Aloha Friday Message – October 19, 2018 – Maximum Allowable

  • 1842AFC101918 – Maximum Allowable

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    Isaiah 53:10 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. Another translation says “It was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush him with pain” The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. Susan Jones. New York: Doubleday, 1985

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at some of the most difficult passages to read in the Bible. They are not difficult because their meaning is obscure; quite to the contrary, the meaning is abundantly clear. These passages are difficult because they describe in stark language what Jesus was looking forward to on his journey back to Jerusalem: Death by crucifixion as ordained by his Father – a death that would inflict the maximum allowable suffering on the frailty of his human body. Was God so cruel that he would delight in seeing his Only Begotten Son suffer incredible pain in body, mind, and spirit? There’s a famous TV personality who is rankled and infuriated by this kind of statement “God was pleased to crush him with pain.” Of course, this woman also rejects that God is God and Jesus is God and claims she is as much god as either of them. She is looking at Jesus’ sacrifice through worldly eyes that do not see into Eternity. God sees beyond what she can see, and what God sees pleases him immensely.  Let’s start by looking at the language in our Key Verse.

Let’s begin by listening to this (↔ Music Link) very popular piece of music. I heard it in Shrek. You may have also heard it on America’s Got Talent or American Idol. It’s played on radio stations often. It was written by Leonard Cohen over 30 years ago. It has been covered by dozens of artists. There are reportedly as many as 15 verses of the finished piece and originally as many as 80 verses in the draft. Everyone recognizes at least some of the verses, especially the first one:

“I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?”

Just what does it take to please the Lord? We can look to one of God’s “besties” to get an idea. You’ll remember the Lord chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to succeed Saul as King of Israel because David was a man after God’s own heart (See 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) God is pleased when our hearts are like his heart. What is God’s heart like? Generous, kind, loving, forgiving, merciful, full of graces, perfectly integral. Who has more integrity that God? He himself tells us he is ONE. How then can God delight in the death of his Servant and Son? We need to dig a little deeper and ask –

Why would Isaiah prophesy that God would be pleased to see his Messiah suffer? What kind of father wants to see his son die a horrible death? What kind of God determines that crucifixion the way to fulfill his plan of Salvation? Once again, if we turn to the original words, we can get a clearer understanding of this passage.

Many of us have heard this verse dozens of times. We’ve heard it in sermons, homilies, and Bible-study lessons. It comes from Isaiah’s prophecy of The Suffering Servant. Perhaps the most quoted verse from this passage is Isaiah 53:6

6  All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

This verse, I think, holds the key to better understanding what follows in verse 10 about God being pleased to see Jesus suffer. There are myriad paths we can take to analyze this connection, but I’d like to keep it simple. When Adam sinned, God’s plan for salvation, already prepared since before Creation, was activated. It required the shedding of blood, and death. For millennia, that was accomplished through the sacrifice of animals in place of humans. But at the right time, God gave us the Christ to die for all the ungodly souls in all of time (See Romans 5:6-8 and Galatians 4:4). The first step in unraveling this mystery of Christ’s suffering is that it was part of the Plan so that he could take on “the iniquity of us all.”

Whose plan was it? God’s plan. And just to check our understanding of what that means, what should be our understanding of who GOD IS with regard to that plan? Was it God the Father who said, “Son, I’ve got some Good News and some bad news.”? Was it God the Son who said, “Father, I think I have an idea that will clear up this whole mess.”? Was it God the Holy Spirit who said, “How long should we wait before we proceed with our plan?” You have guessed the correct answer! It was ALL of the above! God has always been a community of Love. There wasn’t any “imposition of will.” There was only congruity of will! If, then, “everybody” in the Trinity was in agreement, we still need to know why God was pleased. Let’s look at three words in the Old Testament that mean “pleased.” The first one to look at is the verb used in Isaiah 53:10.

The word is חָפֵץ (chaphets) {khaw-fates’}. It is to delight in something, to receive that which is desired, or be pleased to do. Another word used frequently is יָאַל (ya’al) {yaw-al’}. This carries the connotation of being content, aiming to please, willingly make a beginning, agree to, to be content, resolve to, be determined to. See for example Genesis 18:27, Judges 17:11, and/or 1 Samuel 12:22. Another word in this sense is רָצָה (ratsah) {raw-tsaw’}. This one connotes favorable acceptance, to satisfy or feel satisfaction, to be determined, or to make oneself acceptable. All three of these words carry the meaning of being pleased or satisfied. It was חָפֵץ (chaphets) that Isaiah used to express God’s inspiration as he wrote this incredible prophetic poetry about The Suffering Servant whom God chose for us.

We could never have chosen Christ to suffer and die for us! It is not our privilege to do so; it is a privilege assigned only to God. And Christ, as God, chose to suffer and die for us – even for us who sin greatly! All who are called are justified by his willing sacrifice. He willingly laid down his life for us because that obedience pleased God and that means it pleased Christ to do it. Why? God saw with satisfaction the obedient and willing sacrifice of the Christ. God looked ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and saw the JOY of our redemption! It was God’s determinate plan that Jesus would be the instrument of our redemption (See Acts 2:23) Moreover, God the Father chose Jesus as the sacrificial victim – the blood offering – for our sin and Jesus concurred! Jesus willingly offered himself as a pleasing sacrifice that would make the Father rejoice. You see, Jesus’ heart is like his Father’s heart because it is his Father’s heart. That is why we often pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto your heart!” Jesus’ offering was the perfected sin offering (See Exodus 29:14 and Leviticus 4:3) given by Jesus for us as the perfected guilt or trespass offering (See Leviticus 7:2 and Ezekiel 46:20).

Here we need to look at two nearly antithetical aspects of Jewish law regarding sin. The Hebrews made sacrificial offerings of many kinds. Some were “guilt (a.k.a. trespass) offerings.” These were temporal actions for dealing with the consequences of sin. The goal was to accomplish satisfaction for the errors committed. Some were “sin offerings.” The sin offerings were made for the expiation – amends, penitence, punishment, reparation – for sins. In his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus accomplished both. He provided the temporal satisfaction for the consequences of sin as well as the full atonement for all sin. And Jesus was pleased to do this because it was God’s plan.

In Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah writes:

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.

Here the Suffering Servant is portrayed as a Guilt Offering and in Isaiah 53:10, he is further portrayed as a Sin Offering. Jesus did it all – willingly, completely, perfectly – just as God (The Trinity) had planned it. It pleased God to do that because it was The Plan.

“The plan for what?” you might ask. The Plan for our Salvation. God’s Plan of Salvation was not for his benefit – although as we have seen it pleased him to formulate it and bring it to fruition – but while God was pleased to create this Salvation, he is all the more pleased to bless and approve, to sanctify and make holy, this plan for our benefit. He is especially delighted, joyous, and genuinely pleased-as-punch to see that we are redeemed by this plan. “By his stripes we are healed.” What kind of language is that for prophecy? You might ask, “Shouldn’t prophecy be future tense?” Yes, you are right again! God has no future tense, no past tense, but only present tense, all the time, everywhere. That pleases God who are always happy to destroy the barriers between God and Man. He who gave himself as a ransom for us all, he who paid in full all the debts of our sins, including death, he who willingly sought to please God so that God might be pleased to welcome us back into fellowship with Him – HE is pleased that WE are once again fully HIS.

That certainly pleases me. It also blesses me because it blesses God. It pleases us because when we say “God Bless YOU,” we mean that blessing to be in present tense in the same way that God is in present tense – all the time and everywhere. We have been given the remarkable Gift of Free Will so that when we finally hear and understand that “he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (See Isaiah 53:12), we will know why Isaiah says, “through him the will of the LORD shall prosper,” (See Isaiah 53:10c) because our hearts become like unto his heart – utterly devoid of iniquity.

    All of your sin, all of my sin, all of our sins, all of every sin is “paid in full,” negated, wiped out, gone without a trace as if sin had never happened. Only God can do that! And when we read “he shall see his offspring and prolong his days,” all of that is predicated by and contingent upon his dying in “the land of the living,” to reopen to us the “Realm of the Resurrection.” God made Jesus to be sin by imputation (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That was so very pleasing to God – our Almighty Everliving Triune God – that God rejoiced in its perfect Perfection. That is why he did delight in seeing his Only Begotten Son suffer incredible pain in body, mind, and spirit. It was not for him or for the suffering that he felt delight. God’s Justice always precedes God’s Mercy. Here we see what Jesus did for our benefit. He was spurned, suffered, infirm, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, harshly treated, condemned, chastised, killed, and all of this was done because it pleased God to do it so that we can be restored to God’s presence.

It was for our restoration to his presence that he felt delight. After all, we are created in him, by him, and for him. How could we, and he, not rejoice to be back together again!? So, Belovéd, let us echo the words and actions of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 4:16 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need because, as Jesus himself said in Mark 10:45 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. That is God’s plan, and it is a mighty good one because it applied the maximum allowable atonement for the maximum allowable redemption. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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