I wanted to do a little Isaiah action leading up to Easter to help set my heart and hope on Jesus. Isaiah wrote down one of the most famous passages in Scripture. People just love his account of the suffering servant; the afflictions of Christ. Here’s how it starts:
Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted. (Isaiah 52:13)
Before Isaiah launches in this tragic and poetic account of the gospel, he kind of gives away the end of the story. One thing I’ve learned from reading the Bible is that God isn’t great with the surprises. In fact, all of Isaiah and all of the Old Testament was written to give away the ending – Jesus and His exaltation.
Isaiah’s gospel presentation doesn’t start at the beginning, with the baby Jesus humbled and leveled in the form of a man, it starts with Him high and lifted up; it starts with the exalted Christ.
And the question is why? Doesn’t he know that telling a good story is about building suspense and tension, and getting your readers to be unsure about how it’s all going to end? Isaiah didn’t get that storytelling 101 memo, and for that matter, neither did God.
God is kind of obsessed with the ending.
He keeps blurting it out throughout the whole of the Bible. He keeps giving it away. It shines through the broken and desperate words of Job, and in the glorious restoration at the end of the story of Ruth. It’s explicitly communicated through the words of the Prophets and laid out for us in the book of Revelation.
When I encounter the Bible I meet a God who seems to be urging me at every moment to keep the end of the story in the forefront of my mind.
Knowing and believing the end is the heart of Christianity.
Paul says that if our hope is in this life alone, we are to be pitied above all men. The root of Christinity is not an event that happened 2000 years ago and it’s not being kind to people or being morally ‘good’. The Christian life includes all those things, but the root of it is a faith in a redeemer who purchased for us on the Cross an eternity of Himself.
And that’s why Isaiah starts with the end. Because the gospel is good news; not primarily the news of a death, but the news of a death that secured for us life. It’s not primarily news of a humbled servant, but news of a humbled servant who now sits exalted at the right hand of the Father.
Life has tension enough for all you surprise junkies. There are a million things we don’t know. God hasn’t revealed to us everything, but He has told us enough. We know enough to change everything.
So the question for you and I today is: do we live like we know the end?
We look at the Disciples right after the Cross – huddled in fear and sorrow as the death of Jesus sinks in – and we are astonished. What on earth? Did they not hear a word He said? Do they not know that Sunday is coming and with it the vindication that death has been cannibalized by life?
We scorn their unbelief but we live in the shadow of the same doubt.
Each of us has an overwhelming fear in the deepest places of our hearts. We have this overwhelming fear that maybe this life is really all there is. Maybe our only hope of happiness is really what we can take for ourselves today. What if we miss out on something in the hope of a promised reward only to wake up one day and find that the ending promised to us was a big fat lie?
It’s the root of all our sin: disbelief in a world greater than this. Just like Esau, we have a great inheritance held out to us, but it seems so far away and we find ourselves so hungry. The birthright promised to us by the blood of Christ isn’t tangible enough to keep us from gluttony in this world.
Examine your life. Do you live today as if your savior is high and exalted? Do you live today as if your mediator is on His throne, acting for your good at all times? Or do you live like an orphan; afraid and insecure, stealing what you can because you’re not honestly sure how this whole thing is going to play out.
What have you and I to fear when God is for us? What can this life throw at us that could cause a Christian to tremble? Surely nothing. We are owned by an exalted Savior seated at the right hand of an omnipotent Father, who holds the hearts of earthly kings in His hands and turns them where He wills.
We have to watch Christ suffer with a constant awareness of His exaltation.
We have to read Isaiah’s tale of the suffering servant in light of the ending because that’s how he wrote it. The greatness in the humility of Christ and the suffering He endured is made great by an understanding of the glory He now sits in.
Today is Monday. Don’t let this week escape you. Don’t miss the opportunity to reflect and remember and meditate on what has been won for us.
The Cross of Christ is the symbol of Christianity. It is the culmination of the glory of God. But it isn’t the end. This week doesn’t center on Friday. It centers on what Friday bought for us. Fix your hope on the victory of Christ.
Know this, child of God: today your mediator and friend, your truest companion and advocate is high and exalted. Today He does not hang on a cross as a criminal. Today His glory is not veiled from the eyes of those who have sat at His feet and been washed by His blood.
He has made all God’s promises real. He has bought them for you and for me. The end of the story is written and is glorious and is ours. Take heart.