“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6
The stripes on a candy cane. The stripes on colored wrapping paper. These stripes certainly help to put us in the Christmas spirit. But the stripes on someone’s back from a brutal beating? Strangely those stripes say much more about Christmas than the other two.
Many years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah had a great deal to say about what His life and ministry would be about. In fact, Isaiah 53 gives us the most detailed Old Testament description of the suffering Servant who would be born in Bethlehem.
The brutality of the trial of Jesus and His crucifixion seem to stand in stark contrast to the joy of gifts and bows on Christmas morning. But Isaiah foretells that the joy would come at an extreme cost.
Some families and friends get into competitions on who can out-spend one another and come up with the most expensive, most elaborate gift that will top all of the others. Of course God has far outdone us all with the elaborate gift of salvation at the expense of the life of His own beloved Son.
In our “ME”-focused celebrations of Christmas, it’s sometimes easy to forget our real role in the Christmas story. What is our role in the story? We provided the sin that caused our Lord to suffer. It was my sin and iniquity that was laid on Him as He was beaten and pierced.
I was the sheep that went astray. The Savior, at the cost of His own life, came after me. And I will be thanking Him for eternity that He did.
Lord Jesus, thank you for what you did for me when you took the punishment that I deserved. I deserved death, you gave me life. Please help me to live a life of gratitude for your gift to me. In Your Name, Amen.
~ Don Collings