Daily Devotion – September 21, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Isaiah 50:4-9a
50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
50:6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
50:7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

This passage of Isaiah must have been a comfort to Jesus during Holy Week, and especially that Thursday night when he was arrested, taunted, tortured, and prepared for his death on Good Friday.

If you think of Jesus as a person of the Triune God, he had emptied himself of all God-ness to become human. He lived a totally human life and suffered everything human beings suffer. He built a ministry with 12 friends and healed hundreds, maybe thousands of people, just by emptying himself and becoming a conduit for the power of God to touch human lives. This human Jesus learned to trust in the power of God for everything. He was teaching his disciples to do the same, while he was living out what Old Testament scriptures had predicted about the Messiah, scriptures like this passage of Isaiah. He called it fulfilling the prophesies.

Jesus gave his life over to God’s work on earth. He knew he would be saved by God, vindicated and never let down. And so he got on with the work, doing it so that God would be glorified. He never looked back.

What would it be like to live such a life? We can admire it in others. Could we do it ourselves? What would it take to empty ourselves daily to the purposes of God, always listening for God to tell us what to pay attention to as it crossed our path that day? Could you or I try it, even just for this afternoon? Could we then say “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced”? Whatever risks we took, God would bless us and the work we were doing.

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us your Son’s story to help us understand what you call us to do. Help us to try listening for your calling, emptying ourselves to your work, and then feeling your help and strength to keep us going.   Amen.