Lectionary Commentary 1: Good Friday

February 19th, 2012

Isaiah 52:13–53:12

The passages for Good Friday present a look at the redemptive work of Christ that spans the centuries. In Isaiah 52:13, for instance, the prophet offers a stunning portrayal of the suffering servant of God, leading to the rhetorical question of 53:1—which is actually more of an exclamation than an inquiry—“Who has believed what we have heard?” The picture of that “servant of suffering” is a stark one, exceeded only by the harshness of our response to him. The servant may indeed be marked by grief and sorrow, but clearly, they are not his own. Rather, as verses 4-6 make plain, it is we who are the cause of his condition, as the servant has taken the sicknesses that belong to us and lifted them (nasa) upon himself.

Psalm 22

Psalm 22 presents the fate of God’s servant with even more disturbing detail, recording the haunting words that are quoted by Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (v. 1)? Similarly, the graphic imagery in verses 14 and 15 uncannily describes the physical effects that crucifixion imposed on its victims, and the notation in verse 18 of casting lots for the sufferer’s clothing foreshadows the events of Good Friday with alarming accuracy. Because of the particular potency that this psalm has for Christians, it is tempting to overlook its earlier Old Testament contexts. It is worth remembering, however, that God’s Word is often multidimensional, and such is the case here as well. For this psalm of David represents both a plea for deliverance and an affirmation of trust, applicable to both individuals and to nations, that in the end “dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations” (v. 28).

Hebrews 10:16-25

Hebrews 10:16-25 enlarges this idea, noting that it is specifically because of the sacrifice of Christ, “the blood of Jesus” (v.19), that a new way has been opened up for us all, allowing us to come to God in boldness. Our response to what Christ has done is subsequently indicated by the threefold exhortation of verses 22-24: “let us approach with a true heart . . . let us hold fast to the confession of our hope . . . let us consider how to provoke one another to love.”

comments powered by Disqus