This morning, like many people observing Good Friday, I began with a studying of Isaiah 53.  But, whereas I’ve learn Isaiah 53 many instances earlier than, have preached from it, and realize it properly as one of many major Old Testament Messianic prophecies in regards to the torture and crucifixion of the Messiah, in addition to about his substitutionary atonement for sinners, the final a part of the chapter hung round me all through the day, coming to thoughts over and over. The first a part of Isaiah 53 is acquainted and quoted usually. The final half is there and learn, however we’ve got often already skilled the affect of the primary half and the final verses, if learn in any respect, are often learn earlier than we return and clarify the primary half. That is a disgrace.

Isaiah 53:11-12


11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be glad;
by his data shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I’ll divide him a portion with the numerous,
and he shall divide the spoil with the sturdy,
as a result of he poured out his soul to loss of life
and was numbered with the transgressors;
but he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.”

“make many to be accounted righteous”

“he shall bear their iniquities”

“divide him a portion with the many/divide the spoil with the strong”

“he poured out his soul to death”

“was numbered with the transgressors:”

“bore the sin of many”

“makes intercession for the transgressors”

That passage – these phrases – have penetrated my pondering of the struggling of Christ and how, by way of His struggling, He secured our redemption. He was each numbered with the transgressors, bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. He prays for many who transgress. Jesus prays for sinners. He prays for His enemies. He loves His enemies. He bore the sin of His enemies. He died for his enemies. He prays for transgressors.

How completely different that is than us? We usually need to see our enemies defeated. We need them despatched away and to be protected against them. We need to see them stripped of any energy they could have or that they could use towards us. But, can we love them? Do we pray for them? Would we die for them?

Before the worship service at present, I went downtown to Court Square in Montgomery, my city. There is a superb espresso store down there, however I didn’t go in at present. I simply walked round Court Square. This is floor zero of American historical past, for my part. At this sq., there’s a fountain the place one of many largest slave markets within the South was. African American males, ladies, and kids had been purchased and offered there. On one nook is the constructing from the place the telegram to begin the Civil War was despatched in 1861. On the opposite aspect of Court Square is the place Rosa Parks bought on the bus that day in December, 1955, one of many indicators of the start of the top of Jim Crow. This a part of city noticed hundreds and hundreds of Creek Indians marched by way of the streets in chains in 1836 to meet the Federal demand of Indian Removal to the West. Two blocks away, Black and white Freedom Riders had been overwhelmed bloody in 1961.

So a lot has occurred right here. Westward Expansion, Slavery, Indian Removal, Civil War, Civil Rights Movement. So a lot battle and chaos. So a lot ache. I am going there and I pray. I noticed my good friend, Michelle Browder, giving a tour and telling the Montgomery story to a gaggle of vacationers. I give my very own excursions and inform the story right here. But, on at the present time, I used to be praying for awhile.

Then, I went to the Good Friday service simply a few blocks away at my church, First Baptist, Montgomery. We sang the outdated African American non secular that many historians imagine was written by slaves within the South:

Were you there after they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there after they crucified my Lord?
O typically it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there after they crucified my Lord?

I used to be overcome with emotion and started to tremble myself. I noticed Jesus on the Cross, struggling for my sin. I considered Isaiah 53:11-12 – the anguish of his soul, making many to be accounted righteous, bearing their iniquities, pouring out his soul to loss of life, bearing the sin of many, making intercession for the transgressors…” Pastor Jay Wolf talked about how Jesus, stripped and bloody, suffered. The Roman troopers gambled for his garments. He was despised and rejected. We esteemed him not. Then, when he died, every thing went darkish for three hours, the veil within the Temple was torn from the highest down, graves opened up and the lifeless got here forth. The earth shook.

Were you there after they crucified my Lord?

I considered African slaves singing this in cotton fields. I considered them being marched down Commerce Street from the docks on the Alabama River to holding pens the place they’d wait to be offered at Court Square. I considered them mounting the public sale block and being proven off to potential patrons and then being purchased and taken to surrounding plantations to convey wealth up out of the bottom. Then, as we sang I considered them singing …

“O – O – O – O  …. sometimes … it causes me to tremble …. tremble … tremble.”

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Slaves sang this. In the South. They drenched the bottom with tears and remembrance of the Crucifixion of the Son of God within the midst of their slavery. They prayed and cried out and longed and remembered one thing that they had by no means seen, however by religion, they knew to be true.

“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.”

“but he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors”

It was an excessive amount of. Jesus, on the Cross, dying for my sin. For the sins of people that lived lengthy earlier than and who will dwell after. For the sins of slaves and slave house owners, for the rich and the poor, for the powerless and the highly effective. He makes intercession for the transgressors. That is all of us. Singing “Were You There?” within the sanctuary of FBC Montgomery at present I may hear their voices from 150 years in the past calling me to look again additional, to not the horror of the previous that we are able to by no means wash out on our personal irrespective of how laborious we strive; to not our personal failings and sin that we are able to by no means break away from on our personal; to not the present battle in our nation, our world, and even our church buildings; however somewhat, the voices of slaves pointing to a bloody crucifixion when the Son of God was numbered with the transgressors referred to as out to me. Look to the Cross. Look to Jesus. We want a Savior.

Next week, hundreds will collect in Memphis for MLK50. I’ll be there. I plan to jot down about it. I’ll converse in a breakout session on ministry to the susceptible on the margins, primarily immigrants and refugees. There has been fairly a bit stated about this convention right here at Voices and on social media, together with criticism from some as to why we might collect for this objective. But, once I take into consideration Martin Luther King and what he referred to as us to, I feel first about Montgomery, the place he began his ministry at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. I take into consideration a motion that didn’t start on December 1, 1955 or when he spoke at Holt Street Baptist Church for the primary mass assembly of the Montgomery Bus Boycott just a few days later. Rather, the motion I consider goes again additional, to slaves within the fields singing, “Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?” To human beings hoisted on to public sale blocks to be purchased and offered praying “God help me” underneath their breath. I don’t suppose nearly MLK himself. I take into consideration all that got here earlier than and what he referred to as us to. And, greater than that, I take into consideration the God who gave so a lot of them hope within the midst of huge abuse and oppression. I am going again a lot additional and I take into consideration a motion that basically started on the Cross, the Hinge of History.

Ever for the reason that Death and Resurrection of Jesus, we’ve been enjoying out a Redemption Story the place the Cross and Empty Tomb dangle over us. How will the reality of Jesus be manifested and revealed to every society and tradition and era at given instances and in particular locations? Montgomery has a component in that story, each for good and for sick. Martin Luther King, Jr. was part of that story for some time. So had been slaves, politicians, planters, and troopers. And many extra. But, past that’s Jesus, dying on a Cross for our sins, making intercession for transgressors, rising from the lifeless. The solely hope we’ve got for redemption, therapeutic, unity, and to interrupt the cycle created by the sins of the previous is the Cross of Christ.

Can we hear the query the African American slaves sang to us so way back, within the midst of their bondage? How will we reply at present? They converse.

“Where you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Jesus prays for transgressors. He prays for us.

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