During Holy Week, most of our devotions will focus on the readings from Isaiah. Our devotion today is from Concordia Commentary: Isaiah 40–55.
Matthew 26:1–27:66 or John 12:1–23
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
When he recounts his commissioning (49:1–6), Israel’s substitute Servant indicates that his mission might appear to have been a wasted effort because of humanity’s antipathy (49:4). In the Third Servant Song, the disappointment grows into physical pain and torture. He willingly surrenders his back, cheeks, and face to his tormenters (50:6), yet he is fiercely determined to accomplish the Lord Yahweh’s will.
It is easy to begin. It is tough to finish. We are great at beginning. Unbridled enthusiasm, high energy, a never-say-die spirit. Like hot knives into butter, we tear into new projects, new classes, and new relationships. But as time goes on, we get weary and fatigued. “It’s a bore, a snore, a chore,” until we say, “No more!”
The Suffering Servant began strong, and he finished strong. He set his face like flint (50:7). And for him it was tougher than nails. Because in addition to the nails, there was scourging, mocking, spitting, beating, slapping, sweating, and bleeding. Still, he finished valiantly and victoriously—despite his disciple’s kiss of betrayal, his friends running for cover, his countrymen clamoring for his death, and even the temporary abandonment by his Father while he hung on the cross.
Look. The sky is dark. Two criminals, one on his right and one on his left, are slowly dying. There he is, in the middle, taking a deep breath and speaking his last word. John records it: . . . “it is finished” (Jn 19:30). The veil is rent. The blood is poured. The curse is removed. The sacrifice is complete. Death is defeated. And paradise is restored. Was [“it is finished”] a cry of defeat? By no means! This is a cry of victory. For us, it means a Father’s welcome, a Shepherd’s embrace, and a Friend’s infinite love. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ prove that though it was tougher than nails, he finished—for us. . . .
A faithful finish does not mean finishing first or finishing without disappointment and regret. A vigorous finish comes by daily listening for the Word that sustains the weary (Is 50:4). It is ours when we entrust our lives to the Servant (50:10). “He who began a good work in you will finish it on the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). His faithful finish on Good Friday led to Easter glory, securing our resurrection when he returns.
Devotional reading is from Concordia Commentary: Isaiah 40–55, pages 524–25 © 2011 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
The guilt of sinners bearing
And, laden with the sins of earth,
None else the burden sharing;
Goes patient on, grow weak and faint,
To slaughter led without complaint,
That spotless life to offer,
He bears the stripes, and wounds, the lies,
The mockery, and yet replies,
“All this I gladly suffer.”
Hymn text is from LSB 438:1 and is copyright © 1941 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.