Read the text below, preferably aloud. As you hear the word, “listen with the ear of your heart” for a word or short phrase that God has for you this day.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
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.
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.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
This selection from the prophet Isaiah has great meaning for Jews and Christians alike. From early on the “Suffering Servant” was identified by Christians as a prophecy of Christ. The passage seems to hinge on the word “but” in the ninth line above. The person described suffers great afflictions and is ignored but that suffering has meaning.
Whether or not the prophet Isaiah had a clear image of Christ in mind, Jesus’ passion does follow this pattern. Christians believe that the Son of God suffered but that suffering is of the greatest importance. The actual value of suffering may be debated by philosophers and theologians, but what is clear is that Christ was willing to endure it for the sake of humanity. To fulfill his mission, Christ was willing to give himself completely, suffering all for us without complaint.
As important as the word “but” is in this passage, the phrase that really stands out to me on a spiritual level is “we held him of no account”. As I try to allow the words of the passage to flow slowly through my consciousness, this phrase rises to the surface.
Tomorrow’s step, “Meditating”, is about seeking to understand what God might be saying through the words that call to us. For now, simply ask yourself what word grabbed your attention, and let this word stay with you today.
© Suffering Servant, Donald Jackson, 2005. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.