Jesus In Isaiah
My dad was not hesitant to reach out to all kinds of people, and that’s how he got me connected with a rabbi in Florida. “Dave, you’ve got to write to my rabbi friend.” I was happy to do it and we began to correspond. Things went well when we stuck to the need for mutual understanding, freedom to worship, and the support of Israel. When I suggested we start working through Isaiah 52:13-53:12, he was open until I strongly presented that his Jewish Scriptures in this passage did present a Messiah who would die—the innocent for the guilty—and his death would bring divine forgiveness for those who would trust in the sacrifice of this innocent sufferer. “You’re trying to convert me!” And that ended our correspondence.
Of course I was trying to get him to see that Isaiah was describing Jesus hundreds of years before he was born in Bethlehem. In this I was simply following the lead of a first century Jew named Philip who climbed up in a chariot and used Isaiah to point the treasurer of Ethiopia to Jesus.
“The portion of Sacred Scripture he was reading aloud was this— ‘As a sheep led to slaughter and as a lamb before its shearers is silent, he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation his justice was taken away.
Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.’ - Isaiah 53:7-8
The eunuch said to Philip, ‘My question for you is this, is the prophet speaking about himself or someone else?’ So Philip opened his mouth and beginning from that passage communicated the Good News telling the Eunuch that the passage was about Jesus.
Now as they were traveling down the road, they came upon some water. The eunuch said, ‘Look, water. What prevents me from being baptized?’
He commanded the chariot to stop, together they stepped out of the chariot into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they had come up out of the water, the Spirit of God snatched Philip away and the eunuch never saw him again. But he proceeded down the road rejoicing. And Philip showed up in Azotus, passing through, he was proclaiming the Good News in all the cities where he went until he came to Caesarea.” Acts 8:32-40
Luke won’t tell us about Philip again until Acts 21:8-9. There we will discover that he settled down in Caesarea and his four daughters were prophetesses who, like their dad, followed Jesus.
LORD, I continue to pray for this rabbi friend who shut me down when I tried to follow Philip’s example and point to Jesus as the fulfillment of this suffering servant passage in Isaiah. It means a lot that though there are those who cut off the discussion, there are also others, like the eunuch, who open their hearts and receive your Son.
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