4Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. 9They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. 11Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
It might seem weird to talk about the cross in October, so far away from Holy Week. In fact, Good Friday is almost exactly six months from now – as far away as we can be in any given year from our remembrance of the cross. But the cross should shape our understanding of God, the world, and our own lives every day of the year.
We have beautified the cross in our culture by making it a piece of jewelry or a bright shining symbol that we put on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers. In a sense, we have sanitized the cross and perhaps that has caused us to miss the weight of the cross. The word usually translated as “stumbling block” in 1 Corinthians 1:23 (used to describe the cross) is the Greek word skandalon, from which we get our word scandal. There is nothing easy about the cross. One of the most scandalous and uncomfortable things about the cross is that it forces us to confront our own sin.
Sin can be a difficult subject to talk about. It is much easier to consider how Jesus’s death gave us healing and freed us from injustice, as this passage describes. But this passage also is clear that Jesus’s death was also a response to our sin. Call it whatever you want – iniquities or transgressions – but sin is a reality we must all confront. To call sin a “transgression” (literally to go across in Latin) means that we have gone beyond the boundaries God has placed upon our lives to keep those lives whole and within the loving shalom of God. Sin doesn’t always have to be dramatic or “big,” as it is often those seemingly smaller sins that most easily creep in and do the most damage to our souls.
Take some time this week to consider your sin. Do not do this to shame yourself or to dredge up the past. Instead do so to remember the magnitude of our salvation and also to examine your life for those things that still drive you beyond the boundaries of God-ordained life. God is always calling us closer – into a deeper experience of resurrection life. There is no path toward God that avoids the cross or its difficult realities. But on the other side is forgiveness, healing, and freedom. On the other side is life…
Journaling Focus: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
This is a difficult passage. Why would God desire to crush the suffering servant being written of by Isaiah? What part of God’s will could only “prosper” as a result of this? As you write this week, reflect on your own thoughts and insights about this passage. What place does suffering have in the lives of those who seek God’s righteousness? How do you respond to this image of God? Sometimes, dealing headlong and honestly with images of God and Scripture passages that challenge our assumptions can open up a flood of new spiritual insights. If you find this passage troubling or challenging, trust God to reveal a new insight to you as you journal.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Prayer Focus: By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
There is a lot of talk these days about social justice. Sometimes, social justice movements reflect the desires and perspectives of God’s justice. Sometimes, these movements do not reflect godly justice. Pray that God’s justice would guide our society’s actions. Ask God to bring freedom, healing, and deliverance for those who are experiencing injustice in our world. Trust God to be the answer to oppression in your life and in the experiences of the world.
Meditation Focus: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
It is difficult to imagine being subject to the suffering Christ was subject to and not offering complaint or, in his heavenly power, calling the whole thing off in disgust. We complain and groan when relatively small things happen to us! Jesus understood what purpose his suffering was accomplishing. The words he offered from the cross were mostly words of mercy, grace, and compassion. Imagine a great injustice in our present world, perhaps one you have personally experienced. Imagine that Jesus is right next to you as you view this scene. What words does Jesus offer? What does Jesus want to say about the suffering you have endured? What does Jesus say in view of the world’s suffering?
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- Where do you need healing?
- Where do you need forgiveness?
- Where do you need to find justice?
- How is God bringing these to you?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
This passage foreshadows the great cost of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. Take some time this week to express your thanksgiving to Jesus for this sacrifice. How can you actively show and communicate to the Lord both your reception and appreciation of this gift?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, heal us.