Journey to Jerusalem Day 40, Isaiah 52:13-53:6
Palm Sunday, April 14
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
53 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.
I hate failing, don’t you? It makes me feel bad. I hate that.
This is why I resist self-examination. If I look too closely at myself, I recognize how often I fall short of God’s standards. Heck, I even fall short of my own standards… all the time.
“Why did I do that?” “Why did I say that?” “What’s wrong with me?” These questions pop up whenever I am honest with myself about myself. I feel like a failure. I feel bad. I hate that.
I would like to take comfort in the fact that everybody fails. Isaiah tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). But we all know the fallacy of the “everybody does it” argument. Wrong is wrong, no matter how many people are doing it.
The apostle Paul wrestled with this, too. “Wretched man that I am!” he said. (Romans 7:24) But then, he quickly added, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
Why was Paul thankful? Not because he constantly failed to live up even to his own expectations. Rather, Paul rejoiced that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Here we encounter the mystery, and the glory, of the gospel. Isaiah said, “The LORD has laid on him (God’s servant, Jesus) the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Because of Jesus, abject failures are free from condemnation from God, or even from themselves!
Whew. This means I can stop the painful process of self-examination, right? Wrong. We are not yet the people we can be. We owe it to ourselves, to the world and to God to do the hard work of change. And that involves self-examination… but not condemnation.
Thank you, Jesus! Amen