Thursday: March 29                                                   

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?

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            Each season of Lent, most Christians spend some time in contemplating what Jesus had to go through for us as part of God’s salvation plan.  What is seen in the historical record is not pretty, and today’s prophetic passage is no exception to that rule.  This passage of Isaiah is a messianic passage of scripture in that it clearly portrays for the reader some of the torments that Jesus our Messiah had do go through for us.

            In verses 4 and 5 we find the phrase “The Lord God wakens or opens my ear,” and the Messiah was not rebellious to the will of God.  So then, in verse 6 we find that the Messiah gives his back to smiters and his face to those to those who pulled out the beard.  The Messiah surrenders himself to this barbarous treatment because he follows the will of God.  Jesus has listened to God and followed God’s will even when the road was a difficult one to follow.  A Roman flogging was a thing to be greatly feared.  Scripture does not record how many strokes Jesus received under Pontius Pilate, but we know that Roman “flagellums” often had pieces of bone in the thongs in order to shred the victim’s back, and that floggings prior to crucifixions were often designed to literally half kill the prisoner so that he would not survive as long on the cross.

            But in all this torture, we find the phrase “The Lord helps me.”  And because of this Godly help, “I have not been confounded and therefore I set my face like flint.”  I have always wondered what it means to “set my face like a flint.”  I suspect that Jesus had to resolutely go up to Jerusalem that last time knowing that he would die there.  I think that he had to be very determined to follow God’s will through to the end. What about us? When things get difficult, do we do what God would have us to do regardless of difficulty?  Can we set our faces like flint and be faithful unto God?

O God, help me to listen to you, and then obey you, come what may.

Rev. Dr. Gregory Widener

First Christian Church, Logan

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