Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Suffering Servant

This Easter I want to look at the last face of Jesus in this series from the Song of Songs: the Suffering Servant.

Song of Songs 4:16 - 5:5 (selected)
Bride: Awake, O north wind; And come, thou south; Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, And eat his precious fruits.

Groom: I am come into my garden, my sister, my bride: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, O friends; Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

Open to me, my sister, For my head is filled with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.

Bride: I rose up to open to my beloved; And my hands droppeth with myrrh, And my fingers with liquid myrrh, Upon the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved; But my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone.
I see in this passage quite a few parallels with the last day of Jesus.

In the first part, the bride makes a declaration of commitment. The north wind brings cold, storms and winter hardships. The south wind brings warmth and the growing seasons of spring and summer. Here she's making a statement of dedication that come what may, in the good times and bad, she wants to be pleasing to her beloved. This reminds me of Peter when he says what's on all the disciples? hearts: 'Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.'[1] There's a desire to be wholehearted in the commitment. It may not be something which can be fulfilled, but there is a desire to be unwavering.

Next, the groom says that he's come to his garden and tasted what it has. The sweet. The spicy. He encourages his friends and bride to partake with him. In the same way Jesus came and dwelt among us, enjoying his creation and enduring temptation. On that final night with them, it's not a stretch for me to see Jesus handing out the bread and wine and having this passage in mind when he said 'This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood poured out for you.'[2] 'Eat O friends. Drink abundantly, O beloved.'

Following this, the groom says, 'open for me because I'm wet with dew and the drops of the night.' I see here the invitation of Jesus to his disciples, and particularly Peter, James and John, to pray with him in the garden. In the night season, when his head was wet with sweat and blood, in a time of anguish, he wanted those he loved near him to encourage his heart.

Finally though, Jesus had to walk the last road alone. Like the groom in the song, he had to withdraw his presence. The sheep had to be scattered. He had to go to a place where they could not follow and accomplish a task they couldn't do. He had to allow his body to be broken and his blood spilled so that we may eat and drink.