Thursday, March 11, 2021

Intercessor: He Prays for Us


Isaiah 5O:4-1O

The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.   He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.   The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.   I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.   For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I shall not be ashamed.   He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me?  Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me?  Let him draw near to Me.   Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me?  Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them.   Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light?  Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

The Fourth Wednesday in Lent                    3/10/21

Jesus Servant of Us All

"Intercessor  --  He Prays for Us"

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

In this series of sermons we are looking at the Suffering Servant.  We cannot look at the vision of Isaiah without seeing Jesus.  That is for two reasons; first, Isaiah himself was seeing Jesus and prophesying about Him, although Isaiah never heard the name, and secondly because we do know Jesus and we can see more clearly than Isaiah the One of whom he was speaking.

Now as you consider this passage, you might wonder where the Intercessor comes in.  We see something about a disciple, and a description of some of the passion of our Lord, but the intercessor doesn't seem to appear.  When He comes into view is in the words about the tongue of the disciples and the open ear.  Those images are the images of us praying to Him.  And what does He do but call upon His Father to bless us and help us.  The message of this text is that God does help.

But we really want to have more than just the generic hope of the help of God.  We find we need an intercessor.  And we have one!  Jesus prays for us.  He is God, and worthy of our prayers, and yet He prays for us.  Many times when we get to thinking about God, I think we picture Him as some sort of cosmic C.E.O..  He is ruling and He is to be obeyed.  Those things are, of course, true.  But there is more to the story here.  Jesus said Himself that He had not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.  In many ways nothing has changed.  Just because Jesus has accomplished all for our salvation, that doesn't mean that now He is done serving us.  Thank God!

Surely we have not changed.  We still are weak and sinful, and we need the help of God.  Our enemies are still the same -- sin, death, and hell.  Satan still storms about.  The world still lures us with the false and empty promise of pleasure that will make it all worthwhile.  Our flesh still craves and lusts and would lead us into many and various dangers and sins.  Our need for His help has not changed

Jesus hasn't changed either.  He is still True God and True Man -- our Savior.  His love which brought Him to do so much and bear so much for us those long years ago is still bright and powerful.  He still holds out the same sweet professions of love and promises to bless and aid and rescue us.  His will is still to seek and to save the lost.  He still has the heart and compassion of the Good Shepherd.  He has laid down His life, and now He would complete His work by doing all that we need done, even now, that we might be His own and live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as Luther teaches in His Catechism.

He has the lips of the disciples.  When we pray according to His will, He is praying through us.  Our intercessions for one another are also His.  One of the delightful mysteries of the faith is that we are given the high, holy privilege of sharing in the work of Christ.  He lives in us and works in us and through us in the world.  We give voice to His love and prayer, just as we give voice to His Word in preaching and witnessing, and as we give flesh to His love by serving one another in love for Christ s sake.

Intercession seems almost to be the life of Jesus.  It certainly was a powerful focus of His life and ministry.  Prayer is one of His most frequently mentioned activities in Scripture.  Luke 5:16 even tells us, But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.  He taught about prayer often -- the Lords Prayer, the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge, and many other teachings.  And He prayed for us and others.

For example, look into the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17.  He prays there for the disciples and - explicitly - not just for them but for us--John 17:20, "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for Those also who believe in Me through their word." He prayed for the disciples as He faced the hour of His suffering, both before the agony of the cross, and from the throne of the cross itself.  We see the Intercessor's heart in Jesus as He approaches Jerusalem, grieving over its coming destruction, and recalling how often He would have gathered them, the people of Jerusalem, and healed them, and saved them, but they were unwilling.

We also have the promise of the Intercessor.  Hebrews 7:25 speaks about the High Priest s Office of intercession, speaking directly of Jesus, "Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."  Think about that.  He lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him!  Sometimes we chafe because we are told that our lives are meant to be lives of service to Him and to one another - and we want to take time and energy and resources for ourselves.  Yet our Lord still lives in order to serve us - Jesus, Servant of us all!  He lives to make intercession, even in glory!  And of course we have that most comforting and delightful passage in Romans 8 about how God, who cares for us and serves us, turns all things to our blessing.  In the midst of the wonderful words of reassurance of Romans 8, we have these comforting words.  "Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us."

We also have the promise of Jesus that God the Father will listen to us.  In the Gospels He repeatedly reassures us that God will listen to us, but even here in the prophecy, He tells us that "the Lord God has opened [His] ear", and a verse later the Prophets speaks the Word of the Suffering Servant that "God Helps [Him]."

Finally, in this text we have the reason why God will listen to Jesus on our behalf.  It is His obedience to the Father, obedience even to death.  It is that which establishes the certainty that the Lord God will listen to Him.  I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.  I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.  It was the service of Jesus on Good Friday, specifically, that assures us that the prayers of our Intercessor are heard.  For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint.  And I know that I shall not be ashamed.  He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Mel Let him draw near to Me.  Behold, the Lord God helps me; who is he who condemns me?  The words of Paul in Romans 8:32 even echo the words of the prophet here.

Jesus served us throughout His earthly life, and He still serves us even today.  He served us with His life and prayers then.  He served with His death and words from the cross.  And even now He serves us with intercessions at the right hand of the Father.  We can pray with complete confidence that God is listening to us, and answering our every prayer, because we know that Jesus is praying with us.  God will hear and answer, because Jesus - His only-begotten and beloved Son is the Servant of us all, even as He is truly Lord of all.

Our text ends with words of comfort and assurance that we need in our times of need.  Who is among you That fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks In darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.  These are words of comfort because they carry that familiar and always welcome promise - Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.

For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.

Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there.

But the humble will inherit the land, And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

We need to pause in this busy world, and in this busy season of Lent, and consider Jesus in all that He has done for us.  The Servant, suffering, and dying, and glorified, and yet He continues to serve us by praying for us and assuring us that His Father will hear us and answer every prayer.  Jesus is not simply high and mighty and reigning -- although He is every bit of that.  He is also listening, and praying for us - and with us - and through us.  He is Lord of all and King above all kings, and yet, and this is the glory of Lent and the most profound comfort we can have in our times of need and trial, He is still Jesus, Servant of Us All, our Intercessor.  He still prays for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,
(Let the people say "Amen".)

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