Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
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.
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 (Isaiah 53:4-6)
I read this passage last week and then heard it twice (from two different sources). That’s when you know that God is trying to tell you something! It is one of my favorite images of Christ; it captures His character: that He could, and would, bear OUR burdens, and that He would choose this hard, hard road for Himself. It is unimaginable to me – to embrace this much pain and grief, intentionally. The thought of it – that He would choose the Cross…for our good and out of His goodness…this is the picture of Jesus that is very precious to me.
The wonderful Word surprises me sometimes. How can something new come out of something centuries old? The something new occurred to me while savoring the Word, above, last week. I will try to explain it, but I might fail miserably, so bear with me.
Think now of the picture of Christ from Isaiah 53. I remember the scenes from The Passion of the Christ (amazon.com link): battered, bruised, bloodied, branded a heretic when nothing could have been further from the Truth. He endured the injustice, the mocking, the beatings, and the walk to Calvary this way:
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 (Isaiah 53:7).
The whole idea of this is both beautiful and ugly. It is difficult to look at suffering like that but it is the triumph of Holiness, and so it is wonderful to behold. Still, it is hard to see the picture in your mind’s eye of someone so right being treated so wrongly.
Remember this visual: the blood, the gashes, the marks from the whip, the utter exhaustion, the sadness in His eyes. All at once I saw this to be a picture of our own dark hearts. On the outside, we all look pretty good most of the time. But looks can be deceiving. How many are suffering from a heart condition? We are all heart-sick at some point, though the causes may vary:
- The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
- For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight (Psalm 51:3-4)
- Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none (Psalm 69:20).
- From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered Your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me; Your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:15-18).
Our hearts are sinful and despairing without Jesus. We deserve judgement. We might deserve the public humiliation. We have earned our pain. Yet, He took what would be our secret sorrows, our secret shames and He bore them publicly. He wore our shame. He wore our sorrow. He wore our separation from God. He took the undisclosed ugliness, the fact that our hearts were so battered and bruised by sin, and He created a beautiful possibility. He made it so we could escape the condition of the Pharisees: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matthew 23:27-28).
Jesus rescued us from ourselves. His act of heroism is the redemption of mankind. Because He bore our sins, we can comfort ourselves with this prayer and know that the work has already been done; it is finished: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). It is finished and it is beautiful.
justAgirl…just like you!