ISAIAH 53, RSV, With Comment.
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Very few have believed, but not the ones you might think. It is the paradox of worldwide Christian movement.
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dryground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was not gorgeous, but he is beautiful! His beauty, though, is not what draws us to him, not what makes us desire him. It is his grace that pulls us in–the grace exhibited by leaving the lush expanse of heaven to be a dry, thirsty root in the desert of our wickedness.
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.
We did not esteem him, he esteemed us. He esteemed us as worthy of redemption–what a man! What a man of sorrows. Surely if we follow his path and teaching, what awaits us is derision, rejection, and isolation from the values of a world gone crazy; a world drunk on blood and violence and diseased with lust and greed.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
He bore our griefs? Carried our sorrows? Has he kept our tears in a jar and our laments on a flash drive? Yes, and this even more feeds our arrogance to the point where we think something was wrong with him and with others; but never ourselves.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
I am healed by his stripes. I am healed in my spirit because I can connect with God; with the divine. I am healed in my psyche because he affirms my worth and gives me purpose. I am healed in my body because death has been cured and it no longer has the final word.
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.
Why do stray paths always look so right at the time? Why am I prone to wander away from the Shepherd so much? Jesus–the ultimate scapegoat for me, the wayward sheep.
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 dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.
If I am to truly model Christ’s humility and follow his lead of service, then at some point I am going to have to learn to shut my mouth and stop defending myself. Explanations are not something the godly value. Right actions speak for themselves, and then we let God do the talking.
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?
Oppression is the tool of the powerful to subjugate the weak. It is the axe the powerful privileged use to clear the path for ambition. Jesus was oppressed by politicians, evil religious leaders, and ignorant crowds easily manipulated. That is what his generation did to him.
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.
How fitting that Christ my Lord was hung between two thieves; for that is what humans do best–steal! It was what our parents did in the garden–steal from God. Ever since we’ve longed for what was not ours to have. Then they buried him in a rich man’s tomb. Again, such poetics is rare in life. He was the wealthiest ever–owner of the cosmos, but somehow even his grave was borrowed luxury.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him;
he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;
he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous;
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Jesus offered himself on the altar of eternity and the reward was that he has gained for himself offspring–those of us who believe the report–those of us who love him. Somehow, it is all about knowledge. Whether it is the knowledge which Christ possesses or that people possess about Christ I do not know, but the key is knowledge. Through knowledge the world gets better because through knowledge the iniquities are born.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
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 made intercession for the transgressors.
He was counted as one of us. For me, that says it all, and that says enough.