To Be Counted Righteous

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 53, Psalm 111; Matthew 26:36-27:61

God used Isaiah to help His people understand what was about to happen to them – how they were about to go into a time of captivity and exile as a consequence of years of unfaithfulness. It was not all bad news, though. Isaiah also spoke boldly that God had a plan – a plan of REDEMPTION and RESTORATION. They would return again one day and they would rebuild what was about to be destroyed.

Part of God’s plan of restoration revealed through the prophet Isaiah was in regards to the Messiah. Isaiah foretold how he would grow, be rejected and beaten, killed and placed in a rich man’s tomb. This righteous servant would die, bearing all our sins and making it possible for the many to be counted righteous. Consider this morning the sacrifice of our Savior.

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
– Isaiah 53:2-3

Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” – Luke 22:39-48

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
– Isaiah 53:4-5

“Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified…They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship…Then they led him away to be crucified. – Mark 15:13-15, 17-20

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 53:6

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Matthew 27:45-46

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned, he was led away.
– Isaiah 53:7-8a

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise. – Matthew 27:12-14

No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave…
– Isaiah 53:8b-9

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph…He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. – Luke 23:50-53

And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
– Isaiah 53:11b-12

Lord, this morning we give you honor. Thank you for dying so that we could be restored from our sinful condition. Thank you for reminding me again this morning of your generous gift of redemption – that you made it possible for me to be counted righteous by bearing my sins on the cross. For that gift I am forever thankful! We have so much to thank you for – protection, provision, your generous love outpoured. Thank you for pointing my thankful heart back to the biggest reason I have to give you praise!

Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart…
He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!…
Praise him forever!
– Psalm 111:1,9-10