Friday, July 21, 2023

The Suffering Servant (Revelation 5)

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain” (Rev. 5:12).

Shortly after Peter’s confession of Jesus’s true identity, he tries to prevent Jesus from going to Jerusalem. Peter still had false ideas clouding his judgment about the Messiah. He expected a king, not a suffering servant who would die on a cross. Clearly, the disciples were not insulated from the popular notions concerning the Messiah’s mission. Despite Jesus’s teaching to the contrary, they expected a political leader to usher in a temporal kingdom for Israel and relieve the oppressive burden of Roman rule. As the disciples were still trying to sort out the Messiah’s purpose, Jesus prepared for the inevitable death that awaited Him at Calvary.

The work of the Messiah should not have been a total surprise to the Jewish people. Isaiah described the Messiah as a suffering servant in striking detail. In Isaiah 53, the prophet tells how Christ “was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.… the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.… It was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.” But the mystery of the work of the Messiah is that through this suffering, He would be exalted: “After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied … Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong because He poured out His life unto death.”

The glory of the Messiah ascended from the ashes of suffering and death. The Jewish people expected the Lion of Judah, but they did not realize that the Lion would be a Lamb. In John’s vision (Rev. 5), the elders proclaimed that only the Lion of Judah was worthy to break the scroll, but when John looked toward the throne, the eyes that gazed back at him were not those of a lion, but of a slaughtered lamb. Adam’s race needed more than a king, it needed a mediator, a crucified Lamb, to bring them into the heavenly kingdom. God sent His Son to overcome the enmity of our hearts. He sent a Lamb who would die on a cross and then rise again in glory. “With Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.… Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain!”

Read Romans 8:17–27. Just as Christ suffered, Christians can expect to suffer. How does Paul comfort God’s children as they face suffering? How was Jesus rewarded for His suffering? Will you share that reward? If you are suffering, hope in Christ and be comforted that one day the suffering will end and you will share in His glory.