Have you ever enjoyed the pleasure of watching someone use their muscles well? Yes, like in the gym, or opening a really sticky jar of pickles. Seriously, though, it is beautiful to watch people move in ways that fully utilize the capabilities of the human body. We celebrate it in the Olympics, with marathons, and even 30 minute workouts.
In Isaiah 52-53, God flexed His muscles.
“The Lord has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
[f]That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God.”
Israel was going to be redeemed, without having to run away in haste like they did from Egypt. And God would be in front and behind. He just showed His power in a very unexpected way.
“Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and [h]greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.”
When I was younger I used to wonder if Jesus picked out His hair color and what shade His eyes would be. Did He want straight or crooked teeth?
But Isaiah 53 is a beautiful picture of God defying logic, sending a Servant King who picked nothing especially beautiful to distinguish Himself. He just was there. He came to live a life that was uncomfortable, purposefully choosing to deal with everyone’s problems. I can’t even deal with my own! God showed that we were not meant to deal with our problems – He took care of them. His yoke is not burdensome. And that perspective changes how we live in relation to other messy people.
Isaiah 53 is a stained-glass passage. It is etched into my mind with powerful pictures that unite the Old and New Testaments in prophesy images. But right now the image stuck in my head is of God flexing His muscles and confusing all the logic of the world that scrambles for the top of the heap. He flexed His muscles, strong enough to deliver, and showed us what life can be like. Not a race, not wheels spinning, but a strange joy in the midst of life problems that comes from being redeemed to a better future.
God, You are stronger than any of my efforts. I am exhausted trying to solve my problems. Thank You for saving us. Thank You for coming to defy the self-focused pursuit of comfort, and instead taking each person’s problems and tossing the load on Your shoulders. We are free because of what You did, and the life You have given us to live. Thank You! Please help me to enjoy that freedom, and seek to lift other people’s eyes off their problems to Your strong arms. Amen.