In this Lenten study, we will be looking at Isaiah’s Book of Consolation contained in Isaiah 40-55 with a specific focus on the four Suffering Servant Songs found in Isaiah 42:1-4, Isaiah 49:1-6, Isaiah 50:4-9, and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. For background, I am using The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah by Christopher North, excerpts from The Prophets by Abraham Heschel, and a chapter from The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. This Lenten lesson covers four weeks.
Out of this profound sense of despondency, the prophet comes to proclaim God’s redemption of his people and to give them an understanding of the divine economy and the role that suffering plays. And so he begins with the proclamation of “Comfort, Comfort, ye my people.”
For the Gospel writers, this description of the Servant proclaims Jesus. For it is Jesus who ultimately fulfills the prophet’s words.
The exile and the estrangement are caused by sin, and yet God pronounces that He blots our transgressions, and no longer remembers our sins.
We see in Jesus the fulfillment of this Servant Song. But ultimately, the Servant’s mission is achieved in us, the Church.
It is the image that now the time has come to be delivered. Now is the time that God has chosen to intervene in history to bring salvation to his people. This is the same understanding we have when Jesus enters Jerusalem on the colt.
The parallels between the experience of the Servant and Jesus’s Passion are unmistakable.
After the final Suffering Servant Song, Isaiah gives us a foretaste of Easter morning with a beautiful Song of Peace and Assurance and a Song of Joy and Triumph.
In this last Song, the Servant suffers silently and vicariously on behalf of others. He bears their griefs and sorrows, their transgressions and iniquities. And, in this Song, the Servant’s death is spoken of. But it is within this suffering and death, that the nations see and come to understand God.