Old Testament Prophecies: Isaiah
“Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Messiah would be crucified with criminals.”Matthew 27
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If you are like me, certain hymns and songs connect to memories from some part of your life. For me, Good Friday means singing “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” (Lutheran Service Book 451). This classic Holy Week hymn reminds me of my childhood, when all the Lutheran churches in my hometown would gather for a joint Good Friday service at noon in the civic auditorium. Children’s choirs from area Lutheran schools would sing together along with a mass choir made up of singers from all the area churches. This somber service was the beginning of a long weekend that ended in the joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah include a number of references to the suffering of the Savior. The words of “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” were inspired by the words of Isaiah 53. The hymn’s author, Thomas Kelly, used these scriptural prophecies as the basis for the first stanza.
I gave My back to those who strike, and My cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not My face from disgrace and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6)
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
In the Gospels, we see the fulfillment of these very specific prophecies:
Then they spit in His face and struck Him. And some slapped Him. (Matthew 26:67)
And Pilate again asked Him, “Have You no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against You.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15:4–5)
Now, it might seem strange to include a devotion about the suffering of Christ in the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth. However, these prophecies remind us that Jesus was born to suffer and die for the sins of all humankind. We can take joy in this knowledge as we prepare for the coming of our King.