The Suffering Servant And Me: How Isaiah 53 Impacts My Daily Life.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. 10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. 12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels.He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.Isaiah 53:4-6,10-12
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Ephesians 5:1-2
As I was reading my One Year Bible, these two passages just happened to be back to back. This “coincidence” made Ephesians 5 hit me differently than it would have without the context of Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53 is a Messianic prophecy proclaimed centuries before the life of Christ. Modern-day Christians have the gift of the gospels where we see the prophecy fulfilled through Jesus. Isaiah 53 is an awe-inspiring, tear-jerking reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
The sinless suffering servant carried our sin, as if it was His own. We ignorantly assumed that the perfect Son of God was receiving the punishment He deserved. He deserved nothing but worship and adoration. We (I) deserved death and nothing less. Why? Why did he have to bear such horrible treatment? So that we, His stray sheep, could be whole and healed. I love how simply the New Living Translation puts sin in verse six. “We have left God’s path to follow our own.” We deserted God, not the other way around. We left, because we thought we knew better than God. However, our loving Father didn’t want to be without us forever, so He made a redemption plan. Jesus would be our sinless sacrifice by bearing the weight of our sin, so we don’t have to. When He died for us, He gave us the opportunity to be His sons and daughters, a part of His forever family. Isaiah 53 tells us that God looked back at His unspeakable suffering and considered it worth it. What could make Jesus consider death worth it? Because of His death, many are counted righteous and restored to an intimate relationship with the Father. Jesus was given somewhat of a spiritual purple heart for His ultimate sacrifice. Though people threw Him in with rebels, it was all the rebels like you and me that He died for. What an indescribable sacrifice!
With Isaiah 53 in mind, I launched into Ephesians 5.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do,”. Imitate God…hold on. I just read that God took the most severe punishment for a crime He did not commit, so that rebels could have a relationship with a holy God. How in the world am I supposed to imitate that? The next verse reveals the answer. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
“Live a life filled with love.” When I think of a life filled with something, I don’t think of something that occupies a small portion of my life. I think of something that takes over my life, therefore characterizing who I am as a person. It flows into every area of my life. So if I’m taking this verse to heart and “imitating God”, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, and my ministry should feel the tremendous impact of Christ’s sacrificial love.
Sacrificial love impacts my marriage. Imitating Christ, the suffering servant, in my marriage requires getting over myself. My “needs”, wants and comforts are subservient to my husband. Sacrificial love means even when I’m too tired to fix supper, I do it because it will bless my husband. It means keeping my mouth shut and asking the Lord to work, instead of nagging my husband to change. It means extending forgiveness and unwavering love, even when the hurt still stings. Christ not only forgave me, He took my punishment. With the Holy Spirit I can extend sacrificial love to my husband.
Sacrificial love impacts my parenting. Most parents, myself included, would assume they are already practicing sacrificial love towards their children. We sacrifice the ability to sleep in so that we can love them by making breakfast and reading stories. We sacrifice money to buy their needs and often their wants. We sacrifice peace and quiet to listen to yet another toy instrument jam session. But are we truly sacrificing ourselves? Time and time again I realize that I haven’t laid down my pride, when my children have a meltdown. I haven’t sacrificed my perfectionism, when my toddler acts like a toddler instead of the adult I unrealistically (and sinfully) expect her to act like. Am I willing to sacrifice my expectations and pride in order to love my kids how they deserve to be loved? Do my kids better understand the love of Christ based off of what they see in me? With the Holy Spirit I can extend sacrificial love to my children.
Sacrificial love impacts relationships. Similarly to marriage and parenting, I must get over myself if I want to truly love my family and friends. Instead of going in to a relationship asking what I can get out of it, I should ask what can I give. Can I sacrifice my time to bring a friend a meal? Can I sacrifice my pride to be the one that almost always texts first? Can I sacrifice my “feelings” when I’m not invited? If I let myself get in the way, I will never be able to cultivate lasting relationships. Relationships take work. Work requires sacrifice. Jesus is our perfect example. With the Holy Spirit I can extend sacrificial love to my family and friends.
Sacrificial love impacts my ministry. Yes, we sacrificed the familiar and left Memphis to move to Malawi, but if our sacrifice stops there we will be ineffective. Whatever your ministry is, mothering, doctoring, “janitoring”, preaching, or “missionarying”, your ministry is eternally significant. In order to make an eternal impact, we must love sacrificially. If we want those around us to be changed by the Gospel, we have to live like the Gospel has changed us. The Gospel that Isaiah 53 so clearly portrays, is about sacrifice. I’m asking myself, what can I sacrifice in order to make Christ more obvious through my ministry. With the Holy Spirit I can extend sacrificial love to those I minister to.
So living a life filled with love is how we imitate God, but why? Ephesians 5:1 tell us to imitate Him “because we are his dear children”. Isaiah 53:10 says, “Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants.” Thanks to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, I am His dear child. My girls love to imitate me, their far from perfect mommy. As God’s children, we have the privilege of learning to imitate the perfect example. We will fall short, we will never achieve a flawless imitation. When we do, our loving Father is there to pick us up and set us back on the right path. The sacrifice He made, prophesied by Isaiah, made having an intimate relationship with God possible. As a result, we are to choose to live out sacrificial love