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The Gospel of Isaiah
Posted By Eric Sammons On February 22, 2010 @ 9:37 am In Scripture | Comments Disabled
One of the common themes underlying much of the New Testament is the grappling of the early Church to understand the meaning behind the person and life of Jesus of Nazareth. In so many ways, Jesus Christ was a truly “new” event; in fact, in many he is the only “new” event since the beginning of time. So the first Christians were understandably at a loss to completely understand what it all meant. Some of the realities revealed by Christ – such as the Trinity – took centuries to explain in human language (and even then, the language only scratched the surface of the reality).
In order to try to make sense of Jesus, the first Christians – all Jews – looked to one place: the Scriptures, or what is called our Old Testament. They poured over the Scriptures to find ways to understand and explain the events of Christ’s life, especially his death and resurrection. And in the Old Testament, there is one place that especially deepened their understanding of Christ’s Passion: the book of Isaiah. More than any other, this book, called the “fifth Gospel” by many of the Church Fathers, was the “go-to” book when it came to comprehending the meaning behind the life of Christ, particularly the crucifixion and the empty tomb.
The climax of Isaiah can be found in the “servant songs” found in Isaiah 42-53. These songs depict a “servant” of the Lord who is faithful and brings salvation to the world through his obedience to God. Before the advent of Christ, many interpreted this “servant” as the people of Israel, but the first Christians saw in the servant a snapshot of their Lord Jesus Christ. And it is especially the fourth servant song, found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, which reveals Christ’s work on the Cross. Every single word of this passage is quoted in the New Testament, and the first Christians were quite clear about who this servant was:
Traditionally, the book of Isaiah has been recommended reading for Lent. I would pass that recommendation on to you: read this “Gospel” and you will more deeply understand and appreciate our Lord and his saving work.
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