Return to God’s word. Allow it to transform you. Notice how your faith is being deepened and your way of life motivated.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
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.
All 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.
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.
The idea of “becoming Christ-like” applied to the Suffering Servant passage is a scary thought. Christians have long interpreted Isaiah’s prophecy to point towards Calgary. If we are to become more like Christ, are we too destined for endless self-sacrifice, suffering, and even death?
This week I have been pulled by this passage to think of sin, forgiveness, and God’s willingness to become at-one with us again. There are deep questions here, questions of how God can be just when the world is unjust; even the Bible suggests that God allows suffering, as in this passage. Yet at the end of the day, it is sinfulness, malice, and selfishness that breaks our relationship with God, and these things too that lead the innocents to suffer. God, somehow, seeks to bring us back into right relationship, but that is no excuse to stop looking at the sin — at our own role in causing suffering.
Where in my own life do I allow greed, complacency, or selfishness to hurt others? From whom am I hiding my face, as the prophet describes above? Jesus did not allow these things to happen in his life, a principle of love he held so firmly that he would rather die than abandon. How can I be more like Jesus, the uncompromising giver of self?
It may not mean intense physical suffering and death, but it may mean a closer look at those suffering around me, and the excuses that so readily surface when facing them.
© Suffering Servant, Donald Jackson, 2005. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.