Theme of the Week: Suffering
Bible Verse: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.” Isaiah 53:3 CSB
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 53:1-12
Of course, Jesus was despised and rejected. Why wouldn’t he be?
He came as a spotless being into a contaminated world, the oil of anointing into polluted water, the source of life into an environment of decay, the Son of glory into a vainglorious race. He stood at the front lines of a clash of realms between the culture of God’s kingdom and the culture of the world. There is no détente between such opposing parties. Only one can reign. And at the Cross, the victor seemed clear.
Yes, those hostile to Jesus got their wish. He had challenged the status quo, which was inspiring for those at the bottom end, but a threat to those who benefited from it. So the troublemaker was dispensed with. The problem was handled. The movement was quenched, and the “illusioned” became disillusioned one painful Passover eve.
Jesus did not flee this battle, but neither did he fight it on his adversaries’ terms. He remained faithful to the culture of his kingdom, and they remained faithful to the culture of theirs. Theirs was more aggressive, but his was more effective. To undo our shame, he exposed his face to it. To heal us, he bore excruciating wounds. To give us a crown of beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and joyful dancing for mourning (Psalm 30:11), he embraced the ashes and mourning. It was an odd battle strategy in the eyes of his opponents and followers, and it seemed ridiculously futile.
Until Sunday. By subjecting himself to the hostile forces of this world and not being undone by them, Jesus stripped them of power. They did their worst, and it wasn’t nearly enough. For centuries thereafter, we, his followers, have cast our lot with the despised and rejected, acquainting ourselves with sorrow and grief and not being undone.
We take the punches and lashes of this world, and we resolutely continue with our eyes on the truer kingdom. We stand with Jesus at the front lines of this clash of realms, our opposition thinking it has defeated us while being completely unaware of its loss two millennia ago, and we declare victory. We may mourn, but we dance. We may get burned, but we see beauty in the ashes. We may look weak, but we are crowned with glory. Just like him. The kingdom of God is for the weak, humble, and unlikely, but never for the faint of heart.
Stand strong in the midst of a contrary culture and know that you have won.
Content taken from The Promise of Lent Devotional: A 40-day Journey toward the Miracle of Easter by Chris Tiegreen. Copyright ©2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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