“Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases, yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” —Isaiah 53:4-5
In this Servant Song, it doesn’t seem like the one who is bruised, whom God exalts, is in charge of the events of His life. Rather, He is simply playing a role in the salvation of the nation. The narrative comes to us from the class of the priesthood and the royal court. The narrator sees God’s servant as their own servant. The voice of the servant remains muted.
The Caribbean story is similar. It has often been told by outside observers looking in and reporting what they see as masters and owners. These accounts gave the people of the Caribbean important roles — amassing wealth, running offices or delivering goods. But the voices and the motivations of the population were never the center of the stories. The people were objectified as slaves and as instruments of the master class.
It is in the Gospels that God’s Servant becomes a subject exhibiting consciousness, finding His own voice, and having a circle of friends with whom He shares His mission. We are blessed to have this kind of Servant who out of love for us invites us to participate in his salvation for the world. He forgives us, teaches us, empowers us and sends us out to overcome evil and transform the world.
When we look at the cross and read the passage above, we know that our history of suffering was alleviated by a Friend who was close to our experience and who walks with us today. As we immerse ourselves in another Good Friday, Jesus’ voice resounds in our hearts, calling us to be part of the salvation of others.
Serna Samuel is a United Methodist Women’s Regional Missionary, working in English- and French-speaking areas of the Caribbean.