Is. 53:4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
The prophet spoke words that would be fulfilled in the life of the Messiah. The words are poignant, gripping us at the place of misunderstanding. The Messiah would bear the corruption of humanity in his flesh, so that he could bring healing. Sadly, we would not understand his sacrifice, but would look upon his diseases with disdain. Little would we understand that the ugliness we saw in his flesh was our ugliness which he chose willingly to suffer so that we could be healed. We are the cause and he must bear the wounds to bring about the healing effect. God’s ways are higher than our ways and the sacrifice made by the Messiah is beyond our complete understanding.
The people had the wrong understanding of the one carrying the infirmities and diseases. As they looked on him they were sure that God was punishing him for something that he had done wrong. The idea that this would be God incarnate taking upon himself our illness was beyond comprehension. Historically when we have looked upon those who have difficulties or diseases we have thought that God was punishing them. Just about eighty years ago my aunt, my father’s sister, was born with Down’s syndrome. My grandparents were pastoring a small church in Nebraska but even the “good church folk” condemned my grandmother for having dome something wrong and that God was punishing her with this child. I don’t think that my grandparents ever felt that way for they loved my Aunt Shirley her whole life. The ways in which they cared for her demonstrated their deep, deep love, but that didn’t remove the pain that they suffered because of the words of some parishioners. God’s ways are not our ways and sometimes we fail to see the true picture, which was what the prophet Isaiah was saying.
As we follow Christ we may also be asked to sacrifice. Jesus challenged his listeners to take up their cross and follow him. He didn’t promise that life would be easy if we followed him, but he did promise that he would go with us. I think we misunderstand the Christian life if we don’t think that it requires sacrifice. Jesus put all of humanity before himself and willingly bore the ugliness of our corrupted lives, just so they could be made whole again. We may be asked to sacrifice our time, space, reputation, and finances to make a difference in this world. We all would like to protect our reputation, and yet, sometimes it is our reputation which must be sacrificed in order to help others.
What are we willing to give up for the sake of others? And in doing so will the world misunderstand and consider you afflicted?
The world looked on at Jesus and completely misunderstood what he was doing. May we follow after him, living a life of sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Lord, I know there are times that I misunderstand what I see. Please, help me not to be judgmental but to see with your eyes and appreciate your sacrifices and those of others. Amen.