The next section of the Nazarene Articles of Faith that I will focus on is Atonement. And the first passage I opened to this morning was Isaiah 53, a chapter in the middle of a triumphant call of victory. Isaiah is one of those books that weeps over coming judgement, but shows the future glory that will come with repentance. It is a gorgeous landscape of hope out of darkness, and this is one of the crowning jewels. So today we are going to savor it.
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.
7 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.
8 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?
9 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.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
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 makes intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus stepped into the anguish of broken humanity and felt the brunt of sin. It felt like a punch in the gut to see the disease of hearts and bodies so far from that good creation He had made. They could see and hear, but they just didn’t get it. And He had to die. That was the only way to get them back. The debt paid in full, the justice complete. It’s why He had designed the sacrificial system to use innocent lambs, surprisingly young and full of life. And why did they have to die? That’s how bad sin is. Who saw what God was doing? No one.
Who did He think He was? Young, plain, strong in every sense of the word. Many took a strong dislike to Him right away. And in the end, He died with the worst criminals, but was buried in a spacious stone tomb. He had stepped between God and man, and healed the breach.
God, it’s a story I need to hear over and over again. Because just like them, I forget to listen, I turn away, I try to heal myself. And over and over again You remind me I can’t, but You did. And now You call me to live in that healing. Please help my perspective to keep changing to see how You saw. To Your glory. Amen.