Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Isaiah 53:5 -- On the Chastisement of Peace

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:2-6

These verses are about Christ, and at first glance, like much of Isaiah, it reminds me of my freshman English class in college.  We were in a large lecture hall, and she pulled up an E. E. Cummings poem to show us (here if you want to see it), and, staring at it, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders, ready to move on to something else.  Not something I would ever have paid attention to if it hadn't been for the class.  But as she talked and asked some questions about what was happening, and giving us some things to look for, and it suddenly all fell into place for me, and I learned to love poetry in that moment.

It isn't just Isaiah, but even just the idea of the atonement that is sometimes confusing.  We don't really get it, and aren't really sure if it is even gettable. :)  And the two together... Isaiah explaining the atonement.  Wow.  Let's move on, right? But we're going to jump in anyway. :)

The first verse seems to be talking about Christ's coming.  He grew up, the heir of a politically defunct line of kings, and he wasn't politically powerful or movie-star beautiful.  He wasn't dramatic or flashy, coming down and announcing to everyone that he had come to save the day.

He didn't escape hatred or persecution or sorrow or pain in his life.  He didn't seem especially or uncommonly favored over all other people if you only looked on the surface.  He wasn't one of the rich and famous that we follow just so that some of the same fortune will rub off on us.

He endured our sadness, but maybe we just thought of him as another luckless guy, picked on by the government, or even someone who deserved the suffering that God sent him.

The truth was though, that he only suffered for us.  He was wounded and bruised in our place.  We have peace are are healed *because* he was beaten and whipped.

If we're talking about what we *deserve,* we would all be lost, because we've all left God's fold and tried to live our own way.  But instead of asking us to pay the price, God allowed Christ to suffer in our stead.

Isaiah's words help us to remember that we are who we are, and have the opportunities and blessings we have through the grace of Christ, and by no other way.  Sometimes we look around at what other people have and we (at least figuratively) shake our fist at the sky, thinking "why not me?" or "I deserve more than this!"

And then God, kindly, reminds us that we really don't.  Christ paid the price that we couldn't pay, and he is actually the one that "deserves" something.  We're "less than the dust of the earth" (Helaman 12:7; Mosiah 4:2), but still "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10), and that's why he did it.  Because he loves us, and knew we would screw it up, and he wanted us to have the chance to repent and change and make it anyway.

Today, let's not stress out if we don't have as much as someone else, or if this chapter of life doesn't seem as equitable as we would have liked.  Let's remember Psalms 84:10: "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

When we get the (figurative) choice between doorkeeper for God or a million dollar mansion with the bad guys, let's remember that Christ died to give us the ability to make that choice, and let's let go of our greed and our comparisons, and let's choose the right -- the good thing over the easy or selfish thing.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Isiah that He died for our sins which is "spiritually death"
    But physical death sin is up to me to suffer for it.
    Well you win some and loose some.Lol 😇


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