One day when Jesus and his disciples were making their way from Galilee to Jerusalem, they came through Samaria.
The disciples went into one village to prepare for Jesus to come to that village and the people of that village did not want him.
Luke 9:54 says that when James and John saw this they asked Jesus, “do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”
If you look at human relationships, that is actually a pretty common response to trouble.
George Bush is thinking about attacking Iraq because Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with the United Nations.
When terrorists attacked the US, the world agreed that we needed a “war on terrorism.”
In hockey, some teams have players who are hired specifically because they like to fight and they are there to make sure that no one hurts their good players.
Violence, retaliation and revenge seem to be natural human responses to wrongs done.
Yet when James and John suggested this, the Bible says that “Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
We have been studying Isaiah the last few weeks and we would miss a significant part of Isaiah’s writing if we did not recognize the many messianic passages in the book.
It is important to realize that all the Messianic passages have a historical reference.
The prophecy is often made with a specific historical situation and person in mind but then also points forward to the coming Messiah.
Isaiah is quoted 48 times in the New Testament and 18 of those times refer specifically to the Messiah.
I am not sure of the exact numbers, but I suspect that Isaiah would be among the most quoted OT books in the NT.
As we examine the Messianic passages in Isaiah, it is amazing to see how specifically these messianic prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus.
As I studied the messianic passages this time, I was particularly struck with the many times it speaks about the kind of Messiah He would be.
The nature, work and style of the Messiah would be a radical departure from the way things had always been.
As we examine these passages this morning, I would invite you to give glory to Jesus.
As we examine what kind of a Messiah He was, we will also be invited to follow Him.
Ephesians 4:15 talks about how we need to grow up into Christ.
As we see what Jesus was like, we will have the opportunity to examine the words about the Messiah and examine our own lives to see if we are becoming like Him.
The Old Testament is a book of blood.
Killing, aggression and death are all around.
It begins with the murder of Abel by Cain and continues right through.
All the firstborn in Egypt died in order that Pharaoh’s hand would be forced so that he would let Israel go.
Israel killed many people in their conquest of the land, beginning with the destruction of the entire population of Jericho.
When they disobeyed God, the nations around Israel harassed them and killed many.
As they were faithful to God, he helped them many times to defeat these enemies.
We think of the trail of bodies as Gideon slaughtered the Midianites and when David killed Goliath, which led to the slaughter of many Philistines.
Eventually, as Israel continued in disobedience, blood flowed as the Assyrians came and besieged Samaria and scattered all the people of Israel and then years later when Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed Jerusalem and many people of Judah died.
The shedding of blood was natural for evil people.
However, even the relationship of the people of Israel to God was based on the shedding of much blood.
It is hard for us to imagine the number of animals which were killed daily, some of them to be used for food, but many of them killed and destroyed completely, just so that sins could be forgiven.
As I say, blood and aggression and violence were the order of the day when Isaiah lived.
All of these things were true as history and as living reality when Isaiah wrote what God gave him to write.
The Way Of The Messiah
But, as Isaiah writes about the Messiah, we see a completely new thing, a completely different way.
!! A. His Methods
Please turn to Isaiah 42:1-4 where it speaks of “my servant” which is the most common name used for the Messiah.
In contrast to the aggressive ways of the world and the blood of the Old Testament, the method of the Messiah would be one of gentleness.
I am particularly interested in the images used here.
The origin of them is a mystery, but there is little doubt that we can understand their message.
Isaiah 42:1 speaks about the fact that “the servant” will bring justice.
But these images help us understand what method he would use.
A bruised reed is a plant that is ready to be pulled up, there is no hope for it, but Jesus does not break it.
A smoldering wick is ready to go out.
It smokes and stinks and the best thing to do is to snuff it, but Jesus does not snuff it, he sees hope in the little glowing that is there.
In the Old Testament world, a new religion was always announced by a conqueror.
As a great general would conquer a people, he would bring a new god to them and force them to adopt that new god.
The method of Messiah would be completely different.
This passage is quoted about Jesus in Matthew 12:18-21.
The gentle ministry of Jesus is seen in the way he worked with people and welcomed all who came and encouraged any spark of hope.
He did so even to the extent of keeping with him the one whom he knew would betray him.
We need to imitate Christ in this gentle ministry.
Last week, we spent a week ministering to inner city children at Gem Lake.
The ministry of Inner City Youth is one that is a reflection of this method of Jesus.
I saw how the staff encourages hope in children and young people who are in very difficult situations.
They need a lot of patience with some of them and I was encouraged to be gentle as I watched this ministry.
The example of Jesus tells me that such gentleness is right.
Is our method one of gentleness?
!! B. His Path
The Messianic prophecies also speak of the path of the Messiah in Isaiah 52:13-15.
Once again it refers to “my servant” so we know it is talking about Messiah.
There are many things in this passage, but I would like you to take note of verse 14 which speaks of His suffering.
This verse is a “strong way of saying how great his suffering.”
The path of Messiah would not be a path of glorious victory.
It would not be the path of a hero who has muscles like Arnold Swartzenager or the face of Tom Cruise.
The path of Messiah would be, a path of suffering.
Once again, we see how this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus.
He was a man of sorrows.
He experienced rejection, beating and mockery.
He was willing to take this path of suffering because he knew that this was the way in which he would be able to accomplish the goal of bringing salvation to people.
When he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me,” this is the issue he was dealing with, but the path of suffering was the only way that God’s will would be accomplished.
As we think about imitating Christ, we also need to consider being willing to follow the path of Jesus.
Following Him will not necessarily be easy.
There are times when the path of the Christian is a path of suffering.
In Matthew 10:38, we are invited to “take up our cross” which is an invitation to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task God has for us.
It is the willingness even to follow the path of suffering if that is what God wants us to do, in order to serve Him.
!! C. His Work
The best known passage about the Messiah is in Isaiah 53.
It describes every significant aspect of the work of Messiah and is amazing in its detail.
As we look at this, we quickly are reminded of Jesus.
It is quoted in Matthew 8:17, Luke 22:37, John 12:38 and numerous other passages in the New Testament.
2 - grew up like a tender shoot - reminds us of his birth and childhood.
2 - no beauty to attract - reminds us that he came not as a king, but in humility.
3 - despised and rejected of men - reminds us of the rejection he experienced not only from his own brothers and sisters, but also from his whole nation.
9 - speaks of the burial of Messiah.
11 - of his resurrection.
There is much more here that reminds us of Jesus, but I would like to focus particularly on verses 4-6 which tells us of the core of His work.
Let us read these verses.
The amazing thing as we read this is to take note of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus.
He died in our place.
This is so firmly presented in this passage that we cannot miss it.
Notice that 7 times he says “he” and “our.”
For example, “he was pierced for our transgressions.”
Over and over again we are told what He did for us.
I read a story about a preacher who told about how he punished his children when they were small.