Lent Devotion for April 12
"Numbered with the Transgressors"
Reader: "He was counted among the rebels."
Response: "He interceded for rebels."
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 53:11-12
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 15:27
27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
(Some manuscripts add a v.28 “And the Scripture was fulfilled that said, ‘He was counted among those who were rebels.’”)
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In this translation of the Isaiah passage, the word “experience” is used in verse eleven. It would seem we need a word with more gravitas. The actual word is “knowledge,” but even that is a “knowledge plus.” The Son of God was obedient, endured suffering, humiliation, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, and intimacy with His Father, all in the unfolding of God’s plan of restoration for the whole created order. Using the word “experience” seems a little thin! Sometimes our language doesn’t have the capacity to carry the significant meaning of such an event. There is something else worth mentioning. Isaiah writes that the Messiah will be killed among the rebels. As we have mentioned previously, the Scriptures remind us that there must be at least two witnesses to verify a truth. At the crucifixion, the witnesses were actually two rebels. They, as well as those standing at the foot of the cross, verify the historicity of the ultimate sacrifice. Did you also notice that Isaiah mentions, not only did the Messiah bear the sins of the world, He “interceded for rebels.” This was written 700 years before it happened! The accuracy of the Scriptures to detail is another argument for the inspiration of the Bible. In these passages, we see again how outwardly focused Jesus was in His attending to those around Him, even as he was dying on the cross. There is a rebel in heaven today because of Jesus’ intercession on His behalf. To the thief, He said, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” All glory to Christ forever and ever. Our words still fail and seem so small to grasp the weight of what Christ has done. Hallelujah!
MUSIC: "Behold and See if There Be Any Sorrow” from Handel's Messiah by Francesc Gamón Olmo
O merciful Father, who in compassion for Thy sinful children didst send Thy Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world and suffer for our sake. He did not shun the lost and the rebels. The load of sin he bore was not his own, but that of those he loves. So give to us grace to serve one another in all lowliness, and to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
–Book of Common Worship, adapted by DS