has anyone read isaiah 53 before? good grief (no pun intended)!
let me back up, i haven’t spent much time preparing my heart for the death and resurrection of jesus. however, easter is one of my favorite days because of the deep significance for us all. true forgiveness + grace became manifest in not (only) jesus’ death but in his rising from the dead. it’s so easy to miss this miracle but i pray its profound impact never ceases to change us.
as i started reading some passages suggested for this week and going through jesus’ last days on earth, i was struck by his humanity. he got angry, he was hungry (preach!), he was betrayed, would be denied, was left alone in his darkest hour, begged for god to save him from his sure death, cried, forgave. i love that jesus, because he was fully man, is one with whom we can relate. we have all felt feelings of incredible desolation. but as i read isaiah 53, i started weeping. this is not some run-of-the-mill suffering jesus had to endure. he was put on earth to die. literally. read on:
“Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
listen, this is not weak language, this is not some mamby-pamby god. while jesus was fully human, he was also FULLY GOD. deserving (because he was god) and desiring (because he was man) our honor and worship as the righteous king. instead, he was despised, rejected, one from whom men turn their faces, acquainted with grief, crushed, oppressed, afflicted, stricken, taken like a lamb to slaughter, judged, anguished, and so on it goes. but it says “YET, it was the will of god to crush him”. yikes. it is difficult to know how to counter this picture of a loving, just god with sending his ONLY son to earth to be rejected and to ultimately die a criminal’s death on our behalf. it’s difficult for me to see just how broken and sinful i am that this was the only way. because of jesus, we are ACCOUNTED righteous. the numbers don’t add up, the figures won’t compute (want me to keep pretending i know anything about accounting?) and yet god, in his mercy, sent jesus to “pour his soul out to death” to make “intercession for the transgressors”. in these days (every day) where i feel that i should be able to stand toe-to-toe with god in a face off and demand my way with him, isaiah 53 was his loving reminder that i am only allowed to enter the most holy place by the blood of the slaughtered lamb. that if jesus came humbly to die a death that we deserved, i can and should come humbly to the throne of god to “serve and not be served”. that god isn’t interested in my sacrifices or false idols because jesus came to take the place of them all. so when my feelings overwhelm or my plans seem the best, i can come confident to and rest in this god that cares wildly for me.