Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vindication For Joy & Rejoicing (part 3)

This mention of “sorrow” should vaults the conscious reader to a recollection of the “suffering servant” of Isaiah, thus providing (along with Jesus before He would come to His time of suffering) a more fully-rounded sense of what these sorrows would and did entail.  The verses that follow remind the modern reader of the letter to the Hebrews and the great High Priest that is able to sympathize with the human weaknesses that continue to be experienced by the covenant people(4:15), the Gospel of Luke and Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem (19:41), and the Gospel of John and Jesus weeping within the story of the raising of the one whom He loved (11:35), as one finds “When they were sick, I wore sackcloth, and refrained from eating food.  I mourned for them as I would for a friend or my brother.  I bowed down in sorrow as if I were mourning for my mother” (Psalm 35:13a,14). 

Unfortunately, Jesus did not receive complete reciprocity in these matters, and because of that He could say, “when I stumbled, they rejoiced and gathered together; they gathered together to ambush me” (35:15a).  As He would begin to undergo the various inflictions of physical brutality---the whip that would be endured as He made His way to His ultimate vindication---Jesus could maintain His reflection on this Psalm and its words in which “They tore at me without stopping to rest” (35:15b).  As He stumbled under the weight of the beam that He is reported to have attempted to carry to Golgotha, Jesus would remember “When I tripped, they taunted me relentlessly, and tried to bite me” (35:16). 

Again, it is necessary to pause to remember that this particular adversary is not death, at least not directly, but rather it is men presumably corrupted by the power of darkness, as that darkness attempted to assert its power over the one that would eventually come to be recognized and called the Son-of-God-in-power (Romans 1:4 – contra Caesar).  Jesus could cry out “O Lord, how long are you going to just stand there and watch this?  Rescue me from their destructive attacks; guard my life from the young lions!  Do not let those who are my enemies for no reason gloat over me!  Do not let those who hate me without cause carry out their wicked schemes!  They are ready to devour me; they say, ‘Aha!  Aha!  We’ve got you!” (35:17,19,21)  In all this, Jesus does not call for divine retribution against His human antagonists.  He always knew who and what was the true enemy from which He sought and hoped for vindication.  
Even if He did speak such words that were, in essence, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass for Me” (Matthew 26:39b), the watchword over all of this, as Jesus endured the great painful and shaming ordeal on behalf of Israel and the creation, is “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (26:39c). The will of the Father, of course, can be found in what follows in this Psalm, which is “take notice, Lord!  O Lord, do not remain far from me!  Rouse yourself, wake up and vindicate me!  My God and Lord, defend my just cause!  Vindicate me by Your justice, O Lord my God!” (35:22-24a) 

This vindication would ultimately be the Resurrection, as Jesus would march forth from the tomb into a new world---that being the inaugurated kingdom of God on earth---in which the hosts of heaven were marshaled to witness His victorious coronation as King, and in which Jesus would honor the faithful Father for His vindicating justice, saying “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You before a large crowd of people!” (35:18) 

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