The “Third Week”: Week Twenty-Five/Session Two.
Theme: The Suffering and Death of Jesus.
Our reading for today: Isaiah 53: 1-10.
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. (Isaiah 53: 1–10 MsgB)
It makes little sense to the human mind. To many, the Jesus story is laughable, just a silly fairy tale, much like Cinderella, where an overlooked, under-achieving handmaiden is suddenly recognized as a beautiful princess.
Have you ever noticed?
Gazing at Jesus of Nazareth, as He suffers and dies on His cross, just doesn’t equate with royalty and high honor. Yet, it’s clear from the writings of both the Old and New Testament that this wretched thirty-three year old man who carries our disfigurements and all things wrong with the human race is indeed the Son of the Living God, chosen by that same God to walk out an amazing plan of redemption for those who could never do just that on their own.
So, as I see it, as you and I ponder the sufferings and death of Jesus, we are not actually ‘seeing’ what our eyes tell us we’re seeing. The prophet Isaiah was the first one to call our attention to this apparent ‘misconception’ that so confounds the human mind. You see, from an earthly perspective, Jesus hanging on a cross is a sham. No messiah or conquering king would ever be found in such a lowly, helpless state. No god created in the mind of man could ever remain a god if such a thing happened to him or her. Gods, you see, don’t die. Gods don’t suffer. Gods are never humbled, let alone stripped naked, beaten to a pulp and hung on a cross to bleed to death before a crowd of mocking soldiers.
No. This story of a broken and bleeding God-man, dying a gruesome death on a cross outside Jerusalem just doesn’t fit the bill for so many of us who only find our gods sipping fine wine while living the good life on top of Mt. Olympus.
So, here it is. Like it or lump it, Isaiah spells it out for us. The God of the Universe, the One Creator/King of All developed in His mind, long before the creation of the world, a redemption plan where He, Himself, will pay the price for all of our transgressions; past, present and future. The selfishness and sinfulness of the entire human race will be gathered into one place, at one time, and in one act of wondrous kindness, that same God who loves beyond our wildest imagination, will bear the brunt of it all and die on our behalf.
So when I survey the wondrous cross, gazing at a broken, disfigured Christ, bleeding and dying at the hands of those who should have known better, I’m actually seeing a miracle…the miracle of all miracles…the sign and wonder that tops them all. Though my eyes can hardly recognize it, I’m actually looking upon the greatest work of love ever created by this God who actually created love in the first place.
My prayer: Lord, I stand, I stand in awe of You. I stand, I stand in awe of You. Holy God, to whom all praise is due. I stand in awe of You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: If God is able to take such a gruesome ugly event such as the crucifixion of His Son and turn it into a story of beauty and wonder, what other ugly parts of my life can He redeem and restore, if I allow Him to do just that?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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