this morning i read isaiah 53 in the message. i am undone.
He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him. (Isaiah 53:7-10)
i am devastated by the fact that jesus resolved to speak not one word in his defense. he allowed religious snobs to silence him, and pagan bullies to trample on his rights. he refused to resist false arrest, even when his friends wanted to fight. he willingly laid down on a cross, and spread his arms to receive nails with my name on them. and scripture tells us that this injustice was not only orchestrated by his father, but that he was somehow pleased by it.
and here’s why i am heartsick this morning.
we have several groups that use our building: scrapbookers and girl scouts and soccer teams. we house a child care center. two different churches meet in our facility. so, as a matter of course, i sometimes find a mess when come i in the morning. i don’t know why this surprises me, but it does.
more surprising to me, though, is my attitude.
this past monday morning, i found myself muttering (to myself…we’ll discuss my advancing senility in another post), “why can’t people clean up after themselves? they use the space for free, and still they have no consideration for the property of others?”
and then my whining got personal. “i’m the pastor. don’t these ungrateful people realize how busy my schedule is?”
and i was quite enjoying my self-pity party right up until the moment i began to complain to the lord. “you called me here…is this what you had in mind for my ministry? to clean up other people’s messes? and no one seems to be grateful or even notice!”
and then i remembered isaiah 53. and matthew 6. and philippians 3.
for the sake of his mission, jesus relinquished his rights. he
allowed invited people to use him and interrupt him and take advantage of him, and he was always patient and compassionate. he was always seeking to teach the hard lessons with his life–even to the laying down of his life.
sometimes i wonder if i am even a christian. i feel sorry for myself when people use me. i am quick to defend my ideas/positions. i avoid high-maintenance people.
it’s pride, pure and simple.
but what if, in some convoluted way that i am not smart enough to understand, god’s plan might prosper through my pain? what if god is doing something that costs me a little now, but turns out to be priceless in the end? what if god has ordained for my life to be spent rather than saved, invested rather than hoarded?
what if god is trying to make me like jesus?