To be a good teacher, one must first and always be a good learner. You don’t have to teach very long to discover that your students are your most immediate teachers. This is true at every level of teaching, in both formal and informal settings. This truth can be humbling in a deep and enriching way, or it can lead to humiliation for the teacher who thinks they have nothing more to learn, especially from a student. Isaiah knows this and sees every awakening into a new day as a call to be both a listener and a learner. He declares that it is the Lord who opens his ear. Because of that, he listens all the more intently.
This openness to listen and learn turns violent in this passage. And we cannot read this passage without seeing Jesus at his mock trial. Jesus takes Isaiah’s openness to listen and learn to heart. Humility may well face humiliation when it confronts the haughty and insecure. Here, in this passage, and in Jesus’ living it, humility faces humiliation seemingly in obedience to God. Isaiah was not rebellious and did not hide his face from spitting. Before we can ask it, this passage of scripture answers the question of how far we have to take the humility to which God calls us.
But humiliation cannot put humility to shame because the Lord God is our help. Therefore, we can commit ourselves fully to humility in response to God’s call on our lives to teach the world about Jesus, to live the gospel, and to believe with our lives the teaching of Christ. He who vindicates us is near (v 8).
Teachers, be learners. Learn humility from Jesus, even as his humility leads to humiliation on the cross. On the cross, Jesus’ humility put sin-s humiliation to shame. Learn the truth about humility. It is costly; it is Christ-like; it is the hope of the world. We have been called to it. We are to grow in Christ-likeness. It is a humbling thought, soaked in the possibility of humiliation by a world that cannot tolerate more than small doses of humility.
Opponents and adversaries can rise up, but they cannot remain standing when confronted by the Lord God who is near us and helps us. The Adversary’s great victory was his great defeat-the cross. Humiliation cannot defeat humility; God will not allow it. So we wade in, living lives made ever more humble by ever increasing Christ-likeness.
Sin would humiliate us and shame us, declaring us guilty beyond redemption. But the one who teaches teachers to listen, the one who invites us into every day to learn, the one who calls us to humility is near us, with us, and helps us. And humility in us teaches the world about the shame of humiliating others in any way. How can we teach when there is so much to learn? The Lord God helps us.
Open my ears, set my face like flint, and help me.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
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