of Revelation. Almost all of the disciples were executed for their faith and yet counted it a blessing to die for their faith.
The Jewish people of Isaiah’s time did not see Jesus of Nazareth in this passage.
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. 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.
— Isaiah 53:2–3
That does not sound like the description of a mighty warrior or unstoppable king. They wanted a powerful leader that would re-establish their homeland and usher in a new reign, not a leader that would surrender to the authorities and refrain from fighting back when arrested. Their king would not be despised and rejected, their king would be powerful and loved by all.
I think sometimes we come to God asking similar things. We want him to do things for us that are tangible, beneficial and powerful when what we need most is grace and forgiveness. If you are stuck and in a place where you just aren’t seeing the goodness of God because of your circumstances, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of your salvation, of that moment when he replaced your heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Ask him to help you remember his gift on the cross, the gift that saved you, and met your deepest need.