“Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?” (Isaiah 53:1 MSG)
Isaiah then proceeds to describe “this”: a man who was common in appearance, easy to overlook and look down upon. And as the bearer of God’s wrath he would be, in his disfigurement, difficult even to look upon. Isaiah asks rightly, “Who will believe that God’s saving power would come like this?”
Our wonder must expand mightily as we discover that we ourselves are the cause of this circumstance. Our heart disfigurement is the origin of Jesus’ travail. We are all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. We are not just physically lost, we are lost-of-heart, alienated-by-nature to God. Our lost-hearts did not comprehend Jesus. We did not grasp that it was the disfigurement of sin within us that brought about Jesus’ suffering. In this respect we have all done our own thing, gone our own way.
He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for our sins. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin… piling all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him! (from Isaiah 53:8-10)
Why? So that he would ultimately see life come from it—life, life, and more life. However, to secure life, he had to face off with death. Because he will not flinch, God’s plan will deeply prosper through him. Out of his terrible travail of soul, he will see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, God’s righteous servant will make many righteous. By carrying the burden of their sins, his saving power will come to bear in the new hearts of the lowly. He will have a family alike in heart and alike in nature. Mystery upon mystery! Stunningly, we who were the cause of “this” circumstance are ourselves God’s reward. How scandalous that we, the cause of his nightmare, have always been the object of his dreams!
Truly, “Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?”
Father, Thank you. Thank you that you have born our sin and shame and that we do not have to grovel as the cause of your suffering. Thank you. Thank you for the new life that you have established in our hearts and are manifesting through our lives. May our hearts live in awe and wonder at the glory of this mystery and the majesty of your name. Amen.