I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
On a daily basis I do everything in my power to avoid confrontation. I love peace and I love pacifying. I like the Christ who calms the waters; he and I could be really good friends.
However, a distinctly different Christ is waiting to be found within Isaiah’s depiction of the Suffering Servant. The verse gives us a vision of one who does not merely endure suffering and confrontation, but one who offered his body up for the suffering. We see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision in Christ, who consistently refuses to capitulate to the expectations of those around him: the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, Herod, Pilate, and even the Devil. Christ gives his back to be beaten, he presents his beard to be torn, and he offers his face for mocking and spitting. All of this occurs without resentment, bitterness, or revenge.
What, then, is our response?
We cannot be Christ. We cannot turn ourselves over in the same way, free of sin, free of resentment. Rather, we receive that which he offers. We respond to Christ in the Lord’s Supper. There we receive the beaten back, we drink the spilled blood, and we proclaim as king what others so loudly denounced. In the Supper, we cannot avoid confrontation. We cannot avoid the fact that our Savior was rejected. We cannot avoid the fact that apart from Christ offering His own body we would still be enemies with God. We cannot avoid the fact that we participate in an act that is foreign and confusing to the world.
At the Lord’s Table we offer ourselves: our backs, cheeks, and faces. Yet we acknowledge that Christ gave an offering sufficient once and for all. Our offering is gratitude. We offer ourselves to Christ, regardless of what confrontation might come.