Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

Isaiah 53 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It so clearly describes the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and the purpose for it.

When God came to earth he didn’t come as a great and powerful conquerer (as some were hoping for). He came as a simple baby and lived life as a simple man right alongside all of the “regular” people. Yet every person he met was changed to the core. People who saw him face-to-face made the decision to spend their life either following him or denying him. No one that encountered him remained ambivalent.

And in the end, they all watched him carry his cross to Calvary, be beaten and die as a common criminal even though he did no wrong.

Sadly some of them then, and still many to this day, missed the point. They fail to see that it was so they could live that he died. That ultimately his victory was not about defeating one specific empire but about defeating death and sin for all time. That eventually what they did with Jesus would determine which side of eternity they would come out on.

Ultimately it comes down to this. Follow Jesus, experience eternity with God. Deny Jesus, experience eternity in hell, separated from God. It really is a life or death choice and there’s no middle ground. If any other way was sufficient, then why would Jesus have had to die?

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23 NLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NLT)

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 NLT)

Isaiah 53 (The Message paraphrase) Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him— our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 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. Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. (Isaiah 53:1-12 MSG)

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