Many times I have wondered WHY? Why was this provision made?
How could this EXTRAVAGANT and SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE be made?
Tonight I wondered as I wandered through Isaiah’s description – Isaiah began by describing the depth of the stoop along with the unparalleled love that empowered the Servant to provide such a glorious gift for every human being.
Beginning His life here on earth Jesus was born in a manager – homeless, and crib-less with animals surrounding His delicate frame.
In Isaiah 53:2-3 we read:
For He grew up before Him like a tender [a]shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should [b]be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of [c]sorrows and acquainted with [d]grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Jesus’ love for us exceeded His majesty and glory – He was willing to lay aside everything – the niceties of life were all thrown out in the trash so He could experience and begin to share our pain. In modern-day language – Jesus was acquainted with our present day economic challenges – foreclosures – no heating – no car – no airconditioning – no designer wear – minimum friends – no employment – no money and plenty of rejection.
By the time Isaiah gets to verses 4-6, he indicates the weight Jesus carried:
Surely our [a]griefs He Himself bore,
And our [b]sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
[c]Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was [d]pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our [e]well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To [f]fall on Him.
And then my mind raced back to when I left the supermarket with two plastic bags full of food today and a 1 gallon jug of water similar to this one – and how I felt weighed down and weary like I was dragging the world of stuff around. Then I began to imagine what it must have felt like for Jesus to bear the weight of this world on the cross – all our sins, all our guilt and all our shame so we can all have a part and share in the mansions He has gone to prepare for us. (John 14:1-3)
Jesus’ sacrifice is one that was so rich and extravagant – nothing in this world can ever separate any human being from our Father God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit once we keep trusting and striving to be connected and supplied by Their Power and Strength. Paul in Romans 8:31-39 testifies with emphatic clarity about the unbreakable security found in Jesus Christ. He concludes his discussion by stating, ” For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Isaiah moves on in verses 7-9 detailing more of the sacrifice and its extravagance. Imagine being the Creator and Ruler of the Entire Universe but stooping and enduring the torture of wicked men (men who were blinded by evil) in order to provide the greatest and only escape for every human. This escape was made for us all by our own Creator – the super escape from the clutches and slavery of sin and all the hardships it has brought to all mankind! What a tremendous sacrifice Jesus did to resist even defending His Own Self and to reject twisting the truth just so as to be able to be the Perfect Sacrifice for us.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the [k]living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Undervaluing the sacrifice – is not an option, Isaiah does not fail to capture the extraordinary love of our Father God in verses 10-12 of Isaiah 53, here we see a Father and Son coming together to make an extravagant and sufficient sacrifice – looking way beyond to the biggest picture – the guilt offering Jesus Christ who was and is sufficient to stand up for us and grant us grace and salvation.
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, [l]putting Him to grief;
If [m]He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His [n]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [o]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the [p]anguish of His soul,
He will see [q]it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out [r]Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
In Hebrews 9:24-28, Paul tells of the magnificence of Jesus’ sacrifice – it was done once and it was sufficient:
24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin [a]by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is [b]appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
The completeness and sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice causes me to want to break forth with praise and thanksgiving that I have a chance and you have a chance and everyone has a chance to take hold of this precious gift. There is no need for us to sacrifice sheep, goats, cattle, pigeons etc – the price has been paid in full and He is available to us in a very real and very extraordinary way – giving us strength to overcome every challenging situation that we might face!
Romans 6:8-13 says:
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, [a]is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting [b]the members of your body to sin as [c]instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as [d]instruments of righteousness to God.
So I must rejoice with evangelist Annie Morgan and John Jacob Niles and say:
1. I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
2. When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
3. If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.
Thanks to this web link right here, we have the story behind this beautiful carol. Another stunning rendition of this beautiful Christmas Carol can be found here:
May you be blessed by this Carol this Christmas season 2013 and be empowered for 2014 to share the story of God’s extravagant and sufficient sacrifice!