The Suffering Servant
This is a tough passage to read the week before Christmas. We desperately want Isaiah to be talking about Jesus as the suffering servant – so many of the analogies fit! And while it is natural to speculate on who Isaiah is actually writing about (was it Jesus? the nation of Israel? all of humanity?) we can focus on the message that comes through the text: a life following God will not be easy.
As servants of God, we know that the path is not simple and though we may try our hardest, there are times when we will end up suffering like the servant. Verse ten of the text reminds us “Through [the servant] the will of the Lord shall prosper.” God’s mission comes into the world in, with, and through this suffering. As followers of Christ, we are called to humble ourselves and make room for God to work through us. It is through this suffering that God is powerful. And though we may encounter a life where we are despised, rejected, afflicted, wounded, etc., we live knowing that death will not have the final word. Living a life of suffering is our calling, part of what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ. Knowing how the story ends, we can live into this calling with the knowledge of the promises of God to be with us and to overcome all pain and suffering in this world and the world to come.
Let us pray: Gracious and merciful God, remind us that suffering is a part of our call to be Christians and that our suffering is not in vain, but brings an opportunity for you to work in the world. Amen.
Kelley Jepsen is a senior M.Div student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, seeking ordination through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She is currently working as a Pastoral Intern at First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Minnesota.
©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.