This account of the good news is brought to you by the prophet Isaiah and the wordsmith Eugene Peterson:
Good Friday (Is 53)
1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this?
2 The servant grew up before God–a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.
3 He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
4 But the fact is, it was our pains he carried– our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.
5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him–our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
6 We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
7 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.
8 Justice miscarried, and he was led off– and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
9 They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.
10 Still, it’s what GOD had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it–life, life, and more life. And GOD’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
11 Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
12 Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly– the best of everything, the highest honors– Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Easter Sunday (Is 61)
1 The Spirit of GOD, the Master, is on me because GOD anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
2 GOD sent me to announce the year of his grace– a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies– and to comfort all who mourn,
3 To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by GOD to display his glory.
4 They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.
5 You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields,
6 But you’ll have the title “Priests of GOD,” honored as ministers of our God. You’ll feast on the bounty of nations, you’ll bask in their glory.
7 Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
8 “Because I, GOD, love fair dealing and hate thievery and crime, I’ll pay your wages on time and in full, and establish my eternal covenant with you.
9 Your descendants will become well-known all over. Your children in foreign countries Will be recognized at once as the people I have blessed.”
10 I will sing for joy in GOD, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.
11 For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, So the Master, GOD, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.
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