From the Word
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”
The words of Isaiah were written nearly 800 years before the death of Jesus. They remain the most explicit discussion of what Jesus accomplished by his death on the cross, Old Testament or New. God foretold the time and event that would transform history. To hear these words as we view the crucifixion is to see the Old Testament mystery of salvation become clear, and to have the death of the Son of God put into a context that makes sense of an otherwise senseless act.
As we behold this timeless message, we wonder how to tell this message to a changing American society. Present day America puts the process of dying away from us so that we can escape as much of its’ sting as we can. We either dress up the bodies, or don’t look at them at all. This is not necessarily bad, unless we are using it as a means of insolating ourselves from the reality we all must face.
To a society running from death, we present the death of Jesus, God incarnate. His death seems foolish to natural man. Why would God do such a thing, if indeed God even exists? With the death of Jesus, we are forced to deal with the reality that brought it about; sin. Our society doesn’t want to talk about that, but must for the sake of their souls. Instead of running from what is clearly visible among us, we call those around us to behold the problem in light of the solution.
We do not simply apply the Law and leave people in their guilt and despair (contrary to what seems to be popular culture opinion). With the discussion of the problem of sin comes the message of Isaiah about how the Suffering Servant came to take our sins away. He came as a substitute, to bear our hell, so that we might live in his grace here, and in the glory of heaven when we die. Amid the hopelessness of our present age we proclaim Jesus’ death on the cross as God’s timeless solution to the problems we cause in each time of history. Into the ever changing world views that seek to explain away the problem of sin and death, we proclaim the unchanging message of God swallowing up death that we might live.