Year B – Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50:4-9a

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.  Morning by morning he wakens–wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.  The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.  I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.  The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who are my adversaries?  Let them confront me.  It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?”

Summary – The prophet here, in context of his preaching to the people about the causes of their national woes and God’s answer to the problem, speaks of his ministry to Israel.  His role is that of a teacher who speaks what he is taught of God (vs 4).  He shows his submission to God’s plan by not being rebellious (vs 5) and taking the persecution that comes his way (vs 6); and he knows that the persecution is not shameful for God is his vindicator (vs 7).  He is secure in knowing that he need not be afraid of man because of this (vss 8-9).  Isaiah in this typifies a part of the ministry that the true Suffering Servant (Jesus) would assume, and we who are in Christ share in this benefit for if God is for us, who could be against us (Rom 8:37, cf. Is 50:8-9).

 Insight – Self-sacrifice for the sake of God’s gospel call is difficult.  Have you ever though, “Boy, it would be easier if I could just do it my way?”  That is the struggle most followers of God have felt for thousands of years.  Jonah found that out the hard way, didn’t he?  When he ran from God’s call, he ended up inside a giant fish!  Isaiah, however, had a different experience in this passage.  He says that he was NOT rebellious and so as his plan was in line with God’s plan, God was his defender.  When Isaiah was persecuted for the things he said to the rebellious Israelites, he didn’t worry about it, because he knew God was on his side.  This Sunday we remember Christ’s “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem.  Generally it has a more festive connotation, but remember that Jesus was entering Jerusalem in order to ultimately die.  He, like a perfect Isaiah, was being obedient to death on a cross (Php 2:8) since He obeyed God’s will (Lk 22:42).  God is on our side through the redemption His Son brought.  So we can feel confident that we are more than conquerors through Him (Rom 8:37) and don’t have to fear those who are against us.

Child Catechism – Who is it that helps you?  The Lord God. (cf. vs 9)

 Discussion – What does it mean for a believer’s life that they are in Christ and “share in His sufferings” (1Pt 4:13)?  What are some things in your life that you are afraid of doing?  How could trusting that you are not put to shame when you are doing God’s will help you in those circumstances?

Prayer – Our Father, you who have richly blessed us in your Son now enable us to serve you without fear.  Though we experience persecutions of various kinds, grant us the strength to focus on you, our protector, defender, and vindicator.  Through you, we are not put to shame.  Amen

 

-JDHerr

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