Tuesday in Holy Week, April 11

Isaiah 50:4-9a (ESV)

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.

But the Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,

Why is the Book of Isaiah quoted so often in New Testament verses?

“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (John 12.41).  What does the prophet see?  His songs of the Suffering Servant reveal Christ’s passion in its details, purpose and nature.  The same servant will suffer and die to save many from their sins, be buried in a rich man’s tomb, and became a light to the Gentiles, men lost in moral darkness.

The messianic identity of Jesus, the Suffering Servant, the Man of Sorrows, is underscored in the above verses.  An indefatigable teacher, he is a figure conscious of being on the path the Father has laid out for him.  To the weary in body and soul he gives hope; his reward lies in blows and mockery.  As for his vindication, such he leaves in the Father’s hands.

Consider the burial of Jesus and the subsequent harrowing of hell, as expressed where the rites of Holy Saturday are observed.  Here is a fifth century reading for today unpacking the final act in the Passion narrative:

The Lord vanquished hell when he descends into it.
The Lord put hell in turmoil even as it tasted of his flesh.

Hell grasped a corpse, and met God.
Hell seized earth, and encountered heaven.
Hell took what it saw, and was overcome by what it could not see.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are cast down!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead.

Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed son our savior Jesus Christ: so by continual mortifying of our corrupt afflictions we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection through his merits.  Amen.

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