History of Redemption: Blog Post 25
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 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. - Isaiah 53:2-3 ESV
We were sitting in Mallard’s ice cream, just catching up on life. My friend was visiting me from Massachusetts, where we had spent two years together. During that time he not only became my close friend, but he also became my boss. He and his family had come to Bellingham to visit, as they toured around the Pacific Northwest. That night, by God’s grace, the conversation steered itself toward the topic of religion. Despite being a close friend, we had never really talked about religion before. I knew that he had grown up Muslim, and had married a woman who had grown up Protestant, but that night I learned that he, like so many people today, believed that as long as you were a “good person” you would one day go to heaven. I asked him how good he thought he had to be. His answer was vague. He told me that all religions were basically the same. I told him I disagreed, and that while all other religions claimed that you have to be good enough to get to God, my faith was grounded on the truth that no one can be good enough to get to God, and so God came to us. Silently and quickly I prayed for God to give me words to speak to my dear friend. The Holy Spirit brought to my memory Isaiah 53.
As these perfect words poured out of my imperfect mouth, I explained to my friend God’s plan to rescue us from our own fallen state, and I explained how these words in Isaiah spoke of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has now come to make atonement for our sins.
My faith in the truth of Christianity has been tremendously strengthened by Isaiah 53. While there are hundreds of prophecies regarding Jesus throughout the Old Testament, Isaiah 53 stands out to me in stark contrast. As I read this entire chapter of Isaiah 53, I feel like I am staring at the face of Jesus Christ. And when I consider that these words were written between 600 to 700 years before His time on earth, I am struck with awe and wonder. Although I know it is dangerous to make such sweeping statements, I would hazard to suggest that these are the most important words of the Old Testament that you could and should ever memorize.
Much like a multifaceted jewel, every time I read this chapter, I am given a new glimpse of the radiance of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. And I am reminded of the cost that Jesus paid for my sins. Today as I read these words again, what I am especially moved by is a consideration of what Jesus gave up to enter into human flesh. In heaven He was clothed in majesty. On earth “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him”. In heaven He was the very definition of beauty. On earth He had “no beauty that we should desire him”. In heaven He was worshipped by a multitude of angels. On earth “He was despised and rejected by men”. In heaven He lived in constant and joyful community with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. On earth He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. In heaven He was glorified and honored and praised night and day. On earth He “was despised, and we esteemed him not”.
I went home that night praising God for the privilege of getting to speak scripture into a friend’s life, whether he accepted it or not. I hope you too will memorize Isaiah 53, and will reflect often on the implications of the humanity of Christ. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” - Philippians 2:5-8.