When I watched “The Passion Of The Christ,” I was always wondering how the film would end. I was afraid that it might say too much and so not call for faith or that it would not say enough and ignore the resurrection. I was pleased with the way that it ended. There was enough of a hint of the resurrection in it to make you realize that Christ had risen, but not too much so that you still had to respond in faith. This is very much like the gospel of Mark which, if we accept the shorter reading, also gives us just a hint that Christ has risen and invites us to faith.
When you read the Bible, it is not the gospels that give us the clearest, theologically defended presentation of the resurrection, it is the letters, especially I Corinthians 15. After years of reflection and living in the resurrection, it was possible to make a clear and powerful theological statement about the good news that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and what that meant. Although we have a hint of the resurrection in the gospels and a full theological treatise of the resurrection victory in I Corinthians 15, the message that the Christ would have victory by rising from the grave is already declared in the Old Testament.
On Friday, we examined the suffering of His soul as we looked at the beginning part of Isaiah 53. Today, we will look at the message of the victory which God enacted through the death and resurrection of Christ. Our text will be Isaiah 53:10-12.
Read Isaiah 53:10-12
In this passage, there are five statements which more than hint at victory. Based on the sacrificial, willing death of Christ, these statements go beyond the sacrifice of Christ to the result of his sacrifice. These five statements encourage us with the fact and the meaning of the resurrection. May we rejoice and be encouraged in hope as we reflect on these truths. Let us meditate on what Christ’s resurrection victory means to us.
I. There Is A Future
A few months ago when I took my grandson to see my grandmother and we took a 5 generation picture, I thought about generations. Five generations is fairly rare, but it does happen. The occasion was a time of celebrating that the people who were there had lived long enough to see their children, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren. Such an event speaks of long life.
On Friday, we read in Isaiah 53:8, “who can speak of his descendants for he was cut off from the land of the living.” The prophecy speaks about the servant, whom we identify as Jesus, who was going to experience death. The way in which the poetry speaks about it is that he would not see his descendents for he would die before he was able to do so. One writer helps us understand how bad this was when he indicates that “In Jewish tradition to die without children was tragic,” so such a statement is sad and speaks of an ending. But that is not the whole story.
“A letter came from Health and Human Services to a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina: ‘Your food stamps will be stopped, effective March 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if your circumstances change.’" - S. Bowen Matthews
Well for Jesus, we discover that his circumstances did change. In Isaiah 53:8 it said, “who can speak of his descendants” but in Isaiah 53:10 we read, “he will see his offspring.” As we examine verse 10, we learn that “though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering” that is not the end of the story. There is the hint of victory here, the promise that there is a future, that the Messiah will see future generations.
Other Scriptures declare the same truth. John 12:24 says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” That is the life story and the victory of Jesus. Because he laid down his life and was raised again from the dead, He has many who are his offspring. In fact, we are that offspring. We experience the blessing of relationship with Jesus today, the confidence that He is interceding for us and the hope that we will see Him face to face one day. He will see His offspring and that is a great victory.
II. God’s Will Is Accomplished
It is always great to make a plan and see it accomplished. Whether it is a plan to take a trip, build something, crop your fields or organize an event, when we make the plan, work towards it and then accomplish it, there is great joy in that process.
God had a plan. Even before the world was established and before people walked away from God in sin, God’s was working on a plan. What was the plan or we might say the will of God? Many Scripture passages speak about this, let us look at a few.
In Ephesians 1:9,10, we learn that it is God’s will to have one ruler over all creation. We read, “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
Another statement of the will of God is declared by Jesus in John 6:37-39, “this is my Father’s will that I lose none of those whom he has given me.”
In Ephesians 1:5, God’s will is revealed as the desire to create a family which will be His family and which will love and follow Him. We read, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons…in accordance with his will.”
The victory which comes because of the voluntary death of the servant of the Lord is that, “the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand” as it says in Isaiah 53:10. When Christ died and rose, that happened. The accomplishment of the will of the Lord came about through Christ.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the different gospels record some of the words Jesus spoke. On Friday, we noticed that he recognized the awful separation from his Father when he cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In John 19:10 we have another of the words of Jesus recorded as he died. He said, “ “it is finished.” This did not mean “I’m dead and it’s over,” rather, it means, “the will of God has prospered in my hand.” I have done what I came to do.
Paul Hovey has written, “The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word.” This is victory!
III. Resurrection Is Promised
Up until this point in Isaiah 53, we have had hints of resurrection, but in verse 11, we have a declaration of resurrection when it says, “he will see the light of life.”
When the women and the other disciples stood at the foot of the cross, they were quite convinced that they would never see Jesus again. They saw him laid into the darkness of the tomb and the whole earth was covered in darkness. With him, all hope died - all hope for Israel, all hope for themselves, all hope for the human race. But as the promise in Isaiah declared, “He will see the light of life.” when they saw Him again - the women, Peter and John, the twelve and others - they knew that everything had changed, that victory had been gained.
The gospels report his resurrection and the rest of the New Testament also speaks of His resurrection. Acts 2:24 says, “God raised him from the dead.” Romans 6:9 assures us, “Christ was raised from the dead.” And Revelation 1:18 encourages, “I am the Living One I was dead and behold I am alive forever.”
James Kennedy writes, “For many centuries the men and women in Europe looked out upon the western sea, what we call the Atlantic Ocean, and they saw the sun coruscating upon the glittering surface of the waters and they wondered. They wondered if there was anything beyond. Scholars said that you could sail off the edge of the world--there was nothing out there at all. In fact, inscribed on the escutcheons of the coat of arms of the nation of Spain was its national motto, Ne Plus Ultra, meaning, "There is nothing beyond."
“One day Columbus went westering on the shiny waters. He sailed off into the sunset as people waited expectantly, and finally after a long time the sails reappeared and the crowds were exultant. They shouted with joy, and Columbus announced that there was a land beyond the sea that was rich beyond their dreams. It was a glorious paradise. The king of Spain changed the motto of that land until it reads as it does today, Plus Ultra, meaning, "There is more beyond."
“For many centuries innumerable people stood beside the dark hole that we call a grave and watched the remains of their loved ones lowered into the earth, and they wondered: Beyond the dark waters of death, is there anything beyond?
“Then one day, a young explorer went westering into the setting sun and descended into the blackness of the pit. He sailed off the edge of the world. People waited expectantly. Finally on this Resurrection morning, as the sun arose in the east, the Son of God stepped forth from a grave and declared, "There is something beyond. There is a paradise beyond your greatest expectations. And there awaits a heavenly Father, waiting with outstretched arms to wipe away every tear from your cheek." - D. James Kennedy, "Message from an Empty Tomb," Preaching Today, Tape No. 66.
The promise of resurrection described in the statement “he will see the light of life” encourages us with the message of the resurrection, but the statement goes on to say, “and be satisfied.” This statement helps us realize that the resurrection is more than historical fact, it is worldwide victory. In the declaration “and be satisfied” we understand that his resurrection was more than a miracle, it was the miracle that affirmed that now forgiveness and eternal victory were also a possibility. Hebrews 12:2 encourages us to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The satisfaction of the resurrection is the victory which has invited us to find
eternal hope in Jesus.
IV. Forgiveness Is Assured
A further element of victory declared in this passage is the assurance of sins forgiven. We go on to read in 53:11, “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities.”
NIV and most translations have “by his knowledge,” which is an accurate translation. It means that the one’s whom the servant knows or the things that the servant knows will result in the justification of many. It is also possible to translate this as the NIV margin does, “by knowledge of him” which means that if we know Him, we will be justified and our sins will be forgiven. However we translate it, the important truth to be understood and the victory which He has accomplished is that in Jesus forgiveness of sins and justification is assured.
Romans 3:23,24 reminds us of this wonderful truth. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…” The victory of the resurrection is that it assures us of forgiveness of sins.
Steve Winger from Lubbock, Texas, writes about his last college test a final in a logic class known for its difficult exams: To help us on our test, the professor told us we could bring as much information to the exam as we could fit on a piece of notebook paper. Most students crammed as many facts as possible on their 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper. But one student walked into class, put a piece of notebook paper on the floor, and had an advanced logic student stand on the paper.
The advanced logic student told him everything he needed to know. He was the only student to receive an "A."
We cannot be acceptable to God because of the answers we know or the life we have lived. The only way we will receive forgiveness of our sins and pass the exam that will let us into His presence is through a person - the person who gave His life and rose again so that we could receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
V. Victory Is Celebrated
The language of victory continues in verse 12 when we are told, “I will give him a portion among the great and he will divide the spoils with the strong.”
The language here is that of a military victory. Rather than the ignominy of defeat and the languishing with losers, the Messiah will be seen as victor. There are no spoils for the one who loses. In his death and resurrection, Christ has gained the victory. What are the spoils which he receives and distributes?
Matthew 12:28 tells us, “if I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come.” Colossians 2:15 indicates a similar victory over the evil powers when it speaks about, “Having disarmed the powers.”
Harold N. Miller points out, “Suppose you are alone in your house with your preschool children, and an intruder enters. If you doubt your power over the intruder, your love for your children offers no consolation, and your house becomes a place of terror. But if you have undisputed control, you don't mind someone coming into your house.
“The universe is God's house, and an Intruder has entered and is even now desecrating the house. Many times when we see him walking around, we are on the brink of terror. We need not fear, however, since he and our Father met head-on in combat in the tomb, and God emerged the undisputed Victor! We are safe from the Intruder. This is the message of Easter: the most fearsome enemies we can face have been overpowered by the One who loves us.”
Ephesians 4:8-11 uses the language of spoils of war to describe how the life of the church is lived. Here we see how Christ’s victory over sin and death has resulted in his giving gifts to the church for the work to which he has called them. There we read, “Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” … And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…”
The other spoils of war which come with the resurrection is our resurrection. The verse from I Corinthians 15:20 which is on our bulletin today reminds us that “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Military imagery may make us a little uncomfortable because victory is usually gained though violence done to others resulting in the defeat and demoralization of the enemy by force. In the last few verses of this chapter, we are once again reminded of the amazing way in which Jesus gained the victory. We are reminded that he “poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.” As a result, “he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressor.”
The victory of God, was promised long before the coming of Messiah. In Isaiah we read that because he gave his life as an offering, he will see his offspring, the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand, he will see the light of life, through his knowledge, many will be made righteous and he will be seen victorious as he divides the spoil with the strong. When Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled every one of these promises. Therefore, today we have gathered together to celebrate the victory of God accomplished in Jesus Christ.
On the Easter just before he died, D. William Sangster painfully printed a short note to his daughter. A deeply spiritual Methodist, he had been spearheading a renewal movement in the British Isles after World War II. Then his ministry, except for prayer, was ended by a disease which progressively paralysed his body, even his vocal chords. But the last Resurrection Sunday he spent on earth, still able to move his fingers, he wrote: "How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, 'He is risen!' Far worse, to have a voice and not want to shout." - James S. Hewett
Because it is victory, resurrection is a cause of thanksgiving! A cause of new living! A cause for hope! Let us shout in celebration.
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!