During Holy Week, taking it personally

The Verse of the Day on Biblegate.com for May 31, 2021 comes from Isaiah 53: 5-6 (New Living Translation):

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Isaiah 53 provides a portrait of “the Suffering Servant” and is often referenced during Holy Week, the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. For Christian believers, this special period culminates with Resurrection Sunday, which commemorates his resurrection from the dead. There have been times that during that same period, Jews are preparing for Passover. The 8-day festival began this year at Sundown on Saturday, March 27 and ends on the evening of Sunday, April 4. Passover, also known as Pesach,  commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, as families traditionally gather for a Seder dinner, where they retell the story of the escape from slavery, through the plagues, and to the parting of the Red Sea.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, where the Messiah represents the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder, the traditional meal served as part of the observance of Passover. In the New Testament, we find this reference:

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (NLT):

Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old breadof wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.

The verse from 1 Corinthians 5:7 also brings to mind a most memorable intersection of Passover and the events of the last week of the life of Jesus Christ on Earth. I recall a particularly meaningful Holy Week occurring more than twenty years ago. At that time as a congregation, our church participated in Holy Communion. Although I had observed and participated in the Lord’s Supper countless times since adolescence when I first learned the significance of what that observance really meant, on that particular occasion, I took communion and observed the elements of Christ’s sacrifice with new eyes. That experience brought to mind Isaiah 53 and 1 Corinthians 5:7, inspiring the following response in which we recognized and personalized the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf:

Taking It Personally

Isaiah 53

“For indeed Christ, our Passover,

 was sacrificed for us.”

Corinthians 5:7b          

Cursed with a curse, He was hung on a tree.

The suffering servant bartered for a price,

Battered and bruised for our iniquity.

Behold the Lamb, unblemished sacrifice,

Offered once, Jesus Christ, our Passover.

Afflicted, stricken, smitten that God should

Freely pour out His mercy, moreover,

Lay on Him the chastisement of our peace.

From His side flowed water and sinless blood,

A new covenant established that we might cease

From dead works by a new and living way.

God’s good pleasure no longer concealed

But memorialized this solemn day.

Man of sorrows, with His stripes we are healed.

By the blood of the Lamb, we are made whole,

Quickened, cleansed in spirit, body, and soul.

Listen to this recording of Isaiah 53: 3-7 set to music from Christian Worship & Scripture Songs (Esther Mui), words to consider deeply today.

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