How old do we have to be to understand the Gospel? I volunteered to help take a class of five year olds to the local church as part of their education. When we got there each child was given a worksheet with questions and one of the questions was what could they see in the large stained glass window at the front of the church? Many of the children had never been in a church before but they quickly recognised the first pane of the window showed Jesus as a baby and then the second pane showed Him dying on the cross.
The third pane depicted Jesus standing in victory holding aloft a flag and a Roman soldier fallen on the ground. In the background was a grey stone tomb. This was not so easy to understand.
I chatted to one little boy as he drew on his worksheet. When I told him that the window showed Jesus coming alive again after he had died on the cross and was buried in the tomb he was genuinely astonished and said “Did He really come alive again? Was Jesus special then?” And so in as simple words as possible I explained who Jesus was and why He had died on the cross.
The next day I was reading Luke’s account of what happened on the night Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. ‘And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’ (Luke 22:19-20). A little later on Jesus explained that Isaiah’s prophetic declaration had to be fulfilled: ‘For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment’ (Luke 22:37).
I’m sure Jesus was reminding His disciples of the whole of Isaiah’s prophecy and not just those few words. How beautiful that entire passage is from Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 but to me the message of the resurrection from the dead and the reason Jesus died on the cross is explained in verses 11-12. ‘Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:11-12 ESV).
It is interesting to me that the ‘Dead Sea scrolls’ and ‘the Septuagint’ version of the Bible have some additional words from ‘the Masoretic text’ and say ‘After the suffering of His soul, He shall see the light of life and be satisfied’ Isaiah 53:11, NIV). To think that all those years ago Isaiah was given words from God the Father which foretold the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. No wonder many have regarded the Book of Isaiah as the fifth Gospel, alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the amazing and wonderful Good News which was written in the Bible long before Jesus walked upon the earth. Thank You that Jesus fulfilled Your great plan and was willing to die on the cross. Thank You He took our place on that cross and that He makes intercession for us, the transgressors. Thank You that we can now be accounted as righteous in your sight. Amen.
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