Sunday readings reflection, The suffering servant

October 17, 2021

Isaiah 53:10-11
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22

Hebrews 4:14-16
Mark 10:35-45

The 53rd chapter of Isiah is commonly titled in various Bible translations, “The Lord’s Suffering Servant.” Much of what Jesus said and did was prophesied by Isaiah, and this chapter prophesies and explains his suffering. Yet at that time, and still today, many waited and are still waiting for a messiah who will come as a conquering, glory-filled King. And even among those of us who believe and profess Jesus is the Christ, it is nearly unfathomable to consider that God would “be pleased to crush him in infirmity.”

I think most of us have a pretty good idea of the meaning of sacrificial love. Certainly any who are married and/or have children understand what it is to sacrifice in love for the good of our spouse or child. We know, intuitively, that sacrifice is better, in the long run, than selfishness. But are we pleased to accept this? If I’m being fully honest, I know that there are many times I was not altogether pleased to sacrifice even for love. So I sometimes question God, “why me?” when I face suffering. It can seem unfathomable to consider that God would allow suffering for us who believe.

But I am not God. And, as God Himself has said, His ways are not my ways (IS 55:8-9). So I need to look at suffering, whether my own or of those I see in the world, in a different light. Isaiah provides some context, “because of his affliction, [my suffering servant] shall see the light in fullness of days.” Acceptance of suffering leads us to the fullness of God’s promises. Jesus knew this and accepted this. As his follower–as a presumed believer–I, then, am also called to do so.

God wants us to return His inimitable love for us. He does not need our love, but He wants our love. Suffering brings us closer to God. We call out to Him in our distress, look for Him in the darkness, and pour out our hearts to Him in mourning. He hears our cries and reminds us of His promises. Jesus is the fulfillment of those promises, and God was “pleased” to offer Jesus as a sacrifice for our love.

My Lord God, You were pleased to offer Your love to us through the suffering and sacrifice of Your beloved Son. May I be accepting of the suffering I encounter, turning to You in love, knowing the fulfillment of Your promises has been given to me by Your grace. Amen

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