“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:3-6
These are powerful words written by the prophet Isaiah…words that must be remembered and reflected upon as Christ-followers. However, I must confess that in my own life, these words seldom permeate my heart and mind. As I sit here and write this post, the Lord is making me aware of my shortcomings and failures to acknowledge the depths of his love and grace. He is convicting me of my pride that shifts my focus from the cross to myself.
Father, I confess that I don’t reflect upon your love and grace enough. I confess that I have fallen entirely short when it comes to praising the goodness of your reconciling work through the blood of your son Jesus. I am unworthy of your goodness. I am unworthy of your love. I am unworthy of relationship with you. Yet I thank you that even now you have revealed these shortcomings to me. I thank you that you have refocused my attention back upon you and back upon the goodness of your character. O God, may I never lose the wonder, O the wonder of your mercy. May I never fail to live my life in light of your son’s sacrifice upon the cross.
My hope and prayer as I write this is that others would see the surpassing worth of knowing Christ each day. Not just on Sundays or Wednesdays. Not just on days when you’re reading the Word or constant in prayer, but each day because God truly deserves all of our praise and all of our reflection all of the time. The day we forget the gravity of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the day we lose our way.
Let us not forget who we truly are. We are sinful (Rom. 3:23). We are immoral (Col. 3:5). We are rebellious (Gen 3:6). These are just a very few of the qualities we possess as humans. We were given perfect unity with God, and yet we chose to gaze upon our own interests rather than God’s. We were promised provision in everything by the perfect provider, and yet we chose to fulfill our own desires rather than trusting our Creator. Because of this rebellion against our God, we were declared unrighteous… We were declared sinful… And because God’s perfection is intolerant of our imperfection, we were destined to eternity apart from the Father. This is where the power of the cross comes in. Because God loves us so much, and because God delights in restoring broken vessels back to their former state, he sent his Son. He sent his Son to take the form of human flesh (Phil. 2:5-11) and to endure all the pain, the temptations, and the strife of living in a fallen world. Through this all, he maintained perfection so he could give himself up as the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Christ, though fully divine and undeserving of judgement, bore God’s full cup of wrath upon himself so that we might have life. What a beautifully redemptive story of a Father going to the most extreme heights to reconcile relationship with his children. What a beautifully redemptive story of a Son humbly and sacrificially giving up of himself for the good of others.
This is a truth we must remember each day. In every moment, we must be in constant awe of the power of Christ’s work on the cross. It should change the way we do everything. My heart is wretched and every fiber of my being wishes to rebel against God, but when I remind myself of the Cross, I am made aware of the glory that’s found in humbly giving myself to Christ each and every moment. I’m made aware of the glory in submitting myself fully to God because of his care, his love, and his good will for me. This reminds me of an article (referenced below) that I read a few weeks ago about experiencing awe. The author wrote about a study that was conducted on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, which has a spectacular grove of Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus trees, some with heights exceeding 200 feet—a potent source of everyday awe for anyone who walks by. So they took participants there and had them either look up into the trees or look at the facade of a nearby science building, for one minute. Then, a minor “accident” occurred (actually a planned part of the experiment): A person stumbled and dropped a handful of pens. Participants who had spent the minute looking up at the tall trees—not long, but long enough, they found, to be filled with awe—picked up more pens to help the other person. I believe much of the same is true when we reflect upon Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It compels us to love God more deeply because of his sacrificial love for us. It compels us to humbly serve others as Christ has served us. Ultimately, it reminds us that we too––as Christians––are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and to follow Christ all of the time.
Beloved, I encourage you to remind yourself daily of the weight of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us. Remind yourself that if you are in Christ and if God has adopted you into his family, then this story of redemption on the cross is not something we can forget nor is it something we can take lightly. Christ’s redeeming and sacrificial work on the cross is something that commands our whole being to submit to God in eternal praise and awe of his goodness and love in drawing us back into relationship with him. Bury yourself in Scripture. Pray without ceasing. Submit yourselves to the authority and will of our heavenly Father, because he cares for us.
Scripture to reflect on: (Psalms 22:14-18; Mark 8:34; Rom. 5:8; the whole book of Romans; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 3:16; Eph. 1:7; Eph. 2:1-10; all of the gospels––Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
(Piff, Paul, and Dacher Keltner. “Why Do We Experience Awe?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.)