"Words to Sustain the Weary"
From Isaiah 50, 51, 52, 53

May you feel the peace, love and mercy of God coming to you through our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Today's sermon will be entirely from the Scripture. I have chosen to read to you from the book of Isaiah, reading parts from chapters, 50-53. I will use is Eugene Peterson's translation of the Bible, The Message.

The "me," the "I" in the first part of this reading, is you and me, followers of Jesus, followers of the Way. God has instructed us. God, through the teachings of Jesus, has taught us how. Now it is for us to use what we have been taught. Now it is for us to continue to listen to what God continually teaches us. Now it is for us to wake up, straighten up, get our act together.

Reading from Scripture then, Isaiah, chapter 50:

The Master, God, has given me a well-taught tongue, so I know how to encourage tired people. He wakes me up in the morning. -X- Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders. The Master, God, opened my ears and I didn't go back to sleep, didn't pull the covers back over my head. I followed orders….And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me….Therefore I set my face like flint, confident that I'll never regret this. My champion is right here. Let's take our stand together!... Look! The Master, God, is right here….

Isaiah, chapter 51-listen as God speaks to us:

Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug….Pay attention, my people.  Listen to me, nations. Revelation flows from me. My decisions light up the world. My deliverance arrives on the run, my salvation right on time. I'll bring justice to the peoples. Even faraway islands will look to me and take hope in my saving power. Look up at the skies; ponder the earth under your feet. The skies will fade out like smoke, the earth will wear out like work pants, and the people will die off like flies. But my salvation will last forever; my setting-things-right will never be obsolete.

Listen now, [Listen] you who know right from wrong, you who hold my teaching inside you: Pay no attention to insults, [that come to you because you believe in me and take a stand for me] and when mocked don't let it get you down. Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, but my setting-things-right lasts, my salvation goes on and on and on….

I, I'm the one comforting you. What are you afraid of-or who? Some man or woman who'll soon be dead? Some poor wretch destined for dust? You've forgotten me-God-who made you, who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth. And here you are, quaking like an aspen before the tantrums of a tyrant who thinks he can kick down the world. But what will come of his tantrums? The victims will be released before you know it. They're not going to die. They're not even going to go hungry. [I'm counting on you!] For I am God, your very own God….I teach you how to talk, word by word, and personally watch over you….

So wake up! Rub the sleep from your eyes! Up on your feet [Trinity] Jerusalem!... Therefore listen, please….Your Master, your God, has something to say , your God has taken up his people's case….

Isaiah, Chapter 52, God speaks to us further:

Wake up, wake up! Pull on your boots, [followers of Jesus] Zion! Dress up in your Sunday best, [Trinity] Jerusalem, holy [gathering] place! Those who want no part of God have been culled out. They won't be coming along [because they don't want to]. Brush off the dust and get to your feet, captive [Trinity] Jerusalem! [You're letting the evil doers keep you captive.] Throw off your chains, captive [disciples of Jesus] daughters of Zion!...

[There are] Tyrants on the warpath, whooping it up, and day after day, incessantly, my reputation blackened. Now it's time that my people know who I am, what I'm made of-yes, that I have something to say. Here I am!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messengers brining good news. Breaking the news that all's well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling [all followers] Zion, "Your God reigns!"…

Just watch my servant [my Son] blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! But he didn't begin that way. At first everyone was appalled. He didn't even look human-a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked into silence when they see him. For what was unthinkable they'll have right before them.

Isaiah, Chapter 53, tells us of this "Suffering Servant":

Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God-a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him-our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off-and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of [God's] my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man. Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true….

The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it-life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, [God's one who knows what right living is] my righteous one, my [God's] servant, will [set things right, allow people to get back in a right relationship with God their Creator] make many "righteous ones," as he [God's servant] himself carries the burden of their sins.

Therefore I'll [God will] reward him extravagantly-the best of everything, the highest honors-because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many; he took up the cause of all of us, we, the lost sheep.

Amen and Amen. This is most certainly true.

If you believe it, then let those who believe it say, "Amen."

Read more sermons by Pastor Brie