On the first Easter Day, Jesus walked to Emmaus with two confused, perplexed and dismayed men. “[B]eginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27). Countless books and sermons have grappled with this question of what Moses and the Prophets said concerning Jesus, the Messiah. But Jesus would only have had a few hours to explain it to these men. What are the highpoints of what the Prophets said about Jesus, the Messiah?
On the first Easter Day, two troubled men walked and talked. They were traveling about seven miles from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus.
A man came up and walked with them. It was Jesus! But “they were kept from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:16).
They were confused, perplexed and dismayed.
The men explained to the stranger walking with them that:
Jesus “was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19).
They had hoped Jesus “was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21).
Nevertheless, during the past week, evil people tortured and killed Jesus.
Yet this morning, close followers of Jesus were saying that Jesus was alive! His tomb was empty!! (Luke 24:22-24).
Like so many confused, perplexed and dismayed people today, the men had seen and heard the truth about Jesus—the Truth about the Messiah. But they did not perceive or understand what they were seeing, hearing and feeling. (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:13-15; Acts 28:25-28).
Jesus said to them:
“‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).
By the time Jesus was done, the men were eager to race back to Jerusalem to share the good news about Jesus.
Countless books and sermons have grappled with this question of what Moses and the Prophets said concerning Jesus, the Messiah. But Jesus would only have had a few hours to explain it to these men.
What are the highpoints of what the Prophets said about Jesus, the Messiah?
Nowadays, Jesus could have streamed Handel’s Messiah onto his mobile device! Many of the lyrics come from the Prophets—accompanied by some of the most moving and memorable music ever composed and performed.
But Handel hadn’t written The Messiah yet. There wasn’t any streaming technology. There weren’t any mobile devices.
So, which part of the voluminous prophesies about him did Jesus unpack in a few hours for these two confused, perplexed and dismayed men?
The Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah are among the portions of the Scriptures that speak of the Messiah.
Like poetry, the power of these prophesies consists of the many applications of their eternal truths.
Think of Robert Frost’s famous line about two roads diverging in a yellow road. He chose the one less traveled. And that made all the difference.
There are many applications of such poetic truths.
Sometimes we are choosing literal hiking trails. Other times we are choosing our faith. Our education. Our career. Our home. Our politics.
When listing such poetic insights, always link them together by using the word “and”.
Never pick-and-choose among poetic insights by using the word “or”.
Never exclude poetic insights by other people, and by yourself at other times and under other circumstances.
Because one understanding and application of a poem does not exclude other understandings and applications.
Similarly, there are multiple understandings and applications of the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. (Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 49:1-6; Isaiah 50:4-7; Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
There are the original, literal people who heard the Songs of the Suffering Servant during desperate times such as military defeat and exile.
There are blameless Jews who have been suffering servants of the LORD God—most recently in the Holocaust.
There are blameless followers of the Way of Jesus who have been suffering servants of the LORD God—most recently at the hands of religious and political extremists.
But on that first Easter Day, the Songs of the Suffering Servant perfectly described Jesus as the Suffering Servant—as the One who would redeem Israel and, indeed, all Humanity!
Here are some of the most fitting descriptions in the Songs of the Suffering Servant:
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight.
I will put my Spirit on him. (Isaiah 42:1)
[The LORD] said to me, “You are my servant Israel,
in whom I will display my splendor.” . . . .
And now the LORD says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant . . .
to gather Israel to himself
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD
and my God has been my strength—
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant . . .
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light to [non-Jews]
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
The Sovereign LORD has given me a
to know the word that sustains the weary. . . .
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
See, my servant shall act wisely; . . . .
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by [Humanity],
a [person] of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised,
and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him,
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. . . . .
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and
cause him to suffer . . .
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant
will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities. . . .
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
(Isaiah 52:13; 53:2-5,10-13).
In this Way of pain and suffering, the Servant will eventually fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that the LORD will create new heavens and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17).
Once again, as in Chapters One and Two of Genesis, Light and Life will overcome Darkness and Chaos.
As Isaiah foresaw, Creation will become a Delight and Humanity will become a Joy. (Isaiah 65:18).
The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard no more. (Isaiah 65:19).
The wolf and the lamb will feed together. (Isaiah 65:25).
Because, as Isaiah foresaw, the LORD will teach Humanity his ways so that we walk in his paths. (Isaiah 2:3):
The [Law of Moses] will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
There’ll be no more confusion, perplexity or dismay!
Because—like the two men—Humanity will no longer be confused, perplexed or dismayed.
We’ll race back to “Jerusalem”.
Where Jesus will take away our troubles and doubts.
Where Jesus will tell us: “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36-37).
For additional insights about the men on the road to Emmaus, please read my blogs “Overcoming Oceans of Hopeless Confusion”, “What Did Moses and the Prophets Say Concerning the Messiah?”, and “What Did Moses Say Concerning the Messiah?”.
To learn more about how Jesus fulfilled all the Scriptures concerning the Messiah, please read my book Hoping in the LORD, especially the chapters “Mary and Joseph Lose Jesus in Jerusalem”, “Jesus Is Tempted”, “Jesus Preaches in His Hometown of Nazareth”, “Jesus Tells His Disciples He Must Die”, “Jesus Drives the Merchants Out of the Temple”, “Jesus Allows Himself To Be Arrested Without a Fight”, “Jesus Tells the High Priest that He Is the Messiah”, and “Jesus Forgives His Enemies and Trusts God”, at pages 53-64, 71-91, 111-115, 171-173, 223-227, 259-266, 267-275, 287-293.
Sometimes, Isaiah 61:1-3 is also counted as one of the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. This passage about “the Spirit of the LORD is upon me” was central to Jesus’s ministries as he described them in his sermon at the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. (Luke 4:14-21).