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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Whenever I enter uncharted territory … a new school, job, or home for example … it always helped to have someone help bolster my confidence.  When I went to my first school as a little kid, my buddy next-door went with me.  It gave me great confidence knowing he was there.  Two years later, I moved to Arizona and had to go to a new school all alone.  I was terrified.  Until I met Jeff … or actually he met me because he was assigned to be my “buddy.”  Jeff and I became friends and shared a lot of great times on the playground at Lulu Walker Elementary School.  It truly helped to have a buddy when I entered that new territory.

In our walk of Christian faith, it can also be daunting to go it alone.  There seems to be both subtle and, at times, not so subtle hostility toward Christian faith in the world.  So, it can also be easy to simply go through life quietly, not making any waves, in order to avoid being harassed.  Isaiah was called by God to tell the people in his own country, to include its kings, that they were acting in open rebellion toward God and His Word.  This was difficult work indeed, but God was with him throughout. 

In Isaiah 50:4-10, God reveals His love for us by telling us that He has sent someone to help us navigate through the unfriendly and uncharted territory of our lives in this world.  This someone is the “Suffering Servant” … one who knows all that God commands AND lives in total obedience to these commands.  Isaiah writes that the Suffering Servant says, “The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.  I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. (Isaiah 50:5-6) A servant who does not rebel … who does not turn back from God’s task for Him.  Here, as well as other places in Isaiah, the Suffering Servant is identified by the way He lived out His earthly ministry as Jesus Christ, our savior.  As God, He knows everything.  As God, He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s commandments.  As man, He also willing submitted to beatings, whippings, spitting, and, of course, crucifixion. (Matthew 26:67-68, 27:26) Through it all, despite the powers of the world allied against Him, Jesus was not alone … His Father was there by His side, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced … He who vindicates me is near.” (Isaiah 50:7-8)

Jesus took the sins of the world, including your sins and mine, upon Himself.  Yet, despite this, He was vindicated by His Father.  Therefore, you and I are also cleared of all blame and eternal consequences for our sins.  As the Father stood by His Son Jesus, Jesus, the Suffering Servant stands by us as we “walk in darkness and (have) no light.”   Darkness is scary, but as we “trust in the name of the Lord god and rely on (Him)” (Isaiah 50:10) He is with us in all things.

                                                                               In Christ’s Love,

                                                                               Pastor Jim