Perils of Pride #13: Humility of Sacrifice

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(NIV)

I would like to begin today with the words of a familiar hymn.

Man of Sorrows! What a name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

This song by Phillip Bliss demonstrates the futility of any pride a sinner might have when faced with the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. What could we possibly do to merit salvation or in any way assist in obtaining our salvation? Nothing! Left to ourselves, we don’t even know we stand in need of salvation. Notice how Bliss describes the plight of the sinner: “ruined sinners”, “guilty, vile, and helpless”. In Isaiah 53:6, we are described as wandering sheep “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (NIV) Notice the universality of our wandering – “we all, like sheep, have gone astray”. No one is exempt. There is no one who desires to follow after God. And also notice the instinct of our wandering – “we all, like sheep, have gone astray”. It is not that we made a decision to reject Christ and then wandered away. It is in our nature to wander away without ever considering the Savior.

But the plight is worse still for the sinner. Before we were drawn by God to a hatred of our sin and a love for the Savior, how did we view the Christ upon the cross? In Isaiah 53:2-4 we are told

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
(NIV)

We saw no beauty or majesty in the Savior. We hid our faces in disgust as he hung on the cross for us. We rejected his love, his appeal to us to turn from our sins. We saw the cross as a sure sign of the hatred of God poured out upon Jesus Christ. If we had been there in our unregenerate state, we would have stood in line to spit in our Savior’s face. How can we possibly have any pride knowing how we viewed our Savior in our hearts before our heart of stone was removed and we were given a heart of flesh?

In Romans 5:6-8 we are told

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
. (NIV)

In the face of our ignorance, in the face of our rejection, and in the face of our scorn, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. What a sacrifice! It would be understandable if Jesus sacrificed himself because we were good and worthy of dying for, but Jesus sacrificed himself for us while we were still sinners – his enemies. There was a brilliant transaction which occurred for each and every Christian as Jesus hung upon the cross. Isaiah 53:5 describes it like this “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (NIV) Phillip Bliss uses the following phrases to describe what happened: “In my place condemned He stood; Sealed my pardon with His blood.” We were given peace with God and healing for our sin-sick souls. Again, in the words of Phillip Bliss, we were given “Full Atonement!” The price for our sins was paid in full.

How could Jesus Christ condescend to suffer humiliation at the hands of men? Isaiah chapter 53 is replete with descriptions of how Jesus Christ willingly suffered at the hands of men. He was despised and rejected. He was oppressed and afflicted. He was led away to be slaughtered. He was falsely accused and wrongly judged. And how did he respond? How did the one man who had the power to summon twelve legions of angels to his aide respond when he was assailed by wicked men? Isaiah 53:7 tells us “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (NIV)

I ask the question again: How could Jesus Christ condescend to suffer humiliation at the hands of men? It seems to me that there are at least four good answers to this question.

First, Jesus willingly suffered humiliation at the hands of wicked men because this was God’s purpose from the foundation of the earth. Peter states in Acts 2:23 “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (NIV)

Second, Jesus willingly suffered humiliation at the hands of wicked men because that was the will of his Father. And Jesus was completely obedient to the will of his Father. Romans 5:19 tells us “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (NIV)

Third, Jesus willingly suffered humiliation at the hands of wicked men because there was a prize greater than the suffering waiting for him on the other side. Hebrews 12:2 tells us “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)

Fourth, Jesus willingly suffered humiliation at the hands of wicked me because he was humble. Paul writes in Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (NIV)

It seems to me that there is an example for each of us to follow in the list of four things just given. Just as Jesus humbled himself and willingly sacrificed his bodily life, so should we do the same, and for the same reasons. God has a purpose for us that may require us to undergo suffering or persecution. Humbly accept it. God requires our complete obedience in all things. Humbly obey him. There is a greater joy waiting for those who persevere through the trials of this life. Humbly press on to that prize. The pride in our life stands in the way of all these things. Strive for humility.

By Berean Husband


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